2015 Kia K900: What's It Like to Live With?
We got a 2015 Kia K900 to see if Korea's newest luxury sedan can compete in a crowded segment with the best from Japan, the U.S. and Europe.
What do you want to know about?
- First Impressions
- An Impressive Luxury Car
- Performance Testing
- Fuel Economy Update for August
- Trunk Space
- Road Trip Fuel Economy
- Virtual Instrument Panel
- More Than Enough Back Seat Space
- Hushed Cabin
- Around View Monitor and the VIP Package
- Take a Seat and Relax
- Rocking Out With the Lexicon Sound System
- Fitting Child Safety Seats Won't Be a Problem
- V8 Engine Feels Strong
- Best When Going in a Straight Line
- Unpretentious Luxury
- Electronic Shifter Saves Space, Feels Odd
- Rear Seats Don't Skimp on Features
- Fuel Economy Update for October
- Simple Audio Controls
- Well-Designed Trunk Space
- I Could Get Used to This
- Back Seat Amenities
- Compared to Hyundai Equus
- Smooth Acceleration
- Fuel Economy Update for November
- Big Car, Big Trunk
- Too Much Isolation
- Long-Haul Cruiser
- One Thing I Would Change
- Safety Features
- Front Alert
- Windshield Washer Fluid
- Seat Heaters
- Fuel Economy Update for December
- Riding Low to Oregon
- Climate Control Recirc Button Woes
- Cruise Control Brake Overuse
- Post Road-Trip Service Visit
- Fog and Adaptive Cruise Control
- Lane Departure Annoyance
- Fuel Economy Update for January
- Useful Blind-Spot Indicators in the Head-Up Display
- Using the UVO eServices App
- Summing Up After 10,000 Miles
- Luxury That Relieves Misery
- The Value Factor
- Clean, Crisp but I Want Analog
- Engine Continues To Impress
- Front-View Camera
- Fuel Economy Update for February
- Road Trip Composure, or Lack Thereof
- Screen Washes Out in Direct Sunlight
- Budget Executive Footrest
- Trunk Full of Soda
- Great Steering Wheel
- Fuel Economy Update for March
- Which Service Interval to Follow?
- Best Fix for Chrome Wheel Rash
- The Lawyer Screen
- Power Soft-Close Door Latches
- Fuel Economy for April
- Fast But Not Fun
- HUD Doesn't Work with Polarized Shades
- It's Not You, It's Me
- Better Tire Pressures
- Interior Highlights (Video)
- Good on the Highway, Not in the City
- Regrets, Relief on the Road to San Francisco
- A Little Late to the 15,000-Mile Service
- Service Includes Wrong, Random Tire Pressure
- Self-Serious Startup Theatrics
- Fuel Economy Update for May — Meets the EPA Numbers, Falls Short on Luxury
- Great Shifter, Never Mind the Dust
- Luxury Trim Includes LED Headlights
- Panoramic Sunroof Comes Close to Open-Top Motoring
- Trading an Accident for a Heart Attack
- Down a Quart After 2,000 Miles
- Great A/C Shrugs Off Triple-Digit Temps
- Hidden Sport Display
- V8 Lust Deepens on Road to Phoenix
- What You Get for Twice the Price
- Legit Luxury
What Did We Get?
$66,400. That's the sticker price for our new long-term 2015 Kia K900. It's a big number for any car, let alone a brand that's known by most for its sub-$20K Soul hatchback.
If you've been following Kia and its sister brand Hyundai over the last few years, you may already know that Hyundai already sells the similarly priced Equus luxury sedan. Like the Equus, the K900 aims to challenge the segment leaders by offering high-end creature comforts for a lot less scratch.
It's about more than just a long list of features, too. The K900 is big, like Lexus LS 460 L big, and it has plenty of power thanks to a standard 5.0-liter V8 that sends 420 horsepower to the rear wheels through an eight-speed transmission.
