The Kia K900 is Kia's first rear-wheel-drive luxury sedan brought to the North American market. Proven in the home market where it's called K9 (like Audi A6, etc.) it comes here wearing the K900 alphanumeric moniker favored by most competitors. It isn't twice as good as a Lexus 460 nor nearly on par with a Porsche 911 but it makes a compelling argument for room and gadgets–per-dollar.
The 2015 Kia K900 will be available with a 420-hp V8 engine and a 311-hp V6, though the V6 joins the lineup a few months after the V8. Every K900 comes with fully independent suspension, rear-wheel drive, 8-speed automatic transmission, leather upholstery and three-zone climate control. Derived from the same basic structure as Hyundai's Equus flagship, the K900 is shorter than that car outside but roomier up front. We liken it to the relationship between Rolls-Royce and Bentley, where the Equus (Rolls) is the owner's driven car and the Kia (Bentley) is driven by its owner.
Family resemblance is obvious, the K900 appearing for most intents and purposes a slightly larger Cadenza with the bulk of bodywork slid rearward a few inches. We find it handsome enough, though the only styling elements that really stand out are the 2x4 LED headlight arrays. Save the backup lights, every light on a K900 is LED.
Inside it's all leather, wood and chrome highlighted black lacquer finishes. The carpet actually feels like one, the mats are thick, lower door pillars are not hard plastic and the scuff plates are illuminated. Room is abundant, generally more than a mid-size or standard-wheelbase luxury car, not quite as spacious as long-wheelbase luxury rides.
Kia heaps on loads of standard features as well, including their extensive warranty and things like heated rear seats that are $600-$800 options on pricier competitors. And there is one option package for the V8 model, not an endless a la carte page that can add 50 percent to the price at the check of a few boxes.
The K900 does not offer air suspension, adjustable ride firmness or other whiz-bang chassis electronics, instead relying on a capable, quiet, cruiser chassis. Other cars may ride better or handle better, or do both, but they'll cost significantly more, a K900 V8 is $13,000 less than a Lexus LS460, $14,000 less than Jaguar XJ V6, $15,000 less than Audi A8 V6, $18,000 less than a six-cylinder BMW 740, and $33,000 less than a Mercedes-Benz S550.
We won't directly compare a K900 to those cars but the room is similar, the luxury ambiance close. What you give up is a degree of refinement, anything from how quiet and smooth the seat adjuster or trunk closer is, to how well it absorbs a mid-corner bump diving into a corner. But if you don't drive it like a hot-rod sports sedan, and don't actually notice things like seat motor sounds, does it make any difference to you?
The 2015 Kia K900 comes with a choice of V6 or V8 engines, both with an 8-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive.
The Kia K900 V6 uses a 311-hp 3.8-liter V6 engine and 18-inch alloy wheels. Standard features include leather upholstery and trim, three-zone climate control, 12-way driver with memory/8-way passenger heated and ventilated power seats, heated rear seats with pass-through, aluminum cabin trim, adaptive HID headlights, LED fog, tail and running lamps, power trunklid, smart key remote/pushbutton start, rain-sensing wipers, power-folding auto-dimming outside mirrors, illuminated scuff plates (4), 900-watt 17-speaker Lexicon AM/FM/HD/CD/XM sound system with USB/aux in and UVO eServices, Bluetooth, navigation, front and rear cameras, power tilt/telescope steering wheel, electro-luminescent instruments, front/rear park sensors with park guidance, and manual side and power rear window shades. V6 options include a panoramic moonroof, soft-close doors, Nappa perforated and piped leather, heated leather/wood steering wheel, blind spot/rear cross traffic alerts, smart cruise control with full-stop, advanced vehicle safety management system, 16-way power front seats and wood trim.
The Kia K900 V8 ($59,500) gets a 420-hp 5-liter engine and staggered 19-inch chrome alloy wheels with lower-profile tires. It comes with most of the V6 equipment, Nappa leather, wood trim, LED headlights, panoramic moonroof, heated leather/wood steering wheel, blind spot/rear cross traffic alerts and credit-card size smart key. A VIP package ($6000) adds soft-close doors, 12.3-inch TFT instrument cluster, around view monitor, advanced vehicle safety management, 16-way power front seats, ventilated power-reclining rear seats, power 60/40 reclining rear seats and head-up display.
Safety features standard on all models include front, front side-impact, rear side-impact and side curtain airbags, front belt pretensioners, front and rear cameras, electronic stability and traction control, brake assist and tire pressure monitors. Available or standard on higher trims are four-camera monitor and advanced safety vehicle management.