by Deiondre van der Merwe
You've probably never heard of Kia's biggest luxury sedan, but that's alright - we're here to tell you all about it. With only 390 sold in the US in 2019, you're not likely to have seen one in the flesh, but the question is, why isn't the K900 on billboards and in golf course parking lots? It's simple, really. Kia's answer to the BMW 7 Series and the Audi A8 doesn't bear a premium luxury badge on its nose, leaving many a purchaser wondering if it's worth taking the chance on. Perhaps when you consider that the Korean magnate shaves in excess of $25,000 off the asking price of established German marques, you might start to consider that the K900 could just be Kia's best-kept secret. With underpinnings shared with the Genesis G90 and a 3.3-liter turbocharged V6 developing 365 horsepower shared with the Kia Stinger, it certainly looks like a good proposition. But it's less upmarket than the Germans, and without a premium badge, the K900 seems lost in limbo.
As a carryover model from 2019, the K900 sees only a few updates for 2020 - considering the 2019 model was a total redesign, it's not such a bad thing. You're still getting all of the latest technology offered by Kiam and then some, with the 2020 model seeing the addition of a highway-assist feature that adjusts the speed you're traveling at in accordance with interstate speed limits. The surround-view monitor has seen a significant upgrade and delivers a more enhanced image, and the K900 now has repositioned badging, too. Silky Silver has been added as an exterior paint option and replaces Lakestone for the new year.
Understated luxury seems to be the exterior design theme for the K900 and the elegant sedan shows no overly conspicuous design characteristics, which works well if you're into minimalism, but will fail to impress you if you're partial to bigger and bolder looks offered by the likes of the 7 Series. Full LED headlights with daytime running lights grace the gentle giant's front end along with a chrome grille and acoustic windshield, while the back end sees LED taillights and a black and chrome muffler. 19-inch wheels are standard, in one design only.
While many a full-size luxury sedan is only offered in long-wheelbase form in the US, the Kia K900 comes across as incredibly short with a wheelbase of 122.2 inches. This translates to a shorter body overall with a 201.6-inch measurement, making it around five inches shorter than the S-Class. Its width is on par with rivals at 75.4 inches, while a height of 58.7 inches is average for the segment. Notably, the K900 weighs more than the 740i, but is at least 100 pounds lighter than the Audi A8. Still, having to lug around 4,662 lbs of weight isn't everyone's idea of a good time.
A simple four-color palette is offered by Kia for the K900 and allows for a good selection of varying hues depending on the taste of the purchaser. There's one color that really does the Korean justice and that's the Panthera Metal paint option, so we'd recommend opting for that satiny hue when purchasing yours. Other eye-catching colors include Snow White Pearl and the darker Aurora Black Pearl. Kia has also done away with the Lakestone shade of gray and green in favor of Silky Silver for 2020.
Kia took the twin-turbo 3.3-liter V6 from the K900's more attractive sibling, the Stinger GT, and made it the driving force behind the large luxury sedan. It delivers power expertly to a standard all-wheel-drive system that has the ability to direct the majority of its power to the rear wheels. Its also one of the few luxury sedans to offer an AWD system as standard, with the 7 Series, S-Class, and Lexus LS all offering rear-wheel-drive alternatives. A strong turbocharged engine and AWD bucks the notion of Kia producing slow family commuters, with 0-60 mph brought up in five seconds in real-world testing. Rivals may do it quicker, but this is a luxury sedan, not a hot-hatch, so a five-second run is good enough for us, and the buttery ride more than makes up for a perceived lack of pace down the drag strip.
Once upon a time, the K900 employed a naturally aspirated V8 to get the job done, but Kia recently swapped the big boy out for a smaller turbocharged V6, and it hasn't disappointed us yet. Only one engine is available for the large vessel, but it certainly excels. The twin-turbo 3.3-liter V6 produces 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque, adroitly delivering power to all corners via an eight-speed automatic transmission.
When the V6 engine, excellent transmission, and AWD system get together, it's one heck of a party. The Kia K900 is whatever you want it to be. If you're in the mood for comfort and easy acceleration, it'll deliver, and if you're late for that meeting with your private banker, the K900 is happy to oblige with rathe acceleration. Passing slower cars on the highway is effortless for the unexpected powerhouse and acceleration from a standstill is especially pleasurable thanks to all four wheels gripping the tarmac effortlessly.
