Put any owner of a luxury sedan – new or used – behind the wheel of a Kia K900 and he or she is likely to say, “Wow, this is nice. It’s a Kia?”
At least that’s what EVERY passenger said in my week of driving the $66,400 K900 V-8 VIP model.
For those unfamiliar with Kia vehicles, the large-class K900 will be a remarkable surprise. But so is just about every model in this Korean brand’s current lineup.
With parent company Hyundai Motor Co., both automotive brands have become benchmark targets for quality, innovation and long warranties. Kia’s new K900 is a platform partner with the Hyundai Genesis sedan, but the Kia is 4.1 inches longer on a wheelbase that is 1.4 inches longer. The length went toward more back-seat legroom and more trunk space. The K900 also gets edgier styling, and, perhaps, a more tech-infused attitude.
Sizewise, it compares to the Audi A8, BMW 7-Series, Lexus LS and Mercedes-Benz S-Class, even the Hyundai Equus.
The plan is to offer V-6 and V-8 powertrains, both with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The 420-horsepower V8 is on sale now. Launch date for the V-6, with 311-hp, 3.8-liter direct-injection V6, is TBD.
Pricing for the V8 starts at $60,400, including the $900 freight charge from Korea. There is one big factory option package ($6,000), which creates the VIP model, today’s test car, totaling $66,400. Pricing includes free scheduled maintenance for three-years or 37,500 miles.
The VIP V8 is a rich ride with a lush and substantial feel on the road. It is as quiet as a Lexus and as comfortably smooth as the best Audi. But at times the suspension feels too soft and uncertain in cornering.
The direct-injection 5.0-liter is motivating a full-bodied 4,555 pounds, which tempers a jack-rabbit launch. But acceleration can be brisk from 50 mph and upward. The engine’s 376 foot-pounds of torque peaks at a high 5,000 rpm, which may be intended to help fuel economy. Mileage for this luxury cruiser is 15 mpg city, 23 highway and 18 mpg combined. I was getting between 20.3 and 20.8 in combined driving.
There are driver-selectable modes for Eco (frustratingly reserved) and Sport, which can be a little nervous in its responses, but even Normal is tepid.
The steering wheel glides through the fingertips, yet provides steady – linear – response. The automatic transmission keeps the engine in the power band, but an urgent demand for a big double-downshift for passing power takes a breath to crack the whip. A more absolute response is always welcome in times of need.
With a wheelbase of 119.9 inches, the K900 has the longest reach of any sedan in its segment. Yet it has the smallest turning circle at 33.9 inches, which compares to 40 feet for most in the segment. Front headroom of 40.2 inches (with the standard panoramic sunroof) and legroom of 45.9 inches are unmatched by others, but the front seat bottom is short and tall drivers will want more thigh support (the VIP package includes a front seat-bottom extender). Rear legroom of 38.2 inches has VIP status. Trunk space of 15.9 cubic feet is broad and uncompromised, and the seatback folds.