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    William Maley

    Review: 2015 Kia K900 V8

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      Getting a flagship luxury sedan at bulk pricing


    I’m going to list out some auto manufacturers and I want you to tell me which one doesn’t belong. Ready?

    Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Kia, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz. If you said Kia, then you'd be correct.

    Why is Kia on this list? For a very good reason. Like its sister car company Hyundai, Kia has introduced a luxury flagship. Called the K900, this is the automaker’s attempt to take on the old guard in the luxury flagship class. It may seem like a joke; Kia taking on the likes of the Audi A8, BMW 7-Series, and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. But after spending a week in one, I think Kia has a very legitimate chance in this market.

    Before we fully dive into the vehicle itself, let’s talk about the K900 name. As someone pointed out, the name sounds like it should be on adventure with Doctor Who. In other markets, the K900 is called K9 or Quoris. Either one of those names would be much better than the one we got.

    The K900’s look reminds me of the Cadenza full-size sedan. Park the models next to each other and aside from a few design items, it is hard to tell them apart. Both models have a rounded front end with the tiger-mouth grille and large headlights - the K900 boasts active LED headlights. Other similarities include similar side profiles - multi-spoke 19-inch wheels and faux air vents on the fenders give away the K900 - and rear ends. Usually I like Kia’s designs, but I kind of wished they went a little bit further to make the K900 stand out. That said, if you were to ask me if I would go for the K900 or its sister car, the Hyundai Equus, I would pick the K900 every time.

    2015 Kia K900 11

    At least Kia has done a bit more work to make the K900’s interior feel a bit more special. Acres of Nappa leather lined the dash and door panels, along with wood trim. Driver and passenger get a set power-adjustable seats with memory and ventilation to provide luxury accommodations. Back seat passengers get acres of head and legroom. If you opt for the VIP package like on my tester, rear-seat passengers will find power adjustments which allows them to recline the seat. You won’t find an ottoman pop-out from the bottom of the seat, which is ok because the K900 isn’t quite long enough to pull that off. Other parts of the VIP package include four-zone climate control, ventilated seats for the rear, and power-closing rear doors. Everybody will be fighting for a space in the back, not the front.

    On the technology front, the K900 gets a 12.3-inch TFT screen which acts as the gauge cluster. The screen is very vibrant and allows you to customize the layout to fit your needs. A 9.2-inch screen in the center stack displays navigation, infotainment, climate, and Kia’s UVO e-services. At first, I thought the touchscreen was broken as it wasn’t responding to anything I touched. A moment later, I realized that the system was controlled by a BMW-like controller in the center console. Cue self-inflicted dope slap. It takes a few moments to figure how to work the controller and buttons that surround it, but once you figure it out, it becomes second nature.

    For thoughts on power and ride, see page 2


    Power comes from a 5.0L V8 engine with 420 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic. The engine is a smooth operator providing adequate power from idle to redline. More importantly is how quiet and refined the engine goes about its business. You only notice a slight murmur coming from under the hood when accelerating, meaning it's quite easy to go well above the posted speed limit without noticing. The eight-speed automatic provides silky-smooth shifts. Fuel economy is slightly disappointing with the EPA rating the K900 at 15 City/23 Highway/18 Combined. My week saw an average of 17 MPG.

    2015 Kia K900 9

    The best word to describe the K900’s ride is wafting. The coil suspension is tuned in such a way that many road imperfections and bumps are soaked up. Helping matters is a lot of sound deadening material and laminated glass throughout which blots the noises of the outside world, making this a perfect long-distance traveler. Don’t expect the K900 to give the old guard a run for their money in the athletics though. The K900 doesn’t liked being pushed at all as it leans through the corners and the steering is quite numb. There is a ‘Sport’ mode which changes the instrument cluster to be more like a race car and tries to give the steering a bit more weight. But it only shows how K900 wasn’t built to be sporty at all. It’s better to leave the K900 in either normal or Eco and drive it like a relaxed cruiser.

    It may seem bit crazy and very daring that Kia is selling a luxury flagship twenty years after their first vehicle arrived in the U.S. But if the recent trend of Kia’s product lineup and Hyundai Equus is anything to go by, the K900 has a real shot. Kia did their homework when working on this flagship and it shows. The K900 has many attributes that a lot luxury buyers want, for a price that will shock a lot of people. Yes, the K900 does have a Kia badge which may cause some to turn their nose up at, and there are a few items I think Kia needs to fix. But if you’re willing to take a chance on the Kia K900, what you’ll end up with is an excellent luxury flagship, and a bit of leftover change.