It's extremely hard to believe that the luxurious K900 came from a thrifty Korean brand that targets those looking for affordability and practicality. The K900 surpasses expectations for ride comfort and pampering, though it's not exactly a real rival of sport-focused luxury sedans. It's clear that Kia still kept practicality in mind when it designed its largest luxury vehicle, it just made sure to clothe the efficiency in some expensive-looking garb. The word "chuckable" isn't front-of-mind when you consider the cornering abilities, but it certainly handles them well enough and maintains high comfort levels in and out of bends. Ultimately, the K900 is at its best when its easily cruising down the highway or floating around town and soaks up humps and bumps with admirable ease. It's an expert at delivering a plush and pillow-like ride throughout most journeys and though it's more than capable of delivering on rapid acceleration, it's not an overly-enthusiastic driver's car. The K900 should be your sedan of choice if you're looking for fantastic comfort and capable power on a budget.
One of the K900's few downfalls is its fuel economy, it falls behind almost every one of its rivals. Kia's flagship sedan has EPA estimates of 18/25/21 mpg city/highway/combined and fights a losing battle against the AWD Mercedes S-Class' estimates of 18/28/22 mpg; the nail in the K900's coffin is further hammered in by the BMW 7 Series' 20/28/23 mpg figures. Only the Audi A8 and Genesis G90 match the Kia, but to loosely paraphrase F1 driver, Damon Hill, the only ones who remember you when you don't win are your wife and dog.
The 20.3-gallon fuel tank found in the K900 ensures a mixed driving range of just over 420 miles when full. It's a decent range, but your wallet will hurt just a little more than usual at the pumps as the K900 requires premium unleaded gasoline.
The interior is possibly the most surprising aspect of the K900. When you have a glance at the much lower price tag, you assume there must be some significant cost-cutting somewhere. I'm sure you're right, but you'd be hard-pressed to spot where, at first glance. A luxurious and clean interior greets you as you enter and Kia brought out all of the bells and whistles for its biggest sedan. Space, comfort, and tech are part and parcel for the K900 and the feature list reads as long as the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Standard features include wireless charging and a large head-up display, as well as triple-zone climate control and ambient lighting for a relaxed atmosphere. Scratch about a bit and you'll find some materials that aren't quite as plush and luxurious as you'll find in an S-Class, but then again, you aren't paying S-Class money, which also lessens the blow of the interior not looking as extravagantly designed.
When we think of the K900, the word "space" comes to mind immediately. The five-seater has space for your space and can comfortably haul four adults around over long distances. Legroom in the back is abundant, besting even the S-Class with 36.6 inches, and the rear of the sedan shouldn't be uncomfortable even for those eyeing professional basketball in the near future. If you're the kind of passenger that will be spending a lot of time being driven around, the Kia is equipped with the ability to move the front passenger seat and recline the back seat for a quick nap between meetings. We can't fault the K900 on its roominess at all, and neither should you.
Only when it's very closely inspected will you find a hint of a cheap bit or two on the inside of the K900. The Kia does an outstanding job of hiding any untoward, less costly materials and high-quality material is used for the wood-like trim and luxurious leather upholstery. It also has wood trim on the steering wheel itself, matching the inserts on the doors, dash, and center console.Three upholstery options are available, including Black Nappa leather, Brown Sienna Nappa, and Beige Nappa, and three different wood trim options come paired to your choice of upholstery: Walnut wood trim is specific to Black Nappa leather, Beige Olive Ash wood trim is specific to Brown Sienna Nappa leather, and Engineered wood trim is exclusively available with Beige Nappa leather upholstery. If you're after practical luxury, opting for the Black Nappa would make sense, but if opulence is your ultimate goal, Brown Sienna Nappa is the winner - but to further complicate matters, your choice of exterior paint can only be paired with specific interior hues, so take your time to decide on your ideal combination.
