2017 Kia K900 Review

K900

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2017 Kia K900 Overview

Now in its third year of production, the Kia K900 full-size luxury sedan represents the automaker's attempt to run with the big dogs. No longer content to put out only compact cars like the popular Soul or classy midsize sedans like the Optima, Kia decided it was time to reach for the stars—and the wallets of the well-heeled—with the K900, positioned as a competitor to such high-end sedans as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Audi A8, and BMW 7 Series. These German automakers have been building their brands and refining their luxury cars for more than a century, so it's been a tough uphill climb for Kia. Sales of the K900 were sluggish for the first few years but have since rebounded, thanks in part to price cuts, a new V6 engine, and a celebrity endorsement by Lebron James. Rumors swirl of a possible upcoming redesign, but for now, Kia continues to tweak the current K900 as it seeks to find the sweet spot for discriminating buyers.

The K900 receives some new standard safety equipment for 2017, including blind-spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert for all trims and lane-departure warning for the high-end Luxury V8 trim. They join a long list of upscale features that roll over from the previous year, like leather upholstery, navigation, 3-zone climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, and heated rear seats. The lack of any other new additions this year hints at some possible big changes coming up, but for now, the automaker has decided to give this luxury sedan some time to establish itself.

Kia continues to offer the K900 in three trims with a choice of two engines. A 5.0-liter V8 engine, the K900's original engine when it debuted in 2015, powers the top-of-the-line Luxury V8 trim. The V8 pumps out a substantial 420 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque, which peaks at 5,000 rpm, and is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Fuel-economy figures stand at 15 mpg city, 23 highway, and 18 combined. In an effort to shave some dollars off the K900's sticker price and increase its appeal, Kia introduced a 3.8-liter V6 engine for the 2016 model that carries over to 2017. Powering the base Premium V6 and mid-level Luxury V6 trims, it pumps out a still-respectable 311 hp and 293 lb-ft and links to the same automatic transmission as the V8. Expect slightly better fuel-economy numbers of 17, 25, and 20.

While both K900 engines (especially the V8) provide plenty of power, they don't quite match the output of some of their rivals. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class, for instance, comes equipped with either a twin-turbo V8 good for 449 hp or an optional V12. BMW also offers a 445-hp twin-turbo V8 for its 7 Series. Obviously, these sedans are a step above the K900, which most closely matches the 2017 Hyundai Genesis G90 in performance. In fact, the K900's Tau V8 was developed by Hyundai, and it continues to be an option for the Genesis G90 (previously the Equus)—in the G90, it delivers 420 hp, the same as the K900, and 383 lb-ft, which is slightly more than the K900. However, the V8-powered K900 costs about $8,000 less than the V8-powered G90.

Similarly, the K900 rides on a platform borrowed from the G90, although the K900 has a shorter overall length (200.6 inches versus the G90’s 204.9) and wheelbase (119.9 versus 124.4 inches), which helps with maneuverability. In fact, the K900's dimensions more closely match those of the new V6-powered Genesis G80, which debuts in 2017. The K900's independent multilink suspension with stabilizer bars at the front and rear and a high-performance damping system delivers a smooth, confident ride. It can feel heavy on cornering at times, however, with moderate body lean, and some reviewers would like to see better feedback from the electro-hydraulic steering system. Overall, the K900’s ride meets expectations but lacks the agility of some other, more expensive vehicles in the class.

The K900’s eye-catching exterior design displays a certain amount of heft and maturity—it doesn't attempt to appear windswept or sporty, aiming instead for a more conservative look. And while it's not a ground-breaking design, it's certainly unique to Kia. The rounded nose flows organically into the hood and makes good use of the grille, which some reviewers find more appealing than the G90’s. Angled high-intensity-discharge (HID) headlights, parallel straight sidelines, dual side vents, power-folding heated mirrors, LED taillights, and integrated chrome tailpipes complete the list of exterior features. The Luxury V8 trim adds LED headlights and an active grille, which opens and closes depending on the speed to improve aerodynamics. V6 trims ride on 18-inch alloy wheels, while the Luxury V8 gets 19-inchers.

The 5-passenger K900 receives its highest marks for its interior design and comfort features, offering a potent blend of roominess, style, and luxury at a price point that's tens of thousands of dollars less than those of its competitors. Its spacious rear seat mimics that of a limousine, and its quiet cabin, classy interior design, and leather upholstery match the best in the class. Passengers will find plenty of legroom and headroom in the front seats, although trunk space comes in on the low side at 15.9 cubic feet. Its rear-wheel-drive (RWD) platform, a first for Kia, lends it some credibility in the luxury car segment—but while the K900 delivers a smooth, confident ride, some critics say its performance and handling are not its strongest points.

The Premium V6 trim comes equipped with such luxury features as leather upholstery, a 12-way power-adjustable driver's seat, an 8-way power-adjustable front-passenger seat, a 9.2-inch display screen with navigation, and a 14-speaker audio system with satellite radio. The Luxury V6 trim adds Nappa leather, a heated wood-trimmed steering wheel, and a 17-speaker Lexicon Surround Sound system, while the Luxury V8 upgrades to a 12.3-inch LCD instrument cluster with the option of quilted Nappa leather upholstery.

The 2017 K900 continues to offer full range of standard safety features, such as full-length side-curtain airbags, hill-start assist, and traction control. The Luxury V8 trim adds a surround-view monitor, while optional safety equipment includes a head-up display, advanced smart cruise control, and autonomous emergency braking.

Overall, Kia packs plenty of features and comfort into the K900, which offers a lot for a starting price of $49,900. The Korean automaker’s biggest hurdle, however, remains convincing upscale buyers to opt for a largely unknown luxury sedan over similar—but more expensive and less well-equipped—vehicles from established automakers.

Updated

Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in California.

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