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2015 Kia K900: First Drive Review

Editor’s note: If you’re looking for information on a newer Kia K900, we’ve published an updated review: 2019 Kia K900 Review.

 

Leave it to Kia to spark a controversy about the true nature of luxury. This may or may not be Kia’s intent with the all-new 2015 Kia K900 luxury sedan, but it sure has us talking.

The basic argument goes like this: Is a luxury car just a collection of high-end features, excellent engineering and stunning design, or do perceptions about the brand add up to real luxury? Whatever you think, the Kia K900 will challenge your notion of luxury.

Gets Luxury Right

The K900 has the luxury essentials exactly right. The car is big, roomy inside but still attractive on the outside. The Kia K900 is more attractive than the Lexus LS460, and under the stretched tight skin is a rear-wheel drive, V8-powered, full-size sedan that can easily run with the best from Japan and Europe.

The K900 is available with a V6 engine, but it’s the V8 we sampled. The V8 makes 420 hp and is Lexus-smooth. Thanks to an 8-speed automatic transmission, there’s always plenty of power on tap, and passing is effortless.

Kia also gets many of the details right inside. There’s real wood trim, gloss black accents, a 16-way power driver’s seat (as part of the VIP Package) and an amazing 17-speaker Lexicon audio system that sounds so lifelike you’ll swear you’re sitting in the recording studio. Lexicon is the same brand of audio system used in Rolls-Royce cars. See the 2015 Kia K900 models for sale near you

Luxury Labels

So, the K900 is impressive on paper. It has the features and options you’d expect from a true luxury car. But is that enough?

Let’s say the K900 looks, drives and feels every bit as good as a BMW 7 Series. Does the fact that the 7 Series is a BMW give it any extra credibility?

We say no. The very fact that a certain car has a well-known label on the hood isn’t enough to matter. The car has to be tangibly better than other large luxury cars to make it truly desirable.

But Kia, along with Mercedes-Benz and BMW, isn’t dumb. They know their audience.

We’ve seen first-hand how brands such as Honda, Kia, Lexus, Mazda, Chevrolet and Toyota go out of their way to put cars and info in the hands of consumer-focused publications like AutoTrader. German luxury brands, not so much. Keep a careful eye out and you’ll notice a lot of BMWs and Benzes in enthusiast magazines. That’s not an accident.

It’s Just That Good

Thankfully, Kia didn’t get lost in the big picture. The company isn’t trying to force a philosophical debate and then convince us they have a good car. Instead, Kia simply built a spectacular sedan with all the features, quality materials, engineering and stellar design you’d expect in a $90,000 car. The debate just naturally follows.

You’d expect all this in a $90,000 luxury sedan, only Kia won’t let you pay that much. A base V8-powered K900 is $60,400. If you really want to see your CEO neighbor’s face turn red, opt for the $6,000 VIP Package that includes heated, cooled and reclining rear seats with lumbar adjustment, color head-up display, soft-close power rear doors, 12.3-inch display screen/gauge cluster, adaptive cruise control and a 360-degree-view parking monitor.

Total price is just over $66,000.

But even the standard V8 K900 comes nicely equipped with such features as adaptive LED headlights, as well as LED taillights, a power trunk, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats all covered in soft Nappa leather, a leather wrapped dashboard, a 17-speaker, 900-watt Lexicon sound system, front and rear parking cameras, a heated steering wheel, panoramic sunroof, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and lane-departure warning.

Ride and Handling

On the road, the K900 feels every bit like a full-size luxury sedan. It’s solid, quiet, powerful, comfortable and soaks up bumps the way Bounty paper towels soak up kitchen spills.

Handling is decent, but this is where a car like the Audi A8 outclasses the big Kia. The Audi perfectly balances a comfortable ride with entertaining athleticism, and the Kia K900 does too. However, the Kia runs a little more on the comfort side of the equation. It’s the right choice — Kia even describes the K900 as exhibiting "relaxed" luxury. Think jeans and a sport coat rather than a tuxedo.

By comparison, the K900 is right in the middle of the pack when it comes to better-known large luxury sedans. We like the K900’s look and handling better than the Lexus LS460. It also strikes a better ride/handling balance than the BMW 7 Series. The BMW feels jumpy and almost too sharp by comparison. Plus, the average shopper would be shocked at what kind of features a $75,000 BMW sedan doesn’t offer as standard equipment.

But compare the Kia K900 to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and the comparison kind of falls apart. The recently updated S-Class feels like a cut or two above the Lexus LS, BMW 7 Series and the Kia K900. The S-Class now feels more like a Bentley competitor than a BMW rival.

For example, while the Kia has the luxury of heated and cooled front and rear seats, the Benz adds the opulence of heated door panels and armrests. The S550’s V8 also makes more power than the Kia’s V8.

Plus, there are a few buttons and switches inside the Kia that feel like they belong in a less expensive car.

Also, we like the K900’s console-mounted control knob for nav and auto functions, but we wish the screen was also a touchscreen like in the Kia Cadenza.

Then again, the S550 costs about $27,000 more than the V8-powered Kia K900.