    Disclaimer: Kia Provided the K900 V8, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2015

    Make: Kia

    Model: K900

    Trim: V8

    Engine: 5.0L Direct-Injected V8

    Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive

    Horsepower @ RPM: 420 @ 6,400

    Torque @ RPM: 376 @ 5,000

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 15/23/18

    Curb Weight: 4,555 lbs

    Location of Manufacture: Gwangmyeong, South Korea

    Base Price: $59,500

    As Tested Price: $66,400 (Includes $900.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:

    VIP Package - $6,000

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    Front end scares me a bit...looks cozy on the inside though!

     

    That is the first time I have heard that (the scary front end).

     

    Inside is very cozy. Perfect for the cold weather I was driving the K900 in.

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    I prefer this car over the Genesis.  Though technically it is not a 1:1 comparison.  This car rides on the last gen Equus chassis rather than sharing the Genesis chassis.  If you look at it that way, you're getting a hell of a deal on a K900.

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    This model makes ZERO sense. Problem #1 is that the exterior design fails to elevate itself above the other very good full size sedan on Kia lots for half the price: the FWD Cadenza. If Kia had unveiled something that looked like an Optima-esque muscle car, you'd have people kicking down dealership doors just to see it, even if not to buy it. Flagship mission accomplished.

     

    Once you break down the floundering chassis dynamics, nearly 14-second 1/4 mile acceleration with terrible fuel economy, and $60,000+ price tag, the demographic for this mediocre-looking pseudo luxury car simply Does. Not. Exist. The abysmal sales speak for themselves.

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    The trouble for both the Cadenza and the K900 is that they are decent cars, but better options exist at their price points.  $60k gets you a very very nicely equipped and better handling CTS or 5-series... and very soon a CT6. 

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    Above $60k is too much.  What made the first Genesis good was you could get a V8 for $42,000 and I think even the current Genesis is high $40s for a V8.  So if you'd like a V8 luxury sedan for under $50k it offers a good deal.  10 years ago there were Cadillacs, Lincolns, and Jaguars with V8s for $45-50K, those cars are gone the Lexus GS430 is gone, it is sort of sad that the V8 is pretty much dead in cars under $65k.

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    People probably don't know what the K900 is standing 10 feet away in a dealership showroom, and that's the most fundamental failure as a flagship. In America, Kia is still overcoming the bargain basement garbage reputation, and they want to sell a $60,000 RWD "value" luxury sedan? The whole concept from top to bottom is a swing and a miss.

     

    Now I've never been a fan of the Cadillac XTS, but the Vsport 3.6T/AWD starts at $63,000 and pretty much tops out just over $70k. It's faster, just as big and spacious, more fuel efficient, offers similar handling, and actually has a luxury badge on it. The Lexus LS also starts just north of $70k.

    Edited by cp-the-nerd

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    It can't be that bad CP. Sure the market may not exist, but it is a hidden jem in the segment. I like the car, it offers a lot, and it certainly beat both Lincoln and Cadillac to market as a flagship product offering. Though the CT6 will absolutely bury anything other than the S-Class.

     

    People probably don't know what the K900 is standing 10 feet away in a dealership showroom, and that's the most fundamental failure as a flagship. In America, Kia is still overcoming the bargain basement garbage reputation, and they want to sell a $60,000 RWD "value" luxury sedan? The whole concept from top to bottom is a swing and a miss.

     

    Now I've never been a fan of the Cadillac XTS, but the Vsport 3.6T/AWD starts at $63,000 and pretty much tops out just over $70k. It's faster, just as big and spacious, more fuel efficient, offers similar handling, and actually has a luxury badge on it. The Lexus LS also starts just north of $70k.

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    People probably don't know what the K900 is standing 10 feet away in a dealership showroom, and that's the most fundamental failure as a flagship. In America, Kia is still overcoming the bargain basement garbage reputation, and they want to sell a $60,000 RWD "value" luxury sedan? The whole concept from top to bottom is a swing and a miss.

     

    Now I've never been a fan of the Cadillac XTS, but the Vsport 3.6T/AWD starts at $63,000 and pretty much tops out just over $70k. It's faster, just as big and spacious, more fuel efficient, offers similar handling, and actually has a luxury badge on it. The Lexus LS also starts just north of $70k.

    This is my concern with it as well.  It may turn out to be an excellent vehicle, but until they've been on the road a few more years and we can better judge long-term reliability and resale value at a minimum, I just don't trust the vehicle and wouldn't consider it alongside the vehicles it is trying to compete with.  Kia doesn't have the experience with this class of vehicle, and though it may seem pretty decent now, I just don't have faith that they've made something that will stand up to the test of time.  Great write-up, though, it's a good read.

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