Luxury in an unexpected suit
Back in 2011, Hyundai did something that most people just didn’t understand at the time. They brought a vehicle from overseas that would seemingly go right up against the likes of BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, and Audi all while maintaining a cost savings people would expect from a brand like Hyundai. Just because it would be significantly cheaper than the big name brands didn’t mean it wasn’t still going to be the most expensive vehicle they would sell. Most people can’t see spending in the lower to upper $60’s for a Hyundai. It just so happens that New Years of 2011, we were able to get our hands on one of the first Equus to hit the showroom floor. It obviously had its flaws, but in the end the car was an incredible bang for its buck. Fast forward to New Years of 2015 and we find ourselves once again driving a car that goes against conventional wisdom. The Equus had more success here in the U.S. market than anyone expected, so now it was Kia’s turn to show out; in comes the K900.
Like the Equus, the K900 is a car some people don’t understand. This is a Kia with rear-wheel-drive, a 5.0-liter V8 engine pushing 420-horsepower, and a base sticker price in the mid $50k range. Why would someone pay that kind of money for a Kia?
Let’s start out with its looks. Unlike the Hyundai, which doesn’t really share any design-cues with the rest of the lineup, the K900 fits perfectly alongside the Optima and Cadenza. Seeing this car driving down the road, there is no mistaking the fact that it’s a Kia, which you could tell was something Hyundai wasn’t prepared to do. In my opinion, this was a bold move for Kia, but their design language is so nice that it just fits. I’ve often said that the Optima is one of the best looking sedans in its class, so moving that look into a bigger, more luxurious platform just makes sense.
Up front is the standard, large grille that has been chromed out. You get some beautiful LED headlights that look more like jewelry than anything else. They are quite functional, though, using new Dynamic Bending Light technology that helps illuminate what you need to see even if it’s around a corner. Looking down the hood, you’ll see four distinctive lines all pointing toward the dominate Kia badge resting proudly on top. These lines give the vehicle a sporty and lean look; a hard feat to pull off in such a large car. The side mirrors have LED turn signals built in that almost make a ‘V’ shape following the same lines as you see on the hood.
When you see this car from its side is when you start to realize its true size. This car is 200.6-inches from nose to tail. In comparison, a BMW 7-Series is about 5-inches longer. The other thing you’ll notice while looking down the side of the car is the one design gripe I would have with the K900. Kia has fit a Buick-like side vent behind the front wheels. I really think it just looks awkward in proportions to this car, but I’ve never really been a fan of fake vents either. That being said, many other vehicles in Kia’s lineup have similar vents in similar places. Around back, you also get a clean and upscale look with LED taillights and predominate, dual-chrome exhaust tips.
All of this is nice and good, but where the K900 really needs to shine is where you’ll be spending most of your time. Looking inside the car, you would almost forget that this is a Kia, except for the proud badge right in the center of the steering wheel. The cabin is extremely spacious no matter where you enter or sit in this car. Everything is wrapped in beautiful leather and accented with real wood. Our test vehicle had a black on black interior that was nice and had a more old-school luxury look and feel. Kia also offers a black and white interior with white leather seats and more black accents around the cabin. In my opinion, this is the better looking interior to go with as it gives a much more modern interpretation of luxury.
The amount of luxurious features and technology packed into this car are seemingly endless. You get all of the features you would come to expect from almost any vehicle these day like heated and cooled seats, bluetooth wireless, voice activated infotainment system, steering wheel mounted controls, and push button start with smart key entry. You also get so much more including park assist, front and rear parking sensors, surround view monitor showing 360-view around the car, blind-spot detection, rear-cross alert system, advanced smart cruise control, lane departure warning, driver select mode, color heads-up display, power open and close trunk, and so much more.
One of the predominant features of the interior is the Lexicon Discrete Logic7 surround sound system, a 900-watt audio system with 17-speakers and an external amplifier and subwoofer. This is a great system with really good quality sound, but it’s also connected to the 9.2-inch display with UVO eServices, Kia’s infotainment and onboard app system. There are a lot of great systems out there these days including those found in Ford, Chrysler, and Toyota vehicles, but I would definitely rank these UVO systems up there with the top brands. Connecting bluetooth was done with ease as you pair your phone to the vehicle. Making voice commands was pretty smooth and I didn’t have to repeat myself for the car to understand what I was trying to accomplish.
Another great part about the interior of this car is the rear seats. Yes, the rear seat passengers are not second class in this car. The center armrest has many controls for adjusting the climate in the rear seats. They also have heated and cooled options and can recline with a touch of a button. This car is often used as chauffeured vehicle in Korea, so it makes sense to focus luxury in the rear seats as well.
It’s all about luxury, but not just visible luxury. One thing that can’t be ignored with a large luxury sedan is the way it drives and the way it’s powered. As I mentioned earlier, the K900 comes with a 5.0-liter V8 engine delivering 420-hp and 376-lb. ft. of torque. That’s a lot of power, but it’s needed to push around this heavy car. It feels good too, to be able to put your foot down and blow away other vehicles on the road. It definitely has the power on tap when you need it.
If there was one big gripe I have with this car, it would be with the steering feel. This big, heavy luxury sedan has a very light and floaty steering feel. This is okay for smooth, luxury driving, but I prefer a heavier feel with more direct and faster inputs. It’s not that I want this to be a sports car, it’s clearly not, but having that feel and sense of weight through the steering makes you feel more in control and planted especially when driving at highway speeds. The K900 at times almost felt dangerous to drive because you never really knew what the steering what going to do. Putting the steering into sport-mode does help tighten up the feel but it’s still something I’d like to see Kia address and at this point it’s all about the software.
At the end of my week, I felt torn on what I really thought about this car. It was incredible to drive giving you a real sense of luxury, performance, and overall comfort. Putting it up against anything else on the market that could compete in size, technology, style, or luxury would mean spending $20-30k more. I even like the styling and the overall feel of the car more than its Hyundai sibling. When it comes down to it though, would this be a car I would buy if I was in the market? I would say yes. Don’t discount this car because of the badge on the hood. The K900 is a great vehicle and I’m excited to see how well it does for the Kia brand.