You know the luxury world is changing when upstart Korean automaker Kia releases a full-size premium sedan at a major event like the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show. Following in the foot steps of its corporate sibling, the Hyundai Equus, the 2015 Kia K900 is a style-first take on the top-tier four-door automobile template. Not only does the Kia K900 deliver the kind of features and power that one expects from a full-size flagship model, but it also manages to hold the course with the brand's pricing strategy. This makes it somewhat of an outlier in a segment of the market where the word 'value' is rarely spoken.
Let's take a look at 10 things you need to know about the 2015 Kia K900.
01. The 2015 Kia K900 Is Kia's Flagship Sedan
The 2015 Kia K900 assumes an important position in the company's line-up, slotting in directly above the recently introduced Kia Cadenza as the brand's most expensive, and most prestigious model. It's been quite some time since Kia could claim such a prominent position on the American market, and the Kia K900's status as a limited production vehicle should help to lure in price-conscious buyers interested in exclusivity along with style and comfort. The K900 is intended to be the car that helps Kia complete its metamorphosis from purveyor of entry-level fodder to fully-featured automaker.
02. The 2015 Kia K900 Is An All-New Model
The 2015 Kia K900 is a model without precedent in the automaker's showrooms, but one can definitely detect the influence of design chief Peter Shreyer in the vehicle's sheet metal and greenhouse. The Kia K900 continues to bear the brand's signature grille, blown up to plus-size proportions on the sedan's large visage, and in profile there is a family resemblance between the K900 and the also-big Kia Cadenza. Fortunately, the K900's thick styling never crosses over the line from graceful to awkward - this is a full-size sedan that knows how to wear its extra musculature well.
03. The 2015 Kia K900 Borrows From The Equus Playbook
Very few new automobiles are developed in a vacuum, and the 2015 Kia K900 can count a major assist from its cousin, the Hyundai Equus, in providing the platform on which the sedan sits. This is a big plus for the Kia K900, as the Equus has been very well received by both the automotive media and premium sedan fans in general. It would be a mistake, however, to think of the K900 as merely an Equus in disguise, as the two vehicles target different demographics, feature unique suspension tuning, and come wrapped in distinctly-styled packages that are reminiscent of each other but far from identical.
04. The 2015 Kia K900 Offers Two Engine Options
One particular area where the 2015 Kia K900 diverges from its Hyundai stable mate is under the hood. The Kia K900 starts out with a 3.8-liter V-6 as its base engine, an option that simply isn't available with the Equus. This unit is tuned to produce 311 horsepower and 293 lb-ft of torque. Joining the V-6 is Kia's very first eight-cylinder motor, a 5.0-liter unit (shared with the Equus) that churns out 420 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque. luxury sedan purists can rejoice, as each of these motors is set to drive the Kia K900's rear wheels, instead of the front wheels motivated by every other model in the Kia line-up. This ensures a purer, more comfortable driving experience.
05. The 2015 Kia K900 Delivers An Eight-Speed Automatic
The 2015 Kia K900 is a large, and powerful automobile, and so in order to maximize efficiency it has been outfitted with an advanced eight-speed automatic transmission. The Kia K900's eight-speed gearbox is able to squeeze 18-mpg in stop and go driving and 27-mpg on the highway out of the car's entry-level V-6, along with 15-mpg city and 23-mpg highway from its 5.0-liter V-8. While these might not seem like class-leading numbers, they are par for the course for the large luxury sedan segment. They are also achieved without the intrusion of a noisy automatic engine start/stop system.
06. The 2015 Kia K900 Features A Luxury-Laden Cabin
The 2015 Kia K900 isn't just big on the outside - it also boasts a truly massive passenger compartment. This is especially true when examining the rear quarters of the Kia K900, which features huge amounts of legroom, plus the ability for the right-side passenger to fold the front seat forward using a simple button push in order to open up an unfettered view of the road ahead. Additional coddling is available via the K900's VIP Package, which installs a pair of reclining seats out back that also provide heating, cooling, and power lumbar support.
07. The 2015 Kia K900 Comes With A Long List Of Features
It might seem like rear seat riders are favored by the 2015 Kia K900, and with their own heating controls (for both climate and seats) it's a fairly compelling argument. Of course, the Kia K900's driver also benefits from an extensive collection of available luxury items, including Napa leather, a heated steering wheel, three zones of automatic climate control, a panoramic sunroof, a driver's seat with as many as 16 power adjustments, a head-up display, a 12.3-inch LCD screen, and Kia's Driver Information System. The latter can be accessed via either voice commands or a rotary knob attached to the car's center console.
08. The 2015 Kia K900 Is Loaded With Safety Gear
The 2015 Kia K900 doesn't just innovate in terms of power and luxury, but it also provides advanced safety equipment not found on other models in the Kia family. The Kia K900 offers a blind spot monitoring system, the brand's first implementation of rear cross traffic detection, and a lane departure warning system. Also available with the K900 is an Around View camera system that delivers a top-down visual of the area immediately surrounding the car, as well as a radar-guided adaptive cruise control feature that provides stop-and-go functionality. This is, of course, over and above the standard complement of airbags one would expect in a modern car.
09. The 2015 Kia K900 Is Priced With Value In Mind
The 2015 Kia K900 will feature an introductory MSRP of $50,000 when it goes on sale later this year. This is the ask for the V-6 edition of the car: the eight-cylinder model tops out at $65,000 with every option box ticked off on the order sheet. While this might seem like a lot of money to pay for a Kia, given the brand's past reputation as a value-leader, it's actually a very respectable position for the K900 to be in when cross-shopped against other large sedans. Ordering similar features from Lexus, Audi, or even Cadillac is either impossible or much more expensive than one would pay with the Korean flagship.
10. The 2015 Kia K900 Faces Stiff Competition
The 2015 Kia K900 might be priced right, but it’s facing an uphill battle in terms of customer acceptance - a battle that's made all the more difficult by the quality of the competitors its up against. The Kia K900 squares off directly against the Audi A8, the Lexus LS, and of course the Hyundai Equus. To some extent, the Cadillac XTS vSport is in the mix, too. Perhaps the car's best chance of success will be to lure Lexus customers into its clutches, as there is very little that the pricier LS can do that the Kia can't match. In the luxury world, branding is everything, and Kia will have to work hard to stamp its name on the minds of premium sedan shoppers over the course of the next few years.