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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

First drive: 2015 Kia K900

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For the shopper who appreciates the finer things in life without having to pay through the nose, the K900 makes eminent sense

NEWPORT COAST, CALIF. — When Kia launched the Cadenza, it signalled to the world it was ready to move up-market. At that time, it was considered a bold, even foolish, move. Well, now comes an even bolder move — the full-zoot Kia K900.

While it shares its platform with the Hyundai Equus, it projects a much more muscular appearance and it has considerably more road presence — it’s bejewelled with a whack of LEDs front and rear. Yes, the base car, a term used advisedly, makes do with Xenon HID headlights, however the loaded V8 model brings all-LED headlights — there are eight LEDs arranged into four pods in each lamp. These lights not only respond to steering angle, they also alter the light pattern according to vehicle speed. The beam is wide at slow speeds and longer and narrower at higher ones. It is an impressive technology by any standard. This tidbit sets the tone for the rest of the K900, which is offered in base and premium V6s along with the Elite V8.

The standard technology list is lengthy, especially on the Elite — lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, tire pressure monitoring and active cruise control, standard front and rear cameras with parking sensors. If that is not enough, the Elite has a 360-degree camera system shows a bird’s-eye view around the car. Then there’s Rear Cross Traffic Alert (it is capable of detecting something as small as a shopping cart at 10-metres) and Kia’s Advanced Vehicle Safety Management. If a potential collision is detected, it warns the driver in three stages and by tightening up the front seatbelts. It also pre-pressurizes the brake system, which shortens the stopping distance.

The cabin’s quality, however, is where the K900 Elite truly impresses. The materials are off the top shelf — the testers arrived with Nappa leather trim, a suede headliner and real wood trim. You’ll also find some nice touches like power door pull-ins, power trunk and a power panoramic sunroof. Then there’s the instrumentation. The Elite’s 12.3-inch, full-colour TFT-LCD screen is easy to read, fully configurable and its features a choice of themes — I did not care for the analog tachometer when in the sport theme.

To the right, the infotainment and standard navigation systems are displayed on a 9.2-inch screen. It is accessed through a rotary knob and direct-access buttons — it is one of the more intuitive infotainment systems around. Of course, luxury would not be complete without a suitable sound system. The K900 has a Lexicon audio package with a trunk-mounted 12-channel digital amplifier and no fewer than 17 strategically placed speakers.

As for comfort, the K900 proved to be right up there with its peers. The standard 12-way power driver’s seat and eight-way power passenger seat features three-stage heating and cooling. The upgraded 16-way power driver seat the test car had a power headrest and it allows the driver to increase the length of the base for better thigh support, which improves long distance comfort.

Those seated in the rear need not fret, as they, too, receive the executive treatment. The legroom is vast (credit goes to the 3,045-millimetres wheelbase) with three-stage heated seats and, in the Elite, cooled seats, three-stage power lumbar support, power reclining seats and privacy blinds for the side and rear windows. The rear centre armrest also includes audio and climate controls as well as a USB input and 12-volt outlet.

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The rear-wheel-drive K900 is offered with two engines, both of which are married to an eight-speed manumatic. The Elite model features a shift-by-wire electronic shifter that looks and functions almost as though it was lifted straight out of a BMW. The base engine is a direct-injected 3.8-litre V6 with 311 horsepower and 293 pound-feet of torque. It should be fine, but the up-level engine is the far better choice. The 5.0L V8 puts a potent 420 hp and 376 lb.-ft. of torque at the driver’s disposal. On the drive route, the V8 delivered impressive hustle over a broad range. The off-the-line pop was impressive and the mid-range was strong. The proof came in the 0-100 kilometres an hour time — at 6.1 seconds, it is fast. The 80 to 120 km/h passing move took five seconds, which puts it is right there with any of its V8-powered peers.

Kia’s Drive Mode Select allows the K900 to be optimized for different scenarios. A button located on the centre console gives the driver command over three modes: Sport, Normal and Eco. Each mode modifies the engine, transmission and steering feel to provide the desired response. The fourth mode, Snow, has its own button, which allows direct access to it without cycling through the others. Most will pick Normal and live with it day-to-day (Eco is too soft). Sport, however, proved to be my setting of choice on the drive. The steering has better weight and precision, the throttle reacts faster to driver input and each gear is held longer. The nit is the lack of paddle shifters — not too serious given the K’s luxury bias.

Kia is rapidly establishing itself as a proven purveyor of affordable and reliable cars, but is there a market for a high-level luxury car like the K900 in its portfolio? Some (those to whom a badge means everything) will sniff at the thought, however, spend a little time behind the wheel and the K900’s focus comes through with remarkable clarity — the cabin’s execution is its claim to fame and, ultimately, desirability. Heck, it manages to out-posh the German marques in just about every area. It also has as much or more equipment than any of its competitors without requiring a mortgage. For the shopper who appreciates the finer things in life without having to pay through the nose, the K900 makes eminent sense.

The K900 V6 starts at $49,995, the Premium V6 runs $60,995, while the V8 Elite arrives with a sticker of $69,995.

First Drive – Kia K900 V8 Elite 2015

Kia enters the premium sedan arena

NEWPORT BEACH, CA: “I defy you,” the Kia Canada product guy said, “to ride in the back of this car blindfolded and tell me it’s not a Mercedes.”

He was talking about the 2015 Kia K900, the Korean brand’s first foray into the premium luxury sedan segment.

Frankly, such a car would have been unthinkable just a decade ago.

But that was then and this is now and the K900 is ready, willing and able to change minds and perceptions.

And that’s the challenge – taking the Canadian mindset and getting it to bridge the gap between reality and how they view Kia.

