This is our third look at the 2015 Kia K900 V-8—fourth if you count the brief exposure we had while experiencing Kia’s free-meal promotion program—which makes this a follow-up to the one-day K900 first drive and another K900 evaluation that left us so impressed.
And looking forward to spending more time in the K900 for a closer look.
We’re not the only ones. Whether at a gas station, church parking lot, or out in front of the deli, people just wanted to take a closer look. We wondered what the response would be. After all, not too long ago Kia was a frequent simile for “cheap car.” And perhaps some people checking out the K900 were just being polite, but the overall reaction was positively positive.
In general, however, we were talking with people who couldn’t afford a Kia K900, and the cynic would suggest that the whole purpose of bringing the car to the North American market was a brand enhancing halo, making those who do buy Kias feel better about their selection. No more Mr. Cheapcar.
That said, the car still should be evaluated on its merits, and our perception during our weeklong was overwhelmingly positive. The design is still reminiscent of a Jaguar sedan, and people said so, but they also said they liked it. More likely it’s Kia reading out of the same hymnal, and anyway, how else would you adapt the Kia grille to a big luxury car.
And big it is and feels it. The interior is pleasantly roomy. Our backseat riders liked the ability to stretch out, even the plus six footer in the back seat. Our test K900 was equipped with reclining rear seats—think airline seats, though without offending anyone in the row behind you, mainly because there isn’t another row. Oddly enough and even although the front seats are heated and cooled, the reclining rear seats in our car weren’t even heated, much less cooled. Our passengers would have traded the reclining seats for heat, although if they were tired and if it were California, that opinion might change.
The 2015 K900 V-8 comes standard with a power rear window shade. That’s not uncommon in a luxury sedan, but Kia gives the backseat passengers control of it. We see that as a point of contention between juvenile passengers, but that’s one of the many challenges of parenthood. Al least outboard passengers can manually raise and lower screens on the side windows. Woe betides the middle seat passenger should those on the left and right disagree whether to sit upright or recline. Just don’t be that .3 child in the classic 2.3-child family.
Seating up front is luxurious—it is a luxury car—and supportive though soft enough for a full day of driving.
We liked the controls overall, the full-color head-up display in particular, and especially when using navigation for the easily readable details. It’s the best and most complete we’ve seen.
What we found annoying when using the navigation system on urban freeways was the voice alerts announcing at every on-ramp “merge ahead.” When there’s an entrance every half or quarter mile, that’s all she seems to talk about. Give it a rest, lady.
Otherwise the clarity of the K900’s multi-information display on the dash made for easy reading, plus the fact that it’s possible to set one map scale without the screen zooming in and out on its own. The audio controls seemed more complicated than necessary, however. We never did get the presets right, particularly when we tried to eliminate the SiriusXM hip-hop channels that had been preset.
Speaking of audio, we were pleased with the sound quality, even if we don’t have the true audiophile’s ears.
The panoramic sunroof pleased our back seat denizens, but can’t Kia put in a stop between opening the shade fully and opening the sunroof?
A quibble is the placement of the cupholders on the center console. Although they’ll hold a soft drink can, they’re too close to fit a pair of fast food cups without interfering with each other. OK, so you’re not supposed to go to a fast food drive-up in a luxury car. You know you will.
The 2015 Kia K900 has drive modes that reset, among other things, the ride via adjustable-damping shock absorbers, and how the transmission shifts. Our complaint is that we found the default mode too soft and floaty on the highway, but while the sport mode tightened up the suspension more to our liking, it also forced the automatic transmission into a lower gear. Cruising with sport suspension in top gear? It can’t be done.
Our first drive of the Kia K900 was all during daylight hours so we couldn’t judge the effectiveness of the LED headlights. Although the four-lens-per-side spider-eyes headlight cluster wowed everyone who saw them, the light output wasn’t greater than the usual Xenon headlamps. Which is still to say they’re very good. And the adaptive headlights—Kia say they sense the road ahead and turn before you get to the curve—did their best to spoil us for fixed headlights.
Our test 2015 Kia K900 had the overhead surround view camera system. It has the usual selection of camera views, but one thing we liked was the view in front of the car when moving forward. It helps make sure there’s nothing—and no one—in front of the car out of view below the hood.
The question remains, however, whether the 2015 Kia K900 V-8 is the equal of a BMW or Audi. For those with logo envy, not yet. It may be hard to explain to the Bimmer owner next door, unless window stickers are compared, especially when the BMW is optioned up as BMWs usually are.
Continued next page: more text, plus specifications and window sticker