Revisiting Kia’s Luxury Sedan
Two years ago Clean Fleet Report had the opportunity to drive Kia’s new luxury sedan, the 2015 K900. As we now revisit the K900, with its V8 engine, we know it is about as far removed from what is usually reviewed on Clean Fleet Report—cars that are powered by alternative fuels or get 40+ mpg on the freeway.
We reviewed the K900 then because we know your automotive needs are varied. Your broad interest in cars, trucks, SUVs and crossovers provides us with valuable feedback, and we appreciate your interest in reading about these vehicles. So, the question is—Is a large luxury car in your future? Could Kia drive into your garage in spite of lacking a luxury heritage. The 2017 Kia K900 asks those questions–and poses some challenging new ones of its own.
Clean Fleet Report tested the rear-wheel drive 2017 Kia K900 Luxury that was powered by a 5.0-liter V8 DOHC engine, producing 420 horsepower (hp) and 376 pounds-feet (lb.-ft.) of torque, through an eight-speed automatic transmission. It is a rarity when Clean Fleet Report gets into a car with a beastly 5.0L V8, as most cars we test are either four or six cylinders, or don’t have an internal combustion engine at all!
But we were are glad we did get into the K900 as it was smooth, strong, quiet and powerful—just like we remember it. Something else we faced were fuel economy numbers of 15 city/23 highway/18 combined mpg. We were quickly reminded that the trade-off of a big V8, with its smoothness and power, will be lower fuel economy.
In a few unscientific acceleration runs, the K900 traveled 0–60 in about 5.7 or 5.8 seconds. During lane passes at highway speeds, the eight-speed automatic up-and-down shifted seamlessly and precisely. In 234 miles of mostly Southern California highway driving we averaged 20.1 mpg. In a 150-mile all-highway driving trip, using the advanced smart cruise control, we averaged 25.7 mpg. A very respectable number for a car weighing 4,700 pounds and being almost 17-feet long.
The base model comes with the 3.8-liter, V6 that produces 311 hp and has a fuel economy rating of 17/25/20. Both engines use regular grade gasoline. Our experience with other cars with EPA ratings in the mid-to-high-twenties gives us confidence the V6 could reach near 30 mpg.
Driving Experience: On the Road
The 2017 Kia K900 felt heavy and big on the road, delivering a smooth, quiet and near bump-free ride. You won’t find any creaking or rattles on the solid K900. While not marketed as a performance or sporty car, Kia does know how to engineer and design cars that handle quite well, so cornering was relatively flat thanks to the 19-inch tires and front MacPherson struts and rear torsion beams. Mono-tube shocks helped even-out the ride and provide for flatter cornering. 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 and lacked feel, but gave an acceptable balance between a premium highway ride and confident cornering. We did notice on long,
straight stretches of highway, frequent small corrections were necessary as the K900 would tend to wander a bit and the ride would become slightly floaty. We were glad the K900 had lane departure warning! Floaty is a relative term and the K900 is nothing like the large sedans from the 1970s and 1980s. The big Cadillacs and Lincolns back then would, on the open highway at 70+ mph, float through the full travel of the shocks. It was quite a thing to experience!
Driving Experience: Exterior
The 2017 Kia K900 is a large four-door sedan with smooth lines and without any unnecessary ridges, bumps or sharp angles. Chrome is kept at an absolute minimum. The roofline has a classic luxury car sweep, leading to a spoiler-less high trunk lid. While the design is pleasant enough, it is conservative and is playing in a crowded field of more recognizable luxury sedans, both by styling and name recognition. One concern Kia has is that from the front view the K900 is hard to differentiate when parked next to Kia’s other sedans, which sell for $25,000+ less. Hyundai, Kia’s sister brand, has demonstrated a luxury car can have style all its own, in the all-new Genesis G90. Chances are the K900 will be redesigned in the near future.
Driving Experience: Interior
Just opening the solid door of the K900 is enough to tip-off there is something good going on inside. The interior seems to be covered everywhere in soft, supple Nappa leather, which in the case of our K900 came with the VIP Plus Package so the seats were also quilted. Real wood and aluminum trim pieces and accents were 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 seat is 16-way power adjustable and the front passenger seat gets eight ways to play around until that “just right” feeling sets in. The VIP Package adds power front headrests, power lumbar adjustment for front and rear seats, driver seat power leg extension and rear seat recline. The front seats are heated and ventilated, as are the outboard rear seats. Staying in the rear, I can only say 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. The complete package adds-up to a luxury interior experience.
The driver has three display areas; the head-up display (part of the VIP Plus Package), which appears on the windshield just above the steering wheel; the 12.3-inch 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 Luxury are the panoramic sunroof, rear and front camera displays, three-zone climate control, power tilt and telescoping steering column, push button start/stop, smart key, power closing trunk and power soft-closing door latches.
Safety and Convenience
Standard and optional safety and convenience features for the 2017 Kia K900 Luxury include eight air bags, remote keyless entry, a tire pressure monitoring system, electronic stability control, traction control System, four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes (ABS), vehicle stability management, adaptive LED headlights, LED fog and rear tail lights, illuminated entry, front and rear parking sensors with Kia’s Park Guide System, blind spot detection, lane departure warning and rear cross traffic alert. The power folding outside mirrors (with puddle lamps) were a nice touch as were the hydrophobic front door windows and rain sensing windshield wipers will be in a rain storm.
The K900 Luxury has radar technology with Advanced Smart Cruise Control and an autonomous emergency braking system. When used together, they help maintain a safe speed with the car in front and can bring the K900 to an unassisted complete stop. This is one of the features that will be a part of self-driving cars. It’s technology I found to be especially valuable in stop-and-go, rush hour traffic. Because, once set, it is not necessary to apply the brakes or touch the accelerator mile after mile after mile in zero-to-10-mile-per-hour speeds. The last step will be autonomous steering, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
For parking lot safety, the K900 Luxury has Kia’s Surround View Monitor System which are 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
The 2017 Kia K900 comes in three models with these base prices.
Premium V6 $49,900
Luxury V6 $54,900
Luxury V8 $61,900
Clean Fleet Report’s K900 Luxury V8 was equipped with the VIP Plus Package adding $6,000 for a total price of $67,900. All prices listed do not include the $950 freight and handling charge.
The 2017 Kia K900 comes with these warranties.
Powertrain 10 years/100,000 miles
Basic Five years/60,000 miles
Roadside Five years/60,000 miles
Observations: 2017 Kia K900 Luxury
Kia’s first foray into the luxury class has delivered a competent full-size car that is wonderfully equipped, powerful, pleasant to look at and fantastic to ride in. The next step for them will be to emulate their sister brand Hyundai and completely redesign the K900 in the coming years so it takes the next step to competing with the like of Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Cadillac and BMW.
Clean Fleet Report is interested in how relevant the K900, or other full-size luxury cars and SUVs, 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? Or will you continue to look for luxury touches in smaller cars that get considerably better fuel economy? We want to hear from you.
Coming to Clean Fleet Report means you are looking for fuel economy first and foremost. 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 2017 Kia K900.
Whatever you buy, Happy Driving!
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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
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