Something Different: Kia’s First Luxury Effort
Clean Fleet Report realizes that people with far-ranging automotive needs and wants read our reviews and articles looking for insight into alternative fuel and high fuel economy gasoline-powered vehicles. The broad interests of our readers gives us the opportunity to write about an equally broad range of cars, trucks, SUVs, crossovers and motorcycles; and we appreciate your interest in reading about these vehicles. But within each of these categories are so many different
models it can be dizzying, which leads us to the 2015 Kia K900 reviewed here.
To get started, the 2015 Kia K900 is not a gasoline sipper and uses what is becoming a rare offering — a powerful V8 engine. So why is Clean Fleet Report reviewing this car? We felt that bringing the K900 to your attention was noteworthy
as it recognizes Kia’s first effort in the luxury car category and how the car might fit within your lifestyle and driving needs. It is important to remember that not everyone can or should, regardless how admirable it may be, drive an EV or plug-in hybrid.
The rear-wheel drive 2015 Kia K900 is powered by a 5.0-liter, V8 DOHC engine delivering 420 hp through an eight-speed automatic transmission and an EPA rating of 15 city/23 highway/18 combined mpg. Coming in 2015, the eight-speed transmission will also be mated to the 3.8-liter, V6 that produces 311 hp and has a fuel economy rating of 18/27/25, with both engines using regular grade gasoline.
The 5.0L V8 was smooth, strong and quiet with push-you-back-in-your-seat power. In a few unscientific acceleration runs, the K900 traveled 0 – 60 in about 5.7 or 5.8 seconds. When passing at freeway speeds, the eight-speed automatic shifts seamlessly with precise downshifts and, before you know it, you are lucky the highway patrol wasn’t anywhere near to witness your explosion of speed.
In 320 miles of 75-percent/25-percent highway/city driving I averaged 17.8 mpg and did not drain the 19.8 gallon fuel tank. These may not seem outstanding fuel economy numbers, but considering the car’s weight and being almost 17-feet long, not too many other luxury, gasoline-powered, cars have significantly higher fuel economy numbers.
Driving Experience: On the Road
At 4,643 lbs. the four-door K900 felt heavy on the road, which was expected and fully appreciated as it delivered an extremely smooth, quiet and near bump-free ride. The K900 cornering was flat and efficient on any surface and speed, with
the steel unibody construction providing a stiffness and rigidity that worked well with the 19-inch tires, front independent MacPherson struts, coil springs and stabilizer bar and Torsion beam with coil springs in the rear. At both ends are mono-tube shocks that help even-out the ride and provide for flatter corning. Stopping was straight and true with no fading from the four-wheel disc, ABS system.
The electro-hydraulic power-assisted steering was a bit light but gave a good balance between a premium highway ride and confident cornering. One way to get slightly, but not enough, better steering feel is to select the Sport setting that firms-up the steering while also holding the transmission in each gear just a bit longer. This would be my preferred setting if it wasn’t for the transmission. To bring the K900 closer to the best-handling luxury sedans it is designed to compete against, Kia might consider having an option just to tighten the steering and suspension and leave the very smooth and quiet eight-speed transmission alone. Kia is not marketing the K900 as a sports sedan, but giving drivers the option to tune the steering and suspension would be a plus – and a selling point.
Driving Experience: Exterior
As a completely new car, and one that Kia is hoping luxury car buyers will be impressed enough with to consider purchasing, the 2015 K900 needed to have modern but classic styling, and this it does. Driving it for a week around Southern California resulted in several people asking about the car, which was a good sign. The four-door, large sedan has smooth lines without any unnecessary ridges, bumps or sharp angles. The roofline has a classic luxury car sweep leading to a spoiler-less high truck lid. The 19-inch alloy wheels, fully chromed with fifteen spokes, look right for the car’s dimensions and are a good design as standard issue. Probably the only concern is that from the front view the K900 is hard to differentiate when parked next to the Optima and Cadenza, Kia’s other sedans, which sell for $25,000+ less.
Driving Experience: Interior
Just opening the solid door of the K900 is enough to tip-off that there is something good going on inside. The interior seems to be covered everywhere in soft, supple Nappa leather with real wood and aluminum trim pieces and accents in
just the right places. Even the headliner is made of a suede-like material, adding one more luxury touch.
