By Frank S. Washington
DETROIT (NNPA) – Eyebrows raised when Kia announced a little more than one year ago the development of the K900. After all, the Korean automaker had just introduced the Cadenza sedan about a year earlier. So why come to market with a full-size luxury sedan that seemed to be out of whack with the automaker’s overall product line?
At the time, Kia executives said they saw room emerging in the luxury sedan market for a $60,000 car as traditional luxury automakers moved up stream. This year, through March, 269 K 900s were sold. That’s not much. but it is a relatively new nameplate and sales gains will be incremental.
Still, no one is saying that Kia’s K900 is a shoddy car. In fact, in a recent ranking of large luxury cars, the Kia K900 came in third out of eight products tested.
Our test car was powered by a 5.0-liter aluminum V8 that made 420 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. It was mated to an eight-speed transmission. It is the only powertrain available. The big sedan had an EPA rating of 15 mpg in the city, 23 mpg on the highway and 18 mpg combined.
But though output remains the same the engine does come in two configurations: premium and luxury. In luxury, the transmission shifts by wire gear selector. In premium, it is shifted by cable gear selector.
It is the same thing with the headlights. Premium has HID headlights and luxury has LED headlights. Both have what Kia has branded Dynamic Bending Lights (read adaptable).
We had a Kia K900 with the luxury trim line. Still, either or, the engine moved the 4,555-pound sedan effortlessly. It had four drive modes: normal, eco, sport and snow.
This car was quick, very quick. In sport mode especially, it was easy to get up to speeds that in places, like curving expressway entrances and exits, the K900 wasn’t comfortable.
You don’t take a full-sized sedan into a tight curve at 60 plus miles an hour. Still, the K900 got through it without tires squealing or body yawing.
The car had five-link suspensions with stabilizer bars fore and aft. Though sizable, the setup made the car glide over the road without feeling disconnected. And that adhesiveness with the road was aided by hydraulic power steering. Many manufacturers are switching to electric power steering. We hope Kia holds out for real road feel with the K900.
Kia said the K900 had a swept greenhouse, subdued cut lines along the doors and a high rear deck lid that lent a muscular tension to the sheet metal. The car featured Kia’s tiger grille and side vents. The bottom line is that it looked like the wildly popular Kia Optima, just bigger, a lot bigger. It was 200 inches long with a 119.9-inch wheel-base. It was a spacious interior and that’s where luxury is always conveyed in any vehicle.
Our tester had the VIP package that included a 12.3-inch full LCD TFT instrument cluster. We didn’t like it. But don’t get it twisted, we’ve yet to see a full TFT instrument cluster that we do like, so our reaction was normal. Beyond that the K900’s interior was top grade. Fit and finish were great. The car had gray stained wood to match its black and white motif. The option package also included a heads up display, power headrests in the front, a driver’s power seat cushion extension, reclining rear seats with lumbar supports and lateral adjusting headrests. There was also a panoramic roof.
This car was chauffer ready, too. It had a control panel in the rear seat center armrest. It held switches for the power rear seats that were heated and cooled and they had power lumbar supports. Rear seat climate controls were there as well as the switch for the power rear sunshade. There were also manual side windows shades.
But the 2015 Kia K900 was also a driver’s car. Not only did the blind side alert display in the side view mirrors, it flashed in the heads-up display. That was a more immediate warning right in our line of sight and it also served as a monitor that let us know when someone was in our blind spot on either side at all times.
We had a couple quibbles with the interior. There was one switch to control the panoramic roof and its interior shade. One seemed like too little. It was about pressure, a hard click opened the shade and the roof, a soft one just the shade would open. Another click stopped either the shade or the roof. It just wasn’t easy to master and shouldn’t have to be mastered.
Sunroof controls should be one of the intuitively easiest things to use. The last thing you want is to be caught up trying to get the sunroof and or the shade to do what you want to them do and in effect have one hand over your head while driving. Eh, no.
Our other quibble was really a snippet. The 2015 Kia K900 had a premium Exicon audio system that sounded really good. But we had to put on our glasses and get up real close to read the logo. If you think enough of the system to put the brand name on the speaker, then it should be made easy to read.
Still, the 2015 Kia K900 was a very engaging full size sedan. It had a base price of $59,500. Add the $6,000 VIP option package and a $900 freight charge and as tested our K900 was $66,400.
Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.