When it comes to features, the K900 definitely delivers. The base level trim includes a panoramic sunroof, front and rear parking sensors, three-zone climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a power rear sunshade with manual rear window sunshades, and heated steering in its $60,400 base price. These are options on most other luxury cars.
What Options Does It Have?
The K900 is very much a "what you see is what you get" affair. There's no extensive, Porsche-like options list with paint-matched keys or leather-wrapped air vents. Aside from the color of the interior and exterior — lots of silver, gray and black — there's only one box to tick, and it's marked "VIP package." At $6,000, the VIP package increases the K900's price by 10 percent, but you get a lot for the money.
The package adds a smattering of extras that keep the Kia competitive with its far more expensive and tech-laden rivals. A 360-degree overhead-view camera system, adaptive cruise control, power soft-close door latches, 16-way seats and a head-up display are all included. The niceties are not just limited to the front seats. After all, large luxury sedans are less about driving and more about being driven in. Occupants in the back get adjustable headrests, lumbar support and ventilated and reclining seats.
Our tester is decked out in Bright Silver paint against a black leather interior. Loaded with the VIP package, our car retails for $66,400.
Why We Got It
This is Kia's statement car. It's big, expensive and designed to compete with the best luxury sedans in the world. There's no heritage to lean on and the length of its warranty isn't going to help it much. Buyers in this category expect excellence in every aspect of the ownership experience.
During our year-long test we'll not only test its extensive list of features, we'll report on the service experience that comes along with our nearly $67,000 sedan. Has Kia sufficiently upped its game to satisfy customers who are used to being pampered? Or is that one aspect of the K900 that you simply don't get for the price?
We will be looking for answers to these questions and many others over the next 20,000 miles. Follow our Long-Term Road Test Updates page as we cruise in comfort for 12 months and 20,000 miles.
Best MPG: 19.5
Worst MPG: 12.6
Average MPG over 401.8 miles: 15.7
The manufacturer provided this vehicle for the purpose of evaluation.
Perhaps it's because our long-term 2015 Kia K900 is in a non-descript shade of gray/silver, but driving home last evening I was practically invisible in it. This may not have anything to do with the color and looks of the K900, it may have more to do with a bunch of bored commuters trying to get home. But I was cut off left and right, pulled out on, almost plowed into, or generally ignored. Maybe everyone one was texting. Or maybe they just weren't interested.
Usually when you drive a brand new model around town, especially in car-savvy L.A., there is some sense of curiosity by others on the road.
Anyway, I was fairly happy on the inside of the Kia K900. My drive home was smooth and quiet. My iPod connected easily so I could listen to a seminar while stuck in traffic. And the materials were of good quality.
It took me a while to find a comfortable driving position though. This is a large car and as you know I'm a shorty. When I adjusted my seat close enough to be able to reach the pedals, everything else was suddenly too close: the steering wheel, the rearview mirror, the plastic at my knees. I imagine this car would be very comfy for James or Cameron, our taller guys. But it won't deter me from driving it again.
The 2015 Kia K900 is a nice car. Don't ignore it because it has a Kia badge or you think it's too close to the Hyundai Equus. It deserves some attention on its own.
This car feels like a serious luxury sedan worthy of its hefty price tag. The huge doors close with a solid thump, the seats are nicely trimmed with plenty of adjustment and the interior feels spacious in every direction.
The shift lever for the eight-speed automatic is solid when you notch it into gear and the steering wheel has a nice thick rim and good rests for your thumbs. I even like the way the throttle feels as you ease into the power. It's buttery smooth at light throttle and responsive when you dig a little deeper.
Donna was right when she said that the K900 blends right into traffic, but I don't see that as a big problem. This car makes a statement from the driver's seat, one that says you can get true luxury in a Kia these days. We'll see how well it holds up.
As the most luxurious, most powerful and most expensive Kia ever in our fleet, our 2015 Kia K900 has proven to be quite popular, rotating through our staffers to see just what this thing was all about.
