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TEST DRIVE: 2015 KIA K900

This entry was posted in Autonet on September 9th, 2015.

The K900 is Kia’s attempt at challenging the large limousine-like sedans from BMW, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and more.

2015 Kia K900

I’m guessing that most people reading this review will have never heard of the 2015 Kia K900, and I wouldn’t blame you. Despite some aggressive marketing that included a 2014 Super Bowl commercial featuring Laurence Fishburne reprising his role as Morpheus from the Matrix movies, this is a car that simply isn’t brought up in conversation very often.

That’s a real shame, because believe me – this is a vehicle worth talking about. In fact, I barely shut up about it during my week testing it.

The K900 is Kia’s attempt at challenging the large limousine-like sedans from BMW, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and more. No, you didn’t misread that – Kia is taking on the halo cars from some of the most competitive luxury brands from around the world.

Here’s the kicker, though: the K900 is up to the task. This is an absolutely wonderful vehicle, and I’m legitimately disappointed when I have to return it after my week-long test drive. That may sound like hyperbole, but it’s not.

Kia has long been seen by North Americans as a value-focused car brand and not much else, but the automaker is clearly trying to change that perception with the K900. That’s not to suggest that value is a bad thing, it’s just that there’s more to the company than that.

The K900 is the first Kia model to carry a V8 engine, and it’s the brand’s first rear-wheel drive vehicle in North America.

Despite its luxury prowess (more on that soon), the K900 is a lot of fun to drive. And make no mistake – although vehicles in this segment are designed to chauffeur people in the back seats, they’re typically engineered to be excellent driving machines as well.

Kia is clearly aware of this, hence that beefy engine under the hood and those back wheels doing the driving. It feels a little floaty during typical driving situations, but the more I push it through highway on-ramps, the more I realize it loves to be driven hard. It exhibits some body lean, but not enough to make me nervous, and boy do those wheels love to squeal! This sedan may give off a mature aura, but in keeping with Kia’s youthful approach, the K900 is still a lot of fun.

Move inside, and it’s easy to see this really is a handsome and no-nonsense vehicle. Nappa leather abounds, complimented by a touch of wood accents and chrome. My V8 Elite test vehicle is loaded with just about every technology a person could want, but the K900 never shoves this stuff down the driver’s throat.

It may not have gesture-controlled infotainment, massaging seats, or heated armrests, but I couldn’t care less. I’m just happy that it has an old-fashioned dial to tune the radio, and a traditional column shifter.

Some may argue that the K900 is already featuring old technology, but I’d counter that by saying it’s one of the most user-friendly vehicles I’ve experienced in years.

As for the luxury part, I do a “blind” test with some family members where I cover all Kia logos and badges, and drive them in the massive back seats that are heated and cooled and include numerous sunshades and power-adjustments. I then ask them what vehicle make they think it is. Common answers include “Mercedes-Benz, “Buick,” and “Cadillac” (only one person said they thought it could be a Kia).

I already know it’s a Kia, and even after a week I’m still wondering how they did such a great job with this vehicle, and kept the cost so low. I drove a Jaguar XJL last year that may have had a few more features and state-of-the-art tech than the K900, but it also cost about $40,000 more. Give me the choice, and with all due respect to Jaguar, I’ll take the Kia, thank you very much.

The K900 may not be setting sales reports on fire, but no matter – this is still one of the best vehicles I’ve driven in 2015. Give it an all-wheel drive option for Canada’s ornery winters, and this is every bit as good as its much-higher-priced competitors.

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FACT FILE
2015 Kia K900
Trim level: V8 Elite
Price as tested (before taxes): $70,195
Options on test vehicle: Colour charge ($200)
Freight/PDI: $1,495
Configuration: front-engine/ rear-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 5.0L V8 / eight-speed automatic
Power/torque: 420 hp/ 376 lb-ft
Fuel (capacity): Premium (75L)
Fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): 15.7 city, 10.3 hwy
Observed fuel economy (L/100 km): 12.8 over 211 km
Warranties: 3 years/ 60,000 km (basic), 5 years/ 100,000 km (powertrain)
Competitors: Audi A8 4.0T, BMW 750Li xDrive, Cadillac XTS, Hyundai Equus, Jaguar XJL Supercharged RWD, Lexus LS 460 LWB, Mercedes-Benz S550 4MATIC LWB

Report Card (out of 10):
Comfort (front): 9 – Fantastic seats, soft-touch surfaces everywhere, sumptuous ride.
Comfort (rear): 10 – A wonderful place to spend your time being driven around.
Fuel Economy: 4 – An excellent return considering it’s a big car housing a big engine.
Equipment level: 8 – Tech isn’t as fancy as Euro competitors, but still lots of stuff.
Handling: 8 – Don’t let the size fool you – this is a fun rear-wheel drive sedan.
Styling: 7 – Handsome, though it’s not quite as much as other large sedans.
Performance: 8 – Really tough to complain about that naturally-aspirated V8.
Price: 8 – Puts other cars in this segment to shame.
Storage: 7 – A lot of this big car’s room goes to the occupants.
Overall: 9 – An excellent sedan in almost every way.

2015 Kia K900 Review

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