2015 Kia K900

Kia Enters Modern Luxury World with 2015 Kia K900 Sedan

Kia has introduced its first luxury sedan: the 2015 Kia K900. On the technical and aesthetic levels the car succeeds but can it excel on the most crucial level: the marketplace?

Lets address the important information first. The Kia K900 is a rear-wheel drive luxury sedan offered in two powertrains: a 420-horsepower V8 or a 311-horsepower V6. The V8 model goes on sale first with the V6 to follow later this spring.

It comes packed with standard luxury features on the V8 model, including: adaptive LED headlights, heated leather steering wheel; standard Nappa leather; soft-hue LED interior illumination; genuine walnut (with black Nappa leather) or poplar (with white Nappa leather) wood trim sweeps across the dash and door panels; 12-way adjustable driver’s seat, including power lumbar support; front and rear seats with multi-stage heating and ventilation; reclining rear seats; and a full-length panoramic roof with power retractable sunshade.

Other nice features are a 9.2-inch navigation screen, a 900-watt Lexicon sound system with 17 speakers that you can barely get to 50 percent before needing to turn it down, adaptive cruise control with full stop, surround view monitor for 369 degree view of the vehicle, and rear cross-traffic alert.

The K900 also comes with rear-wheel drive. Don't expect all-wheel drive any time soon. As Orth Hendricks, VP of planning, said, "Other brands haven't figured out rear-wheel drive is the right platform for luxury." Take that Audi. The K900 also gets Kia's first eight-speed automatic transmission.

You are probably not going to find a quieter larger sedan on the road in this class. That's thanks to the generous use of laminate glass on the windshield and side windows as well as an underbody airflow management system. The car is almost too quite with no corresponding aural sensations under hard acceleration like you would expect from a powerful V8.

That covers the technical level of why the Kia K900 is going to succeed. But lets take a moment to look at the aesthetic level. Kia has a created a good looking sedan. It's not quite a head turner along the lines of a BMW 7 series or Mercedes S class and that's ultimately a good thing. The people who are going to buy and/or lease a Kia K900 (expect more of the latter) are going to be proud of their vehicles but not wanting to scream, "I'm driving a $60,000 Kia." They will share their penurious ways with their friends but not broadcast it to the world.

That's one of the things that sunk the VW Phaeton – a truly spectacular sedan. It had a VW emblem on it the size of a dinner plate. Nobody wanted to admit to dropping up to $100,000 for a VW 10 years ago.

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The target market for the K900 is people 45-54 years old with a household income from $200,000 to $500,000 a year. They are college educated (usually with advanced degrees) and are C-level executives or company owners.

Michael Sprague, Kia executive vice president of sales and marketing, told media gathered in Southern California, that the Kia K900 is "the new definition of luxury." He said Kia, which is celebrating two decades in the United States, used to be a challenger brand, i.e. one that had to be scrappy to earn its customers. "Why can't we challenge luxury convention? There's a lot of opportunity for a brand like ours."

Kia is pitting itself against the BMW 740i, which costs $84,325; the Audi A8 at $83,150; the Lexus LS at $77,750 and the Mercedes S class at $93,825. The top-of-the-line Kia K900, in the V8 VIP edition is going to cost $65,500 – or about $20,000 less than the comparably equipped BMW. The base Kia K900 V6 model should cost abut $50,000.

One thing Kia is not setting out to do is copy the Hyundai Equus, which, at least on paper, offers a better sales and service experience. Customers don't have to set foot in a Hyundai dealership because sales and service staff will come to them. Kia calls the K900 more modern luxury vs. the traditional luxury of the Equus. They won't come out and say it but the K900 feels more sporty.

Is the Kia K900 the right choice for luxury sedan buyers? I'd say it's a qualified yes. Are you secure enough with your success not to need to flaunt it? Then the Kia K900 is a wise choice because it delivers all that its more expensive rivals do and leaves you with $20,000 in your pocket.

VITAL STATISTICS

  • Wheelbase: 119.9 inches
  • Length: 200.6 inches
  • Width: 74.8 inches
  • Height: 58.7 inches
  • Curb weight: 4,555 lbs.
  • Engine: 5.0L V8, DOHC Gasoline Direct Injection
  • Horsepower: 420 hp @ 6,400 rpm
  • Torque: 376 lb. ft. @ 5,000 rpm
  • EPA estimated mpg city/highway: 15/23 (premium required)
  • Base price: $59,500
  • As-tested price: $65,500
  • Also consider: (a comparative vehicle) BMW 7 series, Audi A8, Mercedes S class, Hyundai Equus

Comments

The new Kia K900 is a brilliant entry into the luxury car field. Buying affordable luxury cars has become difficult because many of the options that should come standard are, instead, sold as options with inflated prices. Compare the as-delivered price of the Kia K900, particularly with the V8 engine, against any European imported V8 luxury sedan of similar size and equipment and you will find a very large price difference. I happen to thing the K900 has superior styling, and it certainly has great interior space. Based on the lower priced Kia a relative has driven for six years, the Kia K900 will be very reliable. Unlike some high powered imported luxury V8 cars, the Kia K900 is tuned for a smooth, quiet ride with a minimum of exhaust and engine sound. Quiet is the sound of luxury.