The five-passenger seating dares you to not find a comfortable seating position. The driver’s seat is 16-way power adjustable and the front passenger seat gets eight ways to play around until that “just right” feeling sets in. Both seats are heated and ventilated, as are the outboard rear seats. Staying in the rear, I can only say that you need to sit back there to experience the near-limo legroom. With the rear power sunshade and the manual rear side window shades deployed, your passengers will revel in anonymity, feeling like true VIPs during their trip. When folded down, the center rear seat armrest (which also is a ski pass-through) includes climate controls and a 12V outlet. To finish off a luxury rear-passenger experience, the seats are power-reclining with power lumbar.
The driver has three display areas to track: the Heads Up Display, which appears on the windshield just above the steering wheel; the LCD Information Cluster located behind the heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel; and the center dash-mounted 9.2-inch full-color display with navigation and Kia’s UVO eServices. The 17-speaker Lexicon Logic7 audio system, with 900 watts of power, sounded like a concert hall. It came with SiriusXM (three-month trial subscription), AM/FM/HD/CD/MP3, USB port with iPod connectivity, aux-in jacks, Bluetooth streaming audio and hands-free telephone. The voice recognition system, used for placing calls and other commands, was as good as any I have tested. Add in the Homelink auto-dimming rearview mirror and compass for more convenience and safety.
Other nice interior features of the K900 VIP are the rear and front camera displays, three-zone climate control, power tilt and telescoping steering column, power closing trunk and power soft-closing doors.
Safety and Convenience
The 2015 Kia K900 VIP safety and convenience features included eight air bags, remote keyless entry, Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control System (TCS), 4-wheel disc Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS), Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), adaptive LED headlights, LED fog and rear taillights, illuminated entry, front and rear parking sensors with Kia’s Park Guide System, (PGS), blind spot detection, lane departure warning and rear cross-traffic alert. The power folding outside mirrors were a nice touch as I am sure the hydrophobic front door windows and rain sensing windshield wipers will be in a rain storm. The windshield wipers also are equipped with de-icers.
The K900 VIP has radar technology, Advanced Smart Cruise Control (ASCC), which helps maintain a safe speed with the car in front and can bring the K900 to a complete stop. This is one of the features that will be standard on automated
cars. I found it to be unsettling at first because of the trust factor, but after a few attempts it worked as promised.
For parking lot safety, the K900 VIP has Kia’s Surround View Monitor System, which is four small, wide-angle cameras that are strategically placed to provide a down and outward view, surrounding the car. When parking, these views appear on the full-color LCD screen and are extremely helpful to reveal objects that could easily be run into.
Pricing and Warranties
Base pricing for the 2015 Kia K900 is $59,500, excluding the $900 freight and handling charge. Clean Fleet Report’s K900 was equipped with the VIP Package, adding $6,000 to the price. The total cost of our test car, with the freight and handling charge, was $66,400.
The 2015 Kia K900 comes with these warranties:
- 5-year/60,000-mile Basic
- 3-year/37,500-mile Scheduled Maintenance
- 10-year/100,000-mile Drivetrain
- 5-year/60,000-mile Roadside Assistance
- 5-year/100,000-mile Corrosion Perforation
Observations: 2015 Kia K900 VIP
Kia wants to “challenge the luxury you know” with the 2015 K900 because, in their own words, “the K900 signals a new era for Kia and advances the brand to new levels of sophistication” and hopefully it will have the “power to change perceptions.” While these are objective considerations, there is no argument that Kia has raised, and crossed, the bar for designing a luxury car that sells for far less than others in its class.
For our purposes here, we are not so concerned Kia has positioned the K900 against luxury cars such as the 7-Series BMW and Audi A8 that sell for at least $20,000 more. We are more interested in how relevant the K900 is to your lifestyle. Have you achieved career success and need, or have earned, a large car that can seat five full adults in luxury?
Coming to Clean Fleet Report means you are looking for fuel economy first and foremost, which we mentioned earlier is not what the K900 is about. If your needs are for a more substantial car that gets your guests and you around in luxury, then you should be looking at and appreciating the K900.
Whatever you buy, Happy Driving!
Other related stories you might enjoy:
Road Test: 2014 Kia Optima Hybrid
First Drive: 2015 Kia Soul EV