That will start with 34 Kia dealers across Canada which will be branded Kia Premium outlets with enhanced levels of customer service to set them apart.

The K900 is the first Kia ever

to be powered by a V8 engine, in this case, the 5.0-litre, quadcam “Tau” used in some Hyundai models, notably the Equus fullsize luxury sedan.

With direct fuel injection, it produces 420 hp and 376 lb/ft

of torque on premium gasoline mated to Kia’s in-house eightspeed automatic transmission powering the rear wheels. Allwheel-drive is not available – yet.

The transmission can be optimized by the driver with four modes – Eco, Normal, Snow and Sport.

The standard engine is the 3.8-litre V6 found in a number of Kia and Hyundai vehicles. It produces 311 hp and 293 lb/ft or torque, and like the V8, with the same eight-speed automatic transmission with four shift modes.

The K900 will come in three trim levels – the K900 V6 ($49,995), the V6 Premium ($60,995) and the V8 Elite ($69,995).

At the press introduction south of LA, we only had V8 Elite models to drive, so I will concentrate on it and follow up later in the year with the V6s.

When it comes to premium luxury sedans, the Elite has full nappa leather and the front seats are heated and cooled. It gets better in the back with standard multi-stage heating for the outboard seats.

By opening a panel inside the centre armrest, rear-seat passengers can control the vehicle’s ventilation system as well as fold the back cushion of the front passenger seat forward with the touch of a button.

Rear passengers have standard power rear window sunshades while retractable rear side window sunshades are standard across all models.

The Elite takes rear seat comfort to another level. Both seats offer multi-stage heating and cooling and have the ability to independently recline and incorporate power lumbar support with lateral headrest adjustability.

An interesting touch is power pull-in doors. Get in, give the door a tug and the door closes itself.

To get the best combination of sporting ride but comfortable handling, Kia opted for a five- link independent suspension front and rear, both of which are mounted on sub-frames.

The K900 introduces Kia’s first Advanced Vehicle Safety Man- agement (AVSM) that integrates a number of safety systems includ- ing Electronic Stability Control (ESC), seatbelt mechanisms and multiple warning systems.

Working together, AVSM can alert the driver to an imminent collision and pre-pressurize the braking system and activate the Pre-Safe Belt (PSB) system based on the anticipated severity of a crash.

The heads-up display is the most instructive I’ve seen show- ing current speed, local speed limits, navigation turn direc- tions, blind spot warning and active cruise and in different co- lours to cut down on confusion.

Lane departure warning with radar-activated Advanced Smart Cruise Control (ASCC) is also included. Not only does the ASCC bring the K900 to a full stop if necessary, but it also automati- cally accelerates if the traffic in front is clear.

Front/rear park assist is stan- dard. It gives an auditory tone when an object is too close and, on the parking display, shows the distance in green, yellow and red.

The V8 comes standard with Kia’s first Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) system, which provides an audible warning to the driver if oncoming cross traffic is de- tected from the rear, while the K900 is in Reverse. Working in conjunction with RCTA is Blind Spot Detection (BSD).

The Elite has a new Surround View Monitor system with four discreetly placed wide-angle mini-cameras at the front and rear and within the outside rear view mirrors. The cameras pro- vide a crystal-clear view of any- thing within several feet of the K900, providing potential safety benefits as well as easier maneu- vering in tight spaces.

High intensity headlights are found on both V6 models but the V8 is equipped with LED lights, eight to a side, that have a wide spread of light for urban areas or tight beam for highways. They also move up or down based on the pitch angle of the K900. Not only do they articulate but sen- sor controlled wattage regulates intensity.

The ride, primarily on Califor- nia freeways, was extremely qui- et. The V8 was very, very quick and nimble on lane changes de- spite being a large car.

I spent some time in the back seat reclining the seat, trying the hot and cool ventilation and really digging the 17-speaker audio system.
The navi system was good and bad. Somehow it had my co-driver and I going around in circles trying to find a driver change point. The rest of the time it worked just fine.

On the other hand, when stopped at a traffic light waiting to make a left turn, the navi said our turn was 10 feet ahead – now that is accurate.

Kia likes to compare the K900 to competitors such as Cadillac XTS and Acura RLK. But with its level of technical sophistication, my driving partner and I both agreed, it is comparable to the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and approaches the S-Class.

Forget the cheap and cheerful Kias of 10 years ago.

The K900 truly embodies the brand’s slogan “The Power To Surprise” - again.

Kia K900 named ‘International Car of the Year’

Kia is the defending champion of the International Car of the Year (ICOTY) award organized by Road & Travel Magazine! During the 2015 LA International Auto Show, the Kia K900, known as Quoris in some markets, was honored by Road & Travel Magazine as the most emotionally compelling vehicle for 2015. It is the first time in the award’s history that the same brand was selected for three consecutive years. Previously, we were recognized for our premium sedan, the Cadenza, and our best-selling Optima midsize sedan.

Road & Travel Magazine honors a single annual winner each year after taking into consideration product attributes as well as the auto brand’s marketing effort to connect emotionally with the consumer. “Three years in a row for the same brand is a first for Road & Travel Magazine, and it says a lot about Kia’s growth and its continuous introductions of exceptional new vehicles,” said Courtney Caldwell, editor-in-chief of Road & Travel Magazine.

“To win the prestigious ICOTY award three years running is a clear indication that our products consistently offer a world-class balance of design, amenities, luxury and value for today’s discerning car buyers,” said Michael Sprague, executive vice president of marketing & communications of Kia Motors America. Kia is especially proud of the K900’s big win, for it is the model that perfectly embodies our commitment to repeatedly defying conventional industry thinking. We are thrilled to have our bold moves noticed, and to continue redefining the luxury automobile for every car enthusiast out there.