Quickly, the K900 and its 420-horsepower, 5.0-liter V8 cruised across the 600-mile break-in mark and we were free. Free to floor it and rev the engine to redline. Free to get on the brakes hard. Free to do what we do with every long-term car when it joins our fleet, take it to the test track.
Big car, big motor. How'd it do?
Vehicle: 2015 Kia K900
Driver: Chris Walton
Front engine, Rear-wheel drive
Transmission Type: 8-speed automatic
Engine Type: naturally aspirated V8
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 5,038 / 307
Redline (rpm): 6,750
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 420 @ 6,400
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 376 @ 5,000
Brake Type (front): One-piece ventilated with four-piston fixed calipers
Brake Type (rear): One-piece ventilated with single-piston sliding calipers
Suspension Type (front): Independent MacPherson struts, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Independent multilink, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): P245/45R19 98V M+S
Tire Size (rear): P275/40R19 101V M+S
Tire Brand: Hankook
Tire Model: Optimo H426
Tire Type: Low Rolling Resistance
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 4,650
0-30 (sec): 2.4 (w/ TC on 2.6)
0-45 (sec): 3.8 (w/ TC on 4.2)
0-60 (sec): 5.7 (w/TC on 6.1)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 5.5 (w/TC on 5.8)
0-75 (sec): 8.1 (w/TC on 8.5)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 13.9 @ 102.1 (w/TC on 14.2 @ 101.7)
30-0 (ft): 31
60-0 (ft): 126
Slalom (mph): 61.7 (62.1 w/TC on)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.81 (0.78 w/ESC on)
RPM @ 70: 1,750
Acceleration comments: Initially, the K900 feels as if it will spin its tires, but the traction control system (TCS) clamps down hard and makes the car stumble off the line. Disabling TCS allows the tires to spin, but only slightly more and it really doesn't help acceleration, in fact it hurts it. Automatic upshifts are well below indicated redline in both Drive or manual-shift mode and are buttery smooth, but seem to last quite a while before the next gear is engaged. Manual-shift mode with the stubby BMW-style shift nub is accessed toward the driver, but upshifts are requested with a forward nudge and downshifts rearward. Nice, subtle V8 rumble and an admirable performance across the board.
Braking comments: Medium-firm pedal on first (and shortest) stop to softer pedal on last. Expected amount of big-car nose dive, self-cinching belts, some ABS noise, but no directional stability problems at all. Noticed brake-pad odor after four stops, so called it done with only minor distance increase over this group of stops.
Slalom: What starts out feeling like a pretty confident and capable car with good steering response and an ability to hold a good line with authority quickly deteriorates into a big task for a big car. Once the chassis gets the least bit out of shape, it grows more and more reluctant to transition and change direction. What's more is that there's an unusual "bump-steer" or kick-back coming from the steering wheel at the precise moment I needed it to be responsive and change direction for the next slalom cone.
Skidpad: On the skidpad, the car leaned quite a lot and I could really hear the tires howling. I am rather surprised at the amount of actual grip they supplied (from the 0.78g-0.81g figures). Steering felt informative, provided good precision, but ultimately the front tires were the ones that gave up first.
August 11, 2014 was the first date we put gas in the 19.8-gallon tank of our 2015 Kia K900 sedan. Its 5.0-liter V8 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission haven't seen much open road action just yet, and it has been obliged to keep several in-town appointments for check-in activities such as photo shoots and measurement sessions.
And that's why we're not overly concerned about its average consumption rate of 15.3 mpg. We expect this to drift upward somewhat in the coming months.
But not too much. This massive Kia is a humungous rear-drive sedan. Our version with the 420-horsepower V8 carries an EPA Combined rating of 18 mpg, which breaks down to 15 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway
There's only a couple of mpg between here and there.
