There was a point in time where Kia was the last automaker you would think of when you were looking for a large luxury sedan with gobs of power, an incredible list of standard features and a stylish, high tech exterior design, but the 2015 Kia K900 is a glowing example of how far the Korean brand has come in the last decade. While Kia has done a remarkable job of offering sporty, fun to drive vehicles that were efficient, inexpensive and surprisingly well appointed, it still wasn’t a brand that had a vehicle that you would really call a luxury car. The also-new Cadenza is a gorgeous sedan and the popular Optima offers a stunning amount of content for the price…but those aren’t luxury cars.
The 2015 Kia K900, on the other hand, is the definition of a large luxury sedan, featuring the power, the comforts and the technology that you get from the European luxury brands for a fraction of the price.
Now, in addition to having more power, more amenities and more technology than any other previous Kia vehicle, the K900 also has the biggest price that we have ever seen from the smaller of the two Korean automakers. My K900 test vehicle was fitted with the features of the Luxury trimline and the VIP package, so it came with literally every option that you can get from the Kia brand, but all of the goodies come with a price - $66,400 to be exact.
You might be thinking that $66k is an awfully steep price for a Kia, but this Kia is unlike anything that we have seen in the past and for that $66k, you get features that would cost you $90k from the large European luxury sedans.
The exterior design of the 2015 Kia K900 wears the familiar language of the entire modern Kia lineup with a sporty, high tech look, but the Korean automaker has done a great job of applying their look to a large sedan with luxury proportions. This includes a long wheelbase, a huge greenhouse under a long, sloping roofline, a wide stance and a splash of chrome here and there. The common aspects of the Kia brand are present, including the LED-trimmed HID headlights, the uniquely shaped grille, and the big, bright LED taillights – but there is no question that this large sedan has a luxury feel that is unlike any previous Kia vehicle.
If you were to cover the logos and the grille shape, there is a good chance that a great many every day drivers might mistake the K900 for one of the large BMW or Lexus sedans, as this car is big in every direction while sharp accent lines and carefully placed curves give this big 4-door a sleek feel that I love. Up front, the Kia grille fits the car well, and the LED-trimmed headlights are among the best looking designs in the industry. These headlights have a unique twin-quad HID headlight design with each headlight assembly housing two individual lighting units with four small projection units in each. This design provides a ton of light when driving at night, while also looking incredibly cool during the day.
Along the sides, the long wheelbase and long roofline lead to a huge cabin, and the outside of this huge passenger compartment has just enough chrome to make it clear that this is a luxury sedan. Unique to the K900 Luxury package are the large chrome wheels that are set out to the corners, which gives the range-topping Kia sedan a stable feel and a limo-like look.
Out back, the 2015 Kia K900 Luxury has dual exhaust tips mounted in a deep reaching rear fascia with big, bright LED taillight mounted above. A chrome strip connects the two lights and with the chrome badging, the back end has a subtle yet luxurious feel.
Overall, I don’t have anything to complain about with the exterior design of the 2015 Kia K900. It is sporty, aggressive and high tech, while having just the right amount of chrome to make it clear that this large sedan is a luxury machine.
When you open the driver’s door of the 2015 Kia K900 Luxury with the VIP package, there is absolutely no question that this is a premium luxury sedan. The VIP package adds a white leather treatment on the seats, center console, dash and door panels which contrast beautifully against the otherwise black cabin. Joining the white leather is a heavy dose of satin silver trim throughout the cockpit with gloss black finishes covering much of the flat surfaces through the center console and center stack.
When you climb into the driver’s seat of the K900, everything that you need to control every aspect of the interior is right at your fingertips. The K900 features a rotary dial control interface that is mounted in the center console, allowing the driver to use the controls without lifting his or her elbow off of the center armrest. This rotary knob is joined by buttons for the hands-free phone system, the navigation system, the front camera system, snow mode, and the feature buttons which work in conjunction with the gigantic 9.2 inch infotainment screen. This system allows you to adjust the sound system, the navigation and the interior settings, but if you don’t like the rotary controls or the many steering wheel controls, the K900 has a small spread of simple to use buttons and knobs mounted just below the 9.2 inch screen with all of the basics for the sound system and climate control. Best of all, since all of the controls are mounted in the middle of the vehicle, the passenger can make adjustments just as easily as the driver. Also, the driver benefits from the massive 12.3” thin film transistor (TFT) gauge cluster that includes all of the basic vehicle parameters along with the driver’s choice of other information including navigation commands and sound system information.
