If you’re like so many people who are now in love with Kia, the K900 offers you a luxury edition. With an MSRP starting well north of $50,000, the Kia K900 creeps into the territory of luxury brands such as Lexus, Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, and the like. Though the move may be surprising, it’s not exactly original — Toyota and Nissan, for example, have done the same, albeit under renamed luxury brands (Lexus and Infiniti).
The Kia K900 ventures into the same category, and this first effort delivers many features you’d expect from a luxury sedan, such as beautiful wood and leather trim, but at a Kia-level price point — that is, a relative bargain compared to competing automakers.
As a large luxury sedan, the 2015 Kia K900 borrows style and design cues from its peers, including Tesla and Lexus. It retains Kia’s signature chrome grille in front and adds strong LED headlights.
Inside, drivers and passengers can enjoy a comfortable, stylish cockpit marked by soft-touch materials, as well as wood and metal accents. The driver’s seat is highly adjustable, though legroom may be tight for taller passengers.
However, the rear seat is expansive and should accommodate other riders comfortably. The typical luxury details are present: a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel, multizone climate control, and a large touchscreen display that can be controlled by a knob placed right on the console.
In addition, you’ll find powered and heated rear-view mirrors with automatic dimming and the indicators for the car’s blind-spot monitors. As standard, all models come with privacy shades on the door, rear-side, and rear windows.
If you opt for a V-8, you can look forward to a full-length panoramic glass roof with a power retractable sunshade.
Overall, it’s a welcome environment, but it falls short of the German manufacturers and Lexus. For example, you’ll see certain features and details that would be finished in chrome or metal in high-end vehicles, but instead are plastic in the Kia K900. It may sound like a small difference, but that’s exactly why you pay what you pay for a Mercedes.
You’ll ride in quiet comfort, thanks to Kia K900’s many noise-reduction features ad good suspension, but don’t expect the pure power or pinpoint handling of, say, BMW or Audi. The K900 is available in both V-6 and V-8 models, respectively delivering between 300 and 420 horsepower, but Kia does not offer all-wheel drive on any model.
Also, drivers can choose between Normal, Sport, or Eco settings. The differences are subtle, and most drivers will probably leave the K900 in Normal.
The Kia K900 has not been officially rated for safety by the national agencies, but the safety features are plentiful. The K900 comes with eight airbags as standard, as well as electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, and a tire-pressure warning system. In addition, the K900 can be fitted with numerous electronic safety systems, including optional adaptive cruise control, an advance collision warning system with automatic braking, blind-spot proximity warning, rear cross-traffic alert, a surround-view system with parking guidance, and a camera-based lane-departure warning system. Note that lane correction to steer the car back into its lane is not available, though it’s often packaged on other high-end luxury sedans.
As a large sedan, the Kia K900 does not offer spectacular numbers. The smaller 3.8-liter V-6 with eight-speed automatic clocks in at 18 mpg city, 27 mpg highway, while the ultimate 5.0-liter V-8 hits 15 mpg city, 23 mpg highway. The Kia K900 is not available in hybrid or diesel models — yet.
With the K900, Kia ventures into new territory in terms of price and features. It’s a gutsy, intriguing move, as the carmaker promises to stay true to its roots, delivering value for features and quality. Overall, it succeeds, offering a comfortable, stylish ride with many of the amenities seen in its competitors. However, it still has a ways to go before it’s directly on par with the hallowed German automakers. It may be too early to tell how Kia will eventually measure up, but remember: That’s how Lexus started, and see where it is now.
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Written by Jane Emery