Worst Fill MPG: 12.6
Best Fill MPG: 19.5
Average Lifetime MPG: 15.3
EPA MPG Rating: 18 Combined (15 City / 23 Highway)
Best Range: 282.7
Current Odometer: 1,602
Last week I got tasked with returning a large folding dog crate we'd borrowed from a friend, and the wheels I had at my disposal belonged to our new 2015 Kia K900 sedan. That seemed appropriate. The car was initially going to be sold as the K9 until wiser heads prevailed.
Whatever it's called, the K900 is a big car with what I presumed to be a massive trunk. The spec sheet credits it with 15.9 cubic feet, which wasn't as big a number as I'd expected. And the rear seatbacks can't be folded down because our Kia K900 has power-adjustable rear seats.
Meanwhile, the crate in question was a size Large meant for 71-90 pound dogs. The Web site listed its long dimension at 42 inches (aka 3.5 feet). But I didn't need to know that to realize it was too big to go in crossways. Lengthwise was my only choice.
Success! It just barely fit, though, snugged in between the trunk sill and the backseat.
The trunk floor measures 43 inches long, but there was less to work with because of the way the thickness of the crate interacted with the sloping seatback. And 42 inches was either the inside dimension or the result of rounding. In actual fact the crate was half an inch longer where it mattered.
"It can't be this bad," I muttered to myself last week as I tabulated the first three weeks of fuel consumption data for our new 2015 Kia K900 sedan.
The average worked out to 15.3 mpg, which compared poorly to the V8-powered Kia's EPA Combined rating of 18 mpg. A closer look at its component parts, 15 mpg City and 23 mpg Highway, suggested a distinct lack of freeway miles. More of them, I reasoned, would put things right. But there was only one way to confirm my theory.
Fortunately, I had one coming up. I was headed north to Monterey for the weekend, the perfect occasion to stretch the big Kia's legs a bit.
The route north consisted of Interstate 5, Highway 46 (an arrow-straight two-lane road) and the 101 Freeway. My calculator says these first 346 miles came and went at 22.4 mpg. Now we're getting somewhere.
Next was a 315-mile tank that included trips to the racetrack, some unknowable valet miles, a bit of touring north of the city through artichoke fields, and the obligatory picturesque drive down the coast on Highway 1, with multiple photo stops thrown in for good measure. Slower going, a mix of steep hills and corners, a dusting of city traffic and numerous sightseeing stops resulted in a 20.4-mpg tank, but this still bested any single line entry in the August Fuel Economy summary.
The final homeward leg was all freeway, beginning in San Luis Obispo and ending at the Shell station around the corner from my house. Going with the flow of traffic, those 238 miles slid serenely past at 25.3 mpg.
This outing made it clear that the K900 can meet and even exceed its highway fuel economy rating without too much trouble.
But that's not all. The big Kia proved to be smooth, quiet and comfortable over the entire distance. The K900 is well-suited to the open road, and there's no doubt it's going to rack up many more road trip miles in the 11 months to come.
You'll see it every time you press the button to start a 2015 Kia K900 sedan. The former blank slate of an instrument panel comes to life and goes through a little boot-up dance before settling down and getting on with the job.
See for yourself after the jump.
I kind of like it.
Back seat passengers have no reason to complain in the Kia K900. Not only do they get their own set of seat adjustments, climate controls and a nifty set of window shades, they also get plenty of space in every direction.
Consider the fact that the K900 has more head and shoulder room that a Rolls-Royce Ghost. And even when it comes to legroom, the Roller only tops the Kia by a couple of inches.
More than just space, the K900 offers genuinely comfortable seats. They have plenty of contouring to them and they're also heated and cooled. Even the giant doors are easy to close, and if you don't do it well enough, they'll finish the job themselves.
Short of things like the automatic perfume dispenser in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, there aren't too many features the back seat of this K900 doesn't offer.
The interior of our long-term 2015 Kia K900 is quiet, like really quiet. The 5.0-liter V8 gives a good rumble when you give it the beans, but this thing is exceptionally quiet on the highway and in city traffic. In fact, it is one of the quietest cars in our long-term fleet. To see just how quiet it is, I turned to our official testing numbers.