Also, in addition to the Sport Mode making the K900 more fun to drive, swapping to Sport Mode completely changes the look of the gauge cluster from something that is very classic looking to a much higher tech looking spread, as shown in the image below.
The 2015 Kia K900 has a long wheelbase and a big greenhouse, both of which yield a passenger compartment that has a ton of space. Whether you are sitting in the front or the back, ever very tall occupants will have plenty of seating space in every direction. The front and rear outboard seats are heated and cooled, and there is so much space in the rear seats that the K900 includes a limo-like control panel in the rear center armrest. This allows rear passengers to adjust the climate control of the whole vehicle from the back, while also having control over the sound system. Also if the boss is sitting in the right rear seat, he or she can gain more legroom by moving the front passenger seat forward with controls on that rear panel.
Finally, in addition to the spacious, high tech interior, the plush, leather seats that are both heated and cooled and the premium driver information system – the 2015 K900 feature a gigantic sunroof that extends from the front to the rear. Only the front half retracts, but the back portion allows for a brighter rear seating area during the day and a ride under the stars at night.
The 2015 Kia K900 Luxury VIP sedan has literally everything that you could ask for in a large luxury sedan. From the plus, comfortable seats that are as comfortable in the back as they are in the front to the easy-access controls in the front and rear to the white Nappa leather to the huge glass roof treatment – the cabin of the K900 is as plush and as luxurious as any other large sedan sold in America…and it’s from Kia.
The 2015 Kia K900 is powered by a 5.0L V8 that sends 420 horsepower and 376lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission. This engine makes the K900 a blast to drive, offering impressive low end and mid-range acceleration as the 8-speed transmission moves quickly through the gears during stints of spirited driving, but it doesn’t shift hard enough to compromise the ride quality. All of that power leads to a driving experience that never gets old, especially if you like launching hard from stop lights – and maybe the occasional burnout.
The ride quality of the K900 is excellent and nearly silent, and while it handles well for a big luxury sedan, the K900 isn’t a car that you will spend racing around a road course. When you switch into Sport Mode, the transmission stretches the lower gears out for better performance, it stiffens up the steering, it sharpens up the throttle response and it stiffens up the adaptive suspension for an all-around more engaging drive and, in my opinion, it does all of this without compromising ride quality enough to make a real negative impact. Truth be told, I spent most of my drive time in Sport Mode and if I owned a K900, it would also be in Sport Mode.
When you aren’t driving the Kia K900 like a performance car, the transmission shifts smoothly and quietly, the engine is very quiet (I would say too quiet, but I digress) and very little noise of any kind makes it into the cabin. The K900 offers the kind of comfort that you expect from a large luxury sedan with a buttery smooth ride even on the roughest roads.
While the 420 horsepower V8 makes the Kia K900 fun to drive, it doesn’t do much for fuel economy. The EPA expects the K900 to get 15mpg around town, 23 on the highway and 18mpg combined. While the driver information center indicated that the K900 easily got 23mpg on the highway, my heavy right foot and my love of horsepower caused me to average closer to 16mpg during my 8 days in the high end Kia. These aren’t great fuel economy numbers compared to the rest of the Kia lineup, but for a large luxury sedan with 420 horsepower, I don’t think that the mediocre fuel economy is going to turn off many prospective buyers.
Really, whether you are driving the Kia K900 in morning rush hour traffic or across the state on a weekend trip with the family, the K900 never feels like anything but a 420 horsepower luxury sedan. Like the European luxury sedans, the K900 combines power with comfort, but it does for tens of thousands less.
The Final Word
If you want a large luxury sedan with sporty exterior styling, a high tech interior and a powerful V8 engine without paying $80,000, the Kia K900 could be your ideal new car. The K900 packs everything that you get from the large European and Japanese luxury sedans into a great looking package, but it does so for $10-20k less than the competition. This is a perfect car for someone who cares more about what they get for their money than the name on the hood so if you want European luxury at a massive discount, make sure that the K900 is on your short list.
Kia has gone from being a company that put low cost and fuel efficiency before everything else to a company that can offer a super-premium luxury car that is as much of a bargain as the rest of the brand’s lineup. Where the Optima made waves in the popular midsized segment by including a long list of standard features for a low price, the K900 works the same low-price magic in the large luxury sedan segment.
Good job, Kia. Very, very good job.