Though the seating and interior space in the K900 is abundant, the same cannot be said for the trunk space. With 15.3 cubic feet of real estate to work with, it's not totally abysmal; it boasts more trunk capacity than the S-Class, but is quite a bit smaller than the 7 Series' maximum capacity and to make matters worse, the K900's rear seats are not foldable. There is a rear passthrough though, in case you need to grab something from the trunk in a hurry or load a long, slender item. The trunk may not be a cargo supernova, but you'll still be able to fit a set of golf clubs and an overnight bag within its confines. A win for the K900 is its ample space for small items, with center consoles in the front and the back and substantial door pockets make an appearance throughout. Cupholders can be found in the front, as well as in the fold-down center armrest in the rear, which also houses a storage bin.
Kia pulled out all the stops for the K900 and basically threw every feature it's ever offered directly at the luxury sedan and then added some more. Starting from the outside, you'll get a tilt-and-slide sunroof, full LED lights in the front and the rear, and a power trunk lid. When you climb inside, you're greeted with a 20-way power-adjustable driver's seat, heated and ventilated front seats and heated rear seats with multi-way adjustable functionality and optional ventilation for ultimate comfort. Tri-zone climate control, 64-color ambient lighting, wireless charging for your smartphone, and a power-adjustable steering wheel are also added to the list. A heated, haptic steering wheel is also a standard feature on the Kia, as well as keyless entry, push-button start, and cruise control. The K900 comes loaded with driver-assist features including park distance control, high beam assist, blind-spot monitoring, forward-collision warning and avoidance, as well as rear-cross traffic alert, highway driving assist, and lane keep assist.
Another merit for the K900 is a comprehensively-equipped infotainment suite as standard, which should satiate technophiles' needs with ease. A 12.3-inch touchscreen display is the central hub of the Kia's intuitive tech system and boasts full smartphone integration through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with built-in Bluetooth, wireless Wi-Fi hotspot, HD Radio, and SiriusXM functionality, as well as navigation. It can also be controlled by the rear console, while sound clarity is ensured by the 17-speaker Lexicon sound system with surround sound and 900 watts of punch. Wireless device charging is standard up front, while in the rear it's part of the optional VIP package, which also includes a 12.3-inch digital instrumentation cluster.
The K900 might be relatively new for Kia, but reliability isn't. The Korean giant has built its reputation upon dependability and cars that last, so it's unsurprising that the 2020 K900 has suffered no recalls as yet, and no recalls were reported for 2019, either.
Kia further emphasizes their reliability-focused approach by offering a fantastic, class-leading ten-year/100,000 mile limited powertrain warranty, along with a five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty, a five-year/100,000 mile limited anti-perforation warranty, and 24-hour roadside assistance for five years/60,000 miles, should you encounter any issues.
Though we can sing the K900's praises based on its array of safety features, the IIHS and NHTSA haven't performed any crash tests on it. This is quite common for large luxury sedans, and it's quite obvious why. We can understand the reluctance behind cooking Kia's nearly $60,000 goose, but with a number of features shared between the K900 and the Genesis G90, we'd like to assume the Kia will perform as admirably as its 2019 Top Safety Pick+ winning relative.
The Korean luxury sedan boasts a seemingly boundless list of safety features and it's clear that Kia left no stone unturned when they were bolstering the K900's abilities to keep its driver and passengers out of harm's way. A total of nine airbags grace the car from front to back, including dual-front, front side, rear-seat side, and side curtain airbags, as well as a driver's knee airbag. A long list of driver-assist features include everything you'd want from your car, and the only thing it can't do is predict the future. Driver-assist features under the Drive Wise umbrella include traditional features like park distance control, blind-spot monitoring and avoidance assist, forward collision warning and assist, as well as a rear cross-traffic alert and a rear collision avoidance system. Added to the list are lane-keep, departure and following assist, and driver attention warning will alert you if it believes you're feeling sleepy.
