I recently drove a K900, which sounds like a robotic dog from the future, but it’s actually a luxury Kia. A very luxury Kia. This particular luxury Kia cost $60,000, which is what some people spend for a Mercedes-Benz or a Lexus. And this is a Kia! The same company that brought you the 2005 Rio, which cost approximately $7,400 brand new, with all applicable incentives.
Admittedly, this isn’t the first luxury Kia I’ve reviewed. A couple of months ago, I filmed a video with the Kia Stinger GT, which is a high-performance Kia sport sedan that also costs something like $55,000. But the Stinger GT appeals to young people who may take a leap on a new car brand. The K900 is a pure luxury car, aimed at people who buy Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and Lincoln; people who haven’t taken a risk since switching from regular Coke to Diet Coke in approximately 1997. This is a much harder market segment to enter.
But Kia is giving it a good shot. The K900 I drove is the "old" model, which is technically still the "current" model, as Kia recently released the new K900 at the New York Auto Show for debut in late 2018. So this is the old K900, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it’s a pretty cool car on paper: There’s a 311-horsepower V6 or, like in the one I drove, a surprisingly burly 420-hp 5.0-liter V8. Yes, that’s right: This is a large luxury sedan with a naturally aspirated V8 and, of course, rear-wheel drive. It’s like a Mercedes-Benz or a BMW.
Or, at least, it could be. I rented the K900 from Turo, which is a company that lets you rent cool and interesting cars from people instead of traditional cars, and I have to admit I wasn’t especially impressed with the driving experience. Yeah, the V8 made it pretty quick, and it felt rock solid stable at high speeds — even in the rain. But it wasn’t anywhere near as comfortable as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class whose size it shares, it didn’t handle as well, the materials weren’t as good and the interior was nowhere near as nice.
Well, you’re thinking, that’s OK; it costs like $40,000 less than an S-Class, so it must be better than an E-Class, which is much closer on price. But it isn’t. Even compared to an E-Class, it wasn’t as nice, it wasn’t as luxurious, it didn’t drive as well. And here’s the thing that really surprised me: it just didn’t have all that much stuff. The one I drove had no 360 camera, and no blind spot monitor. No bi-xenon headlights. No lane-keep assist, no massaging seats. Manual rear sunshades, like a peasant’s vehicle. This car’s whole selling point is "value," compared to the European luxury vehicles, and, well, I just didn’t see the value.
With that said, there is one place where you can’t help but be wowed by the K900, and that’s the warranty: Five years or 60,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage, and 10 years or 100,000 miles of powertrain. Compare that to Mercedes-Benz, which offers just four years or 48,000 miles of total coverage, and you start to understand who the K900 is for: The driver who wants something comfortable, quiet and cheap to own.
And the K900 will be especially cheap to own if you buy it used. Right now on Autotrader, the average asking price for a K900 from 2015, the car’s original model year, is just $26,800. That’s Toyota Camry money for a car that doesn’t quite reach the Mercedes-Benz E-Class in terms of equipment. When you’re comparing it to an E-Class, that’s a bad thing. When you’re comparing it to a Camry, it’s a bargain. And it’s even more of a bargain when you consider Kia’s certified pre-owned warranty, which reinstates that 10 years or 100,000 miles of powertrain coverage that starts on the original sale date.
In other words, consider this: Get a certified pre-owned K900 and you’ll get a 420-hp V8, lots of luxury touches, a smooth, stable ride, a huge back seat and seven years of powertrain warranty … for 26 grand. It’s a steal.
The problem, however, is finding one. While there are, surprisingly, over 200 different 2015 models on Autotrader, the K900 hasn’t exactly been popular. Last year, Kia managed to sell just 455 units in the entire United States, and a mere seven in Canada. For the entire country. For the entire year. The new K900 will likely be a big improvement, and I suspect it’ll see stronger sales than its predecessor — but the old K900 is the better deal. As long as you’re OK with no one having any idea what you’re talking about when you say you have a "K900." Find a Kia K900 for sale
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.