Seat Time: 2015 KIA K900

April 21st, 2015 at 3:39pm

KIA K900

Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.

Reviewer: Chip Drake
Manufacturer: KIA
Make: K900
Model: Luxury
Type: Large Sedan Segment
Competitors: Lexus LS 460, Mercedes-Benz S550, Audi A8, BMW 740 LI
Price: MSRP  $59,500 + VIP Package $6,000 + F&H $900  =   $66,400 (as tested)
Made in: Sohari Plant, South Korea
Drivetrain: 5.0L Gas Direct Engine V8 Engine, 8-Speed Automatic Transmission
EPA Ratings: 15mpg City, 23mpg Highway, 18mpg Combined

Final Impression:
KIA K900
Over the past week I’ve been dealing with a lot of LSE, or the Lazy Susan Effect, as I call it. That’s when I see pedestrians, passengers or fellow drivers transfixed by the car I’m driving. Heads automatically roll right or left as they attempt to get a better look at it.

Now to be honest, it doesn’t happen very often, so when it does it’s sort of unique. So which so-called super car caused the latest version of LSE this past week? Something British, Italian or German perhaps? Amazingly enough, the answer is none of the above. This car was all Asian: the South Korean KIA K900.

This rear-wheel-drive car is the brand’s first foray into the luxury segment and for whatever reason the car seems to have struck a nerve.

Now maybe it’s drawing so many eyeballs on the street because some see its luxury competitors in the design; A little Jaguar on the nose perhaps, maybe a bit of Mercedes peeking out from the inside and then how about a look of Cadillac on the rear.

KIA K900

And I think that’s certainly part of it. But in reality you have a large rear-wheel-drive car a with striking design that’s rarely seen on the road because there are so few of them in the U.S. With that sort of mixture even the most avid automotive enthusiasts can be challenged by what just happened to drive by.

But besides being striking and rather rare, the K900 is a big car with nearly a 120-inch wheelbase and it is 74.8 inches wide. with standard 19-inch wheels; in this case chrome alloy.

On the inside, the interior contends with many of the big boys in the luxury segment. Beautiful white Nappa leather, gorgeous wood accent trim, a nicely designed center stack and console and let’s not forget the attractive analog clock.

KIA K900And when it comes to electronics, safe to say the car is definitely equipped. From a Panoramic Sunroof with a Power Shade to the UVO eServices with Telematics to a bushel full of push button this, power that, and the usual allotment of warning and sensor safety systems, the K900 certainly packs an electronic wallop. Especially when you get the $6,000 VIP package with one of the sweetest Heads Up Displays I’ve tested. The colorful graphics were so powerful they jumped out at me even in strong sunlight.

And I think it almost goes without saying (since I’m putting this so far into the Seat Time) that the 5.0-Liter V8 with 8-Speed Automatic was a more than adequate powertrain: plenty powerful on the highway yet well restrained around town.

But despite its feature-rich package of power, ride and handling, and electronics, perhaps the most attractive element of the KIA K900 is the window sticker. Now granted, it may technically be in the S-Class competitive segment, however, you’re really only paying an E-Class price. This test car’s MSRP listed at just under $60,000 topping out at $66,400 with the option package I mentioned earlier as well as F&H.

Some will counter with questions about the K900 having similar quality as the S-Class and wondering if the technology holds up against M-B’s?

Of course the answer to both those questions is that the Mercedes is still the champ when the two go mano-a-mano, but then you’re obviously paying for it. It’ll cost you around six figures for that brand of car. But if you’re looking to step into the large luxury sedan segment without too much of a compromise, and still save $30 grand plus, the KIA K900 is a very nice option. And if you do happen to choose it, then maybe you’ll have the chance to experience the Lazy Susan Effect for yourself.

3 Comments to “Seat Time: 2015 KIA K900”

  1. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Chip, under EPA ratings, should it have said 28 hwy, 23 combined?

    Chuck

  2. Mike Ma Says:

    Another contender might be Cadillac’s new CT6-Vsport with AWD, AWS and a 400hp twin-turbo 3.0L V6; Cadillac’s CT6 might be a bit more expensive and while the twin-turbo 3.0L V6 generates 20hp less, it should have a curb weight that’s 300-400 lbs lighter and the All-Wheel-Steering should give the CT6 a slight advantage on the road as far as handling goes.

  3. CarGuyRandy Says:

    @Mike Ma. Except that AWS is a gimmick, and it really doesn’t help much or at all in turning radius as several tests have shown with AWS Acuras. In addition all wheel steer adds complexity to the car. It’s another thing that can go wrong.

    Let’s also not forget the CT6 will likely cost quite a bit more than the K9 despite offering virtually the same technology.

    The CT6 will also use magnetic ride control which sounds cool, but in reality it can’t modulate the suspension firmness/stiffness as quick or as seamlessly as mechanical continuous dampers.