Mountain Wheels: Kia’s flagship K900 goes where no Kia has gone before
July 12, 2014
2015 Kia K900
MSRP: $59,500; as tested, $66,400 (including destination)
Powertrain: 420-HP 5.0-liter V-8 engine, 8-speed automatic transmission
EPA mpg figures: 18 combined; 15 city, 23 highway
It’s an odd beast, indeed: Sounds like a Russian submarine. Looks like a giant Lexus. Endorsed by a ’90s-era science fiction character. And it’s Korean.
The new Kia K900, the company’s new executive-class cruiser and status seeker, is quite the colorful collision of cultures and styles. Yes, it’s a $60,000-plus Kia, if you want your mind blown, right off the top. Yes, it’s optionally outfitted with a 420-horsepower V-8, and it has all the buttons and functions and features you’ll find on a Mercedes S-Class, at about half the retail price.
We think this might be the overall mission statement for the K900, not the most elegantly named super-cruiser to debut, but … certainly quite a lovely vehicle and actually a bargain, once you do start considering its high-end, aspirational competition.
I opted to do my whole K900 test drive in absolute reverse, ignoring the succulent Nappa leather, the infinite technological advances and the real walnut or poplar trim, and instead driving it like a 420-horsepower sports car, albeit one that’s more than 200 inches long and weighs about 4,555 pounds.
This seemingly bulky and burdensome beast was instead lithesome, dynamic, explosively powerful when necessary and … dear goodness, fun to drive, even with all of that metal real estate and the shiny bits and the infinitely power-adjustable rear seats, crafted for a Member of Parliament. Mine also had a white interior that made it look like a very old Puff Daddy video. And was kind of awesome, as a result.
You don’t have to get the K900 with all of its V-8 magnificence — a 3.8-liter V-6, good for 311 horsepower and probably capable of more than the 23 highway mpg the K900 is rated for, is also an option. In an additionally noble gesture, Kia provides the first three years’ worth of maintenance free.
K900’s overall style is rather Audi-inspired, with a range of layers, tall angles, lightning bolts of chrome and an abundance of magnificence.
The finishing details are also aiming pretty high, with almost Jaguar-level stitched-leather dash tops, more gleaming chrome and wood and one of those new-fangled, Jaguar-style gear selectors that looks like an electric razor. Let me say Jaguar once more, just to drive home the point.
And the infotainment electronics are also pretty good, though the maps are still largely rubbish. The safety aid package is also impressive, including what is definitively the auto industry’s most jarring lane departure and blind spot warning system — useful for those of you who are upgrading from your Kia Spectra to the K900, having won the state lottery, and are not used to piloting a semi-largish automobile. The very loud warnings can, happily, be disabled.
Unlike the Hyundai Equus, the conjoined Korean twins’ other unbelievably high-end offering, Kia has done a much more comprehensive job of concealing anything that might be shared with one of the K900’s $10,000-ish stable mates — Equus, as large and grand and powerful as it is, has all the same buttons and knobs as Hyundai’s low-priced offerings.
The K900 plays the stylish game with a fully electronic, 12.3-inch instrument display, capable of reverting to a sport mode that features both a digital speedometer and a digital tachometer — the latter being a weird set of numbers to have flashing at you.
The 17-speaker, 900-watt Lexicon audio system also does its best to rival the ridiculously high-end stereos found in the K900’s ridiculously expensive competitive set.
My test model did include the $6,000 “VIP” package, which upgrades the rear seats and added a head-up display and surround-view rear parking monitor.