The Kia K900 is full of charm and elegance that you wouldn't expect from Kia, and that's probably why it's only sold in the hundreds. Its clandestine existence seems to make it even more appealing because not many people have their hands on them, making it a unique, luxurious and affordable buy - not something commonly found in the US car market where full-size luxury sedans easily broach the six-figure mark. The Kia isn't perfect by any means: it has below-average fuel economy and some might interpret its modest exterior and interior design as bland. It also lacks the same sense of occasion as the established elite. But with only a few negatives against a whole lot of positives, the K900 represents supreme luxury on a fairly tight budget. Kia really took its time designing the K900 and it shows, through little things like the addition of the old-school Maurice Lacroix timepiece under the infotainment display. The Korean barge is much like that song on your playlist that you always skip, until one day you have a listen and you realize it's actually darn good.
Only available in one trim, the Kia K900 has an MSRP of $59,900 without any added extras and excluding the $995 destination fee. A fully loaded K900 that dons every available package on offer by Kia will cost you $65,570 which is still less than a base-level BMW 740i xDrive by just over $24,000 and nearly $30,000 less than the base-level S-Class.
Kia kept it simple and only made the K900 available in one trim, though four additional options are available. The K900 Luxury comes equipped with a twin-turbo 3.3-liter V6 engine and all-wheel drive. On the exterior side of things, you'll find a set of 19-inch wheels, full LED headlights and taillights, as well as a tilt-and-slide sunroof and power trunk lid. The interior sees standard features inclusive of Nappa leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats with a front seat that is 20-way power-adjustable. A leather-clad steering wheel provides heating and haptic feedback, while keyless entry and push-button start are added to the list of standard conveniences. A 12.3-inch touchscreen allows for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a 17-speaker sound system blasts your favorite songs perfectly.
Driver-assist features also include park distance control, forward collision warning and assist, blind-spot monitoring and avoidance assist and rear-cross traffic alert as well as lane-keep-assist, lane-departure warning and lane following assist.
3.3-liter Twin-Turbo V6 Gas
Only four additional options are available for the one-man show that is the Kia K900. This is mainly due to the fact that the K900 comes loaded with so many standard features that it's quite difficult to think of anything else to add on and charge extra for. The most expensive one on offer would be the VIP Package that comes at an extra cost of $4,400 and adds a wireless phone charging pad to the rear, a front-passenger chauffeur switch, ventilated rear seats and rear seats with up to 14-way adjustment. You can also opt for the Paint Protection Package at $275 and add bumper applique for $120, while wheel locks cost $60.
Given that only one trim level is available, the answer is simple, though we do have some recommendations on how to configure your K900. The Panthera Metal lick of paint should complement your luxury sedan perfectly and opt for the Beige Nappa upholstery for an extra touch of luxury. Adding the VIP Package won't break the bank and it'll add some essential features based on passenger comfort. Once you've added the above, you may as well go ahead and add paint protection to the lot for an additional $275 and drive your fully-loaded luxury sedan off the showroom floor for a total of $65,570.
The Kia Cadenza employs a 3.3-liter V6 engine that lacks the K900's twin-turbocharged power and also doesn't offer any all-wheel-drive capability. It does, however, keep an extra $15,800 in your pocket in comparison to its larger, more luxurious counterpart. The Cadenza is more economical due to its lighter frame and has EPA estimates of 20/28/23 mpg. It must be said, however, that the Cadenza is slightly smaller and offers less trunk space, and it's also not in the same league as the K900 in terms of luxury, but offers a similar range of standard features. If your primary concern is your budget and you are willing to sacrifice on luxury, comfort and quite a lot of power, go for the Cadenza. But, if you are after opulence, lushness and more performance, the K900 is the superior choice.
A close relative of the K900, the G90 boasts the same twin-turbo V6 as the K900 and both luxury vehicles share the same output of 365 hp and 376 lb-ft. The pair are also quite similar in size, though the G90 is slightly larger and has a longer wheelbase. It also offers more interior space and a larger trunk, but the bigger size also comes with a greater price, and the AWD G90 costs nearly $15,000 more than its cousin. It varies from person to person, but we think the K900's interior is better than that of the G90's, the Kia manages to blend old-school charm with modern tech perfectly. There's also the fact that the Kia offers a better fuel economy, but the G90 is much stronger than the K900 in its stunning exterior design and better handling.
The G90 is the one to buy if you're ready to loosen the purse strings for some added exterior sass and a better driver's experience, but the K900 reigns superior with its interior and affordable price tag if you're after a well-rounded large luxury sedan.