But that may be missing the point. Doesn’t the real victory belong to Kia? The fact that this is even a real discussion is such a coup for Kia, it almost doesn’t matter which car has the softer leather.

Truth is, the Kia K900 is more than just in the hunt — it’s shockingly good. Philosophical discussions of luxury aside, the 2015 Kia K900 gets luxury right in a big way. If you’re in the market for a large Acura, Audi, BMW or Lexus, you have to give the Kia K900 a test drive. Find a Kia K900 for sale

 
Brian Moody
Brian Moody is an author specializing in transportation, automotive, electric cars, future vehicles as well as new, used, and certified pre-owned advice. He also specializes in liking ridiculous cars like the Buick Reatta, Studebaker Lark, and the GM A-Body wagons from the late 80s and mid-90s. Why? You'd have to ask him. Brian graduated from Cal State Long Beach and has been creating written... Read More

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Born in Europe its almost normal I only had German and ( few French car) in a last 23 plus years. After crossed ( fly ) over to US,  was normal I want only American car …. Hade one Chrysler300 love, love the Hemi, but that’s it , after I returned to my 7 series ( hade about 10 )  , and keep my Benz GL450. 

    Then this May I was looking to buy something different .. Then I meet my K900…. I’m not sure it was love in a 1st time or I’m just had a painful headache paying $100k for my new German lover… Not sure.. But I both my first non -German..
    And let me tell you ..o boy o boy.. We having or at list me, having a gr8 time, with this Just a Kia, After you push the start button , you no longer know what kind of car you driving, is just simple huge you, give you a joy of driving. And that’s the only thinks matter. This Korean car, give you all the lux and futures, then any ” old ” luxury car maker, with decad of experience vs just we made this… First it is toooo quite , really no joke. You have to believe when I telling you it’s like on electric car at the stop lights. I’m over 12k miles all ready, with out any problem or spend $1 dollar on anything , only gas … Yes mpg not the best it’s around 18 in city, but we’ll maybe the next generation … And yes 420hp sometimes make that tires spin here and there … Till learn how to handle This beautiful car. I think even we talk about competing Kia to a big guys, that alone give winning to a K900! All around I can’t wait what will be the next generation K900 will bring to us, but I’m sure there will be much more surprise coming ,
    Ps : dear Kia pls make this car all wheel drive :)! ps2 : I’m sorry my old lover BMW but I fund my new love … K900..
    Oh almost forget ….Honey we have $40k extra to spend this year …. Thx Kia :)! 
  2. we bought the Kia K900 and have just taken it on our first out of town trip. The last foreign car i drove was an old Austin Healy in the 60’s. It was a beast but i loved it.
    The minute i saw this K900, I loved the look and feel and had to have it. Kia has a good record for dependability in their line and i don’t doubt this car will last as long as i want to drive it. The sound is as good as anything i’ve heard. The handling is smooth without a loss of power. The customer service is unbeliable. Couldn’t be happier.

  3. My thing is that if this car is geared for people who drive Benz, BMW, Lexus and Audi to name a few, if the price is 27k less than a Benz…most are gonna buy a Benz. There’s more old Mercedes on the road than there are old kias. After that 100k mile warranty is up…my experience with kia has been that they fly apart like a dollar watch. Hyundai is right behind them with the Eqqis. Tried it! The controls felt cheap and like they just tried to cram everything gadget and tech possible…but the ride was not anything like how I would expecta luxury car to perform. My opinion…I know there are people out who love them…but I am just not a follower. I have had 3 MercedesBenz and have been impressed time and time Again. Even with older models. If I’m gonna spend over 65k, I want quality that will last, not just a great write up in the magazine. I would like to hear consumer reports a year from now..just to make my decision. And I plan on going for the K900 test myself.

    • I’m very curious to know the details surrounding you “trying the Eqqis”. You don’t even know how to spell the name of the Equus correctly, leading me to believe you never seriously considered it.

  4. I always like to read reviews from people who have actually driven a new car, and not be swayed by preconceived notions. Good honest article.

  5. Thank you for one of the best early reviews of the Kia K900. This appears to be a great car that is far more in tune with American driving needs than the German cars and the Jaguar. We potential buyers need high road noise isolation, a comfortable ride, and room. Nothing now on the market touches this car for comfort per dollar. We have a new Mercedes E550 4Matic sedan. Unlike the Kia, we spent many thousands of dollars to get options that the Kia offers as standard equipment. Plus, some of what we wanted we could not get without paying extreme prices for equipment that we did not want. For example, to get a heated steering wheel at added cost, we still would have had to pay over $4,000 more for a small and hard to use navigation system. We consequently have no heated steering wheel during our cold Oregon winters. The Kia is fresh, designed for comfort, and offers either high power or good power with better fuel consumption. Kia will prove to have brought us a winner.

    • Not sure what you’re referring to on the options for the MB. I sell them and Heated steering is a standalone option. And every E-class, especially the E550 would have navigation already on it as part of the P01 package. That system is anything but small and hard to use. I can only assume you mean in a round about way that the already built selection was limited to your description, because if you ordered one you could easily configure it to have what you’re complaining about.

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