LOS ANGELES — Kia’s new flagship sedan debuted in the Korean domestic market (KDM, yo!) as the K9 sedan. But during its trip to the 2013 LA Auto Show, the name was changed to the 2015 Kia K900. Maybe it’s because 900 is a bigger number than 9; but I think that it was changed to avoid all of the “Kia’s flagship is a dog” jokes that the brand’s detractors were poised to make.
Kia needn’t worry about any dog jokes coming from Car Tech’s editors, because the K900 is essentially a brand-engineered clone of the Hyundai Equus premium sedan — a vehicle that picked up our Editors’ Choice nod in back in August — so we’re expecting nothing but good things from this rear-drive sedan.
However, the K900 isn’t exactly a badge job. While its wheelbase and chassis dimensions are nearly identical to the Equus, the overall length is a bit shorter. What’s more, the design of the sheetmetal is completely different, stretching the automaker’s Tiger Nose design language over the large sedan’s frame.
Under the hood, the K900 share’s its cousin’s 5.0-liter Tau V-8 engine, which uses direct-injection to wring 420 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque from Premium fuel. (The Equus, interestingly is rated at 429 horses on Premium and 421 horses on Regular gas, so there may be a slightly different tune for the Kia.) That power flows through the same Hyundai 8-speed automatic on its way to the rear wheels.
The K900 is also available in a V-6 configuration, this time packing the 3.8-liter Lambda V-6 that is normally found powering the Hyundai Genesis sedan. Output is stated at 311 horsepower and 293 pound-feet of torque, which also flows through an 8-speed automatic gearbox, but with different ratios than the V-8 model’s.
Fuel economy has yet to be determined by the EPA, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see numbers similar the the Equus’ 15 city, 23 highway, and 18 combined estimates.
The cabin — specifically, the dashboard — is where the the Kia K900 will most separate itself from Hyundai, as the two automakers use completely different infotainment systems.
A trim level called the V-8 VIP will be available, boasting a 12.3-inch TFT digital instrument cluster, which can be reconfigured to different themes. A Technology package for both V-6 and V-8 will also add the automaker’s first implementation of a full-color head-up display for speed, turn-by-turn navigation, and alerts for the safety technologies.
Safety tech will include staples such as blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, Front and rear park-assist sensors and cameras. The V-8 model will come standard with Rear Cross Traffic Alert and opting for the VIP package nets the four-camera Around View Monitor system. Also available are active cruise control and forward collision warning.
The more fun infotainment tech starts with a standard 900-watt Lexicon audio system, which features a trunk-mounted 12-channel digital amplifier and 17 speakers, including a center fill and an inverted subwoofer designed to minimize the loss of trunk space. Users control the audio system through the standard Kia UVO eServices infotainment system, which puts Bluetooth hands-free calling, HD Radio, satellite radio, 3.5mm analog auxiliary input, and USB sources at the command a new Driver Information System (DIS) controller on the center console. (The 9.2-inch color display, doesn’t seem to be touch sensitive.)
Even the key has been redesigned and is now a slim credit-card style smart-key rather than a lumpy fob.
According to Kia, “the all-new K900 is expected to go on sale during the first quarter of 2014, and pricing will be announced closer to launch.” Stay tuned for more details and be sure to check out the rest of CNET’s coverage of the 2013 LA Auto Show.