2015 Kia K900

The K900 sedan is Kia's first foray into the luxury segment. Though it can't match the cachet or the refinement of more established rivals, the K900 does offer up full-size space for mid-size money, a dizzying array of comfort and technology features, and an excellent overall value proposition.

Recent Changes
The K900 is all-new for the latest model year.

Overview
Kia is moving up in the world, leaving its humble beginnings in the rearview mirror with increasingly stylish, well-equipped and all-around competent models. The latest example of the Korean automaker's progress is the K900, a full-size luxury sedan designed to compete with prestigious rides such as the Lexus LS 460, BMW 7-Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

Though its handsome, understated lines may bring to mind the brand's smaller front-wheel-drive Cadenza sedan, the K900 rides on a rear-wheel-drive platform borrowed from Kia sister company Hyundai's range-topping Equus sedan. Many of the Equus' other components are also shared with the K900, yet the Kia manages to possess its own distinct look and feel, especially inside.

Almost Germanic in its simple elegance, the K900's cabin is adorned with first-rate materials, including fine leather and aluminum trim. Upper-level models take things up another notch with Nappa leather and genuine wood embellishments, but all K900s come standard with a plethora of luxury goodies, with highlights including heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a navigation system with an enormous 9.2-inch screen, and a 17-speaker Lexicon 7.1 audio system.

Technology features also include an impressive optional 12.3-inch reconfigurable digital instrument panel, an around-view camera system that provides a 360-degree view of the surrounding environment for parking maneuvers, and adaptive cruise control. There's also Kia's UVO eServices infotainment system, which provides Bluetooth-based smartphone integration, streaming audio capability and voice command functionality for everything from placing calls to changing radio stations. Additionally, it includes vehicle diagnostics info and maintenance reminders, and lets users send Point of Interest info from Google Maps searches on their smartphone to the K900's nav system.

Passenger space is ample, especially for those in the rear seat, and things can get even more comfortable by springing for the VIP Package. In addition to a host of other extras, the VIP Package brings reclining rear outboard seats (thrones?) with power lumbar support and lateral headrest adjustability along with heating and ventilation.

Power and Handling
Unlike its Equus platform-mate, the K900 can be had with an entry-level V6 in addition to a powerful V8.

The 3.8-liter V6 produces 311 horsepower and 293 lb-ft of torque - respectable numbers, albeit insufficient to move the big sedan around with authority. Those seeking the full luxury car experience can step up to the 5.0-liter V8, which cranks out a more appropriate 420 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque.

Both engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission that sends power to the rear wheels. Unlike with most rivals, winter-conquering all-wheel-drive is not an option. The gearbox lets the driver tailor shifting to his or her preferences with Eco, Normal and Sport modes that also adjust the electric steering system's sensitivity.

The K900 V6 is rated at 18 city/27 highway mpg, while the V8 version returns 15/23 mpg.

The K900 is in its element on the open highway, where, despite lacking the Equus' adaptive air suspension, it soaks up bumps and provides a velvety-smooth ride. On curvy backroads, ample body roll and soft responses show that the sedan is much more of a cruiser than a corner-carver.

Trim Level Breakdown
Kia offers the K900 in V6 and V8 trim levels. As their names suggest, they're differentiated by cylinder count in addition to feature content.

The K900 V6 is fitted as standard with leather upholstery, heated, ventilated and power-adjustable front seats, heated rear seats, a navigation system with a 9.2-inch display screen, a 17-speaker, 900-watt AM/FM/CD Lexicon Logic7 sound system with AUX and USB inputs, UVO with eServices, Bluetooth connectivity, tri-zone automatic climate control, a proximity key, a power rear sunshade, manual rear side window sunshades, a power-opening and closing trunk, a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, aluminum trim accents, adaptive HID headlights, LED foglights, LED taillights and 18-inch alloy wheels.

The K900 V8 adds premium Nappa leather upholstery, genuine wood trim, a heated steering wheel, a panoramic sunroof, a blind spot detection system, rear cross traffic alert, a lane departure warning system, LED headlights and 19-inch alloy wheels.

Many of the V8's extras can be added to the V6 at an extra cost.

The V8 can be spec'd with an optional VIP Package that brings a 12.3-inch reconfigurable TFT LCD instrument panel, reclining outboard rear seats with power lumbar support, lateral headrest adjustability and ventilation, a head-up display, a 16-way power-adjustable driver's seat, an around-view camera system that provides a 360-degree view of the surrounding environment for parking maneuvers, and adaptive cruise control.

Also available is an Advanced Vehicle Safety Management system (detailed below).

Occupant Safety
All K900 models include dual front, front side, rear side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems.

Optional on the V6 and standard on the V8 are a blind spot detection system, a rear cross traffic alert system that warns the driver of approaching traffic in backup situations, and a lane departure warning system that provides an alert should the K900 begin to meander into an adjacent lane.

An optional Advanced Vehicle Safety Management system warns the driver to potential frontal collisions and pre-pressurizes the braking system.

Key Competitors
The K900 is sized to compete with large luxury sedans like the Audi A8, BMW 7-Series, Jaguar XJ and Mercedes-Benz S-Class, yet it's priced similarly to mid-sizers such as the Lexus GS, Audi A6, BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Both groups of cars can be cross shopped against the Kia, as can its Hyundai Equus sibling.