Our old long-term 2013 Tesla Model S and 2014 Ram 1500 Ecodiesel are great at drowning out noise, and I've used them as a benchmark for cabin silence before, but even those two have a hard time competing with this big, buttoned up, luxury sedan. Here's how the K900 stacks up against those models and a couple of other flagships from its upscale competitors:
|dB @ Idle||dB @ "Full Throttle"||dB @ 70 mph|
|2015 Kia K900||39.3||69.5||59.5|
|2013 Tesla Model S||36.4||62.5||61.7|
|2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel||41.9||65.1||60.2|
|2014 Audi A8 4.0T||40.1||68.4||61.8|
|2014 Mercedes S550||37.5||67.6||60.1|
So while the Kia K900 is marginally louder at full throttle than the other big sedans, it's definitely the quietest at highway speeds and that's no small feat when it's up against vehicles that cost nearly twice as much.
The various parking cameras on our long-term 2015 Kia K900 are excellent. They allow you to toggle between four different views (at speeds less than 12 miles an hour) and view pretty much every possible parking angle and impact point. As a result, the 16.5-foot, flagship Kia is remarkably easy to park.
The Around View Monitor (AVM), as Kia calls it, is only available as part of the $6,000 VIP package, which represents a 10-percent increase in the total cost of the car, a big difference at any price point. So is it worth it?
Well, here's the other equipment included in the deal: power reclining rear seats (with adjustable headrests), ventilated outboard rear seats, a 16-way power driver seat, air lumbar support, the 12.3" center display, a head-up display, soft close power door latches, adaptive cruise control and a few other safety features. These features might not be enough to warrant the $6K price increase on their own, but for me, the cameras tip it over the edge.
Instead of thinking about the K900 as $60,000 car with a $6,000 options package, I like to think of it as a $66,000 car. It would make even more sense if Kia sold the car that way with no options, just a big, comfy, quiet sedan with a lot of equipment for the money. And when you consider it that way, it's still $10-20K less than its comparable German rivals.
I drove our long-term 2015 Kia K900 for the first time last night and the word that kept coming to mind was "buttery." As in buttery smooth. The throttle tip-in and initial surge from the 5.0-liter V8 engine: buttery. The shifts from its eight-speed automatic: buttery. The cosseting ride quality: buttery. The nice-and-easy steering: buttery. I can't quite describe the leather as buttery soft, but it is certainly nice.
Indeed, the K900 provides an elevated sense of luxury when behind the wheel that you just don't get in the vast majority of other cars, including those with honest-to-goodness luxury badges. It seems like the sort of car that will make you forget about the urban morass around you or the hundreds of highway miles still ahead.
A few weeks ago, the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers, told assembled reporters to "r-e-l-a-x" regarding the team's suboptimal early games. Ah, but how to relax? How about taking a drive in a 2015 Kia K900?
Our K900 is a really great place to be if you enjoy that old-school driving vibe of the big American luxury sedan. Some of my fellow coworkers have already described it as "buttery" or noted how impressively quiet it is at highway speeds. And sure enough, the K900 glides down the road with ease. This is a one-hand-on-the-wheel type of car.
The K900 is also unapologetically designed to be comfortable. You can't get an air or adjustable suspension on it, so either you like the suspension tuning or you don't. The driver seat is wide and, lacking major or adjustable lateral side bolsters, is easy to slide in and out of. There are adjustable driving modes for the steering and gas pedal sensitivity, but setting it to "Sport" seems akin to asking Josh Groban to perform in Nike workout gear.
I suppose all of these factors could be viewed as negatives. But I'm more than happy to just kick back and enjoy the Kia for what it is. Maybe Mr. Rodgers can add the K900 to his list of product endorsements.
On big luxury sedans, you typically have to pay extra to get a premium sound system. For instance, you have to pay $6,400 to get the optional Burmester system in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, or $6,300 to get the fancy Bang & Olufsen system in the Audi A8. But Kia seems to think that a flagship luxury sedan should have a flagship sound system right from the start. As such, every 2015 Kia K900 comes standard with a 17-speaker Lexicon surround-sound audio system.
It's pretty easy to get jazzed about something that, with 17 speakers and a 900-watt amplifier, it's kind of like your own rolling Best Buy audio demo room. You can even make it a game to go around the K900's interior and try to spot all the speakers. There are eight speakers in the frontal seating area (doors and dash), six total speakers in the rear doors and then three speakers (including the subwoofer) in the rear deck.
With all this audio firepower, you'd expect the K900 to sound pretty awesome. I don't think it will disappoint. I won't claim to be an audio quality analyzing expert, but I also think if you drive enough cars you'll get a pretty decent feel for what's good and not so good. This Lexicon impressed me most with its balance. The bass is there without being overly boomy while the highs are crisp and measured. I actually went to the system's sound settings for bass and treble and found that the default settings were actually perfect for me. I'm sure it also helps that the K900 is so quiet to begin with.
I've played a variety of music from my iPod and it all sounded great. Even the normally low-fidelity quality of satellite radio seems to sound a tad better in the K900. I also broke out some old stuff that I rarely play to let my two young children listen to the clock-and-drum intro of Pink Floyd's "Time" and the variety of instruments found in Marvin Gaye's "Right On." In today's world of smartphone speakers and earbuds, I'd bet a lot of today's kids have completely missed out on the audiophile experience.
Perhaps you've heard that LeBron James is going to be the 2015 Kia K900's new spokesperson for the "Fit for a King" campaign. No doubt, LeBron will be used to demonstrate the K900's extensive room and feature content. Less likely, however, will be a demonstration of how well LeBron manages to fit his two small children in the backseat.
I'm here to help you out, LeBron.
I'm guessing LeBron won't have much of a problem. In the above photo you can see the K900's massive amount of rear legroom. The driver seat is positioned for me (I'm 5-foot 10-inches tall). Even LeBron, at 6-foot 8-inches, should have enough room for little legs behind him.
A more difficult test, though, would be a rear-facing child safety seat. In this photo I switched this Britax Marathon child safety seat to its rear-facing position, which is used for infants. There's still plenty of room for me, but I suspect that LeBron could have issues at this point if he tried to position the driver seat for himself. LeBron, you're more than welcome to come over to the Edmunds offices so we can check this out in person.
Still, for the rest of us kid-toting parents who aren't as vertically gifted, the K900's expansive backseat is pretty great.
In our recent performance testing update on our 2015 Kia K900, we listed the car's 0-60 mph acceleration time of 5.7 seconds (or 6.1 seconds with traction control on). In comparison to other European flagship sedans with V8 engines (typically turbocharged), the K900 could be viewed as being slow. For example, the last Audi A8 4.0T we tested rocketed to 60 mph in just 4.2 seconds.
But in my experience, the K900 still feels plenty strong in real-world driving.
That listed acceleration time isn't fully indicative of the car's potential, either, as we encountered traction issues. Yet if you escape the test facility and just mat the gas for freeway entrance ramps or passing, 60 or 70 mph come very easily, as do extra-legal speeds if you keep the gas matted to pass that road-hogging RV. The V8 sounds nice, too, giving off a nice (but not too loud) growl as the revs rise. I don't see potential owners saying, "Gee, this thing is slow."
It's a similar story with the eight-speed automatic transmission. It doesn't upshift or downshift as quickly (particularly in manual mode) as the latest eight-speed autos in the Europeans. But again, is this really a significant drawback? I don't think so as it is smooth shifting and unobtrusive the rest of the time.
For a big, comfort-oriented luxury sedan, the K900's V8 is pretty ideal.
We've written a lot about the extreme comfort of our 2015 Kia K900. I'll be taking it on a 250-mile highway drive and I'm looking forward to kicking back and enjoying the K900's soft ride and impressive sound system. At some point, though, I'll have to wind around a highway exit ramp or potentially maneuver quickly to get around a road hazard.
It's times like this where the K900's magic abruptly stops.
This is a big, comfort-tuned luxury sedan without any adaptive suspension components. Go around a turn at a modest speed and it actually feels pretty stable, but add more speed and the howling tires will let you know that you're doing things the K900 isn't happy about.
Even more telling than steady state cornering is when you make quick steering wheel inputs. Weave back and forth to avoid a shredded tire carcass in your path, for example, and the K900 flops around on its suspension unsettlingly. You'll experience a lot of nose dive if you hit the brakes hard, too.
Does it matter? Sort of. In comparison to most other big luxury sedans fitted with adaptive suspensions, the K900 is notably deficient in performance handling. But the K900 does everything else so well (and for such an agreeable price) that I'm happy to accept reality and just enjoy the drive.
A couple of months ago, Donna wrote how she felt "practically invisible" in our long-term 2015 Kia K900. I can relate to that. In my experience, the K900 just goes about its business without attracting much attention from other motorists. Only when people have had a few minutes to actually notice it do they get curious. And when they learn that it's a Kia and not a Lexus or BMW, they get even more interested.
Interestingly, the reactions haven't been of complete bewilderment. Perhaps that's because Kia has been doing some semi-upscale stuff with its Optima. People I've talked to just wanted to know more about it.
I suppose for some other car shoppers, though, having a Kia badge on the back is still going to be a turnoff. A luxury flagship sedan often serves just as much as a status symbol as it does for delivering palatial seating and effortless power. This isn't the car to try to one-up everybody at the yacht club.
But if you don't really care about that, the K900 could very well be the car for you. It has an unpretentious aura to it. Its styling is handsome but sedate. There's no outlandish, twin-turbo V12 engine under the hood. It's just a big, luxurious sedan that's here to coddle its driver and passengers and do it for a very fair price. For me, I can see that as very appealing.
This is the shifter in our 2015 Kia K900. It may control the swapping of eight different gears, but it only moves half an inch in any one direction in the process. It's basically one big electronic switch.
Kia isn't the first carmaker to go this route. BMW has been doing it for years with varying degrees of success. I got used to the one in our X5 after some time but once again I find the lack of actual movement in our Kia a little odd.
Part of it comes down to its size. When you see a lever this big you expect it to move. Why else would you make it so big? It's not like you need any leverage to nudge it half an inch one way or the other.
I also don't like that you have to push the button in to select a gear instead of just pushing it up or down. It's like that in the standard gate, but if you move it to the manual gate it switches to a simple bump and shift setup.
If I had my choice, I would prefer something more along the lines of the shifter we have in our Mercedes CLA. It's just a simple stalk on the side of the steering wheel and it feels appropriately sized to the job. That positioning also frees up extra console space which is always in short supply.
Our 2015 Kia K900 is equipped with the only option offered. It's called the VIP package and among its many features is a set of rear seat controls that rivals anything you'll find from BMW and Mercedes.
Flip the armrest down and you get access to this extensive control panel. As you can see it offers controls for seat adjustments including lumbar support, retractable sunshade, seat heating and ventilation, and rear climate controls. Combine all of that functionality with ample room in every direction and it makes for pretty deluxe accommodations.
The best thing about these features is they actually make a difference in the overall level of comfort in back. The seat heaters fire up quickly and to a temperature that requires turning them down after a few minutes. The ventilation system isn't exactly cold, but it does make it feel a few degrees cooler without having vents blowing in your face. Even the lumbar support works well as it has a good range of adjustment for those that like a good shove in the lower back.
Like the rest of the car, this setup works well as long as you're not expecting anything extravagant. It just works.
We added about 1,200 miles to the odometer of our 2015 Kia K900 in October. It's been in the hands of editors who live near the office, who undoubtedly appreciate the cruiser's ability to soak up Los Angeles's poorly maintained roads. I predict some road trips in the K900's future if we want to hit our goal of 20,000 miles over 12 months.
The Kia's overall fuel economy improved slightly, from 16.7 mpg in September to an even 17.0. The EPA combined rating is within reach, which the K900 will have no problem hitting after we stretch its legs a little.
Worst Fill MPG: 12.1 mpg
Best Fill MPG: 25.3 mpg
Average Lifetime MPG: 17.0 mpg
EPA MPG Rating: 18 Combined (15 City/23 Highway)
Best Range: 345.5 miles
Current Odometer: 4,333 miles
Just because our 2015 Kia K900 has a serious sound system doesn't mean it also has a complicated control interface. In fact, it's one of the easier setups you'll find in a luxury car.
As you can see, there are knobs and buttons for all the major audio functions. That's a good start. Some systems give you a volume knob while others might throw you a bone and give you a tuning knob too. Here you get both along with buttons that will get you straight to your source of choice.
This seems simple, but when you're sitting in L.A. traffic for hours at a time, the ability to jump between FM stations, satellite radio and Bluetooth audio with the press of a single button is quite nice. It's certainly possible with other systems but they often pack such functions together into one button that requires constant toggling.
Add in the fact that this whole setup takes up a small sliver of dash space and I'd say it's a good use of real estate.
A serious luxury sedan should have a serious trunk. Even if you don't need the space every day, a full-size four-door should have the ability to take four adults on a trip that might involve luggage. Our Kia K900 doesn't disappoint in this regard.
For one, it's big. Officially, there's 15.9 cubic feet of space. That's not the biggest number you'll find on a luxury sedan, but the K900 makes good use of its space. There are no odd intrusions from the suspension or the trunk lid supports.
It also has a wide opening with a reasonable lift-over height. I've tossed two full-size suitcases in without any trouble. And those suitcases fit length-wise with room to spare.
I also like the placement of the cargo net. This seems like a no brainer, but sometimes these nets are attached in such a way that you can't actually put much underneath them. This net is spread out so it's easy to lift up and wedge something underneath.
Finally, there's a switch up front that both opens and closes the trunk lid completely. It's a nice to have feature when you drop someone off and they forget to close things up.
There are certain modern features on cars that are so convenient they are making it onto my must-have list.
If I were buying a new car I would want heated seats (no surprise), a rearview camera (soon to be standard) and a head-up display. This last one has only just made it onto my list after traveling several hundred miles in our long-term 2015 Kia K900.
I never thought of it as particularly useful. It's nice to see your speed displayed so you don't need to look down. But when you are driving through the middle of nowhere, having the navigation directions right in front of you is extremely helpful. Normally, I would keep the nav voice commands on so I don't have to look over at the center screen. But the head-up display allowed me to keep the nav mute.
What are the must-have features for your next new car?
While the driver seat of the 2015 Kia K900 is a nice place to be, rear passengers get some love from Kia, too.
Our long-termer comes standard with heated rear seats, a power rear window sunshade, manual side sunshades and a rear seat USB charging port.
Optional equipment includes power reclining rear seats, ventilated rear seats, adjustable headrests and rear lumbar support, all included in the $6,000 VIP Package (among other things).
It's nice to sit in the back.
Our long-term 2015 Kia K900 and the Hyundai Equus are cousins. Aside from the fact that the Hyundai has the optional air suspension, the two cars are pretty much equal. I would argue that the Kia has a better looking exterior, but that is a matter of taste.
A few of you have asked why we are testing the K900 after having an Equus in our fleet. Well, for one thing, our long-term Equus was the 2011 model. Hyundai gave the Equus a major refresh in 2014, so they are not exactly the same. And we wanted to see how Kia handles the luxury proposition.
While most of the specifications for these two cars are the same, there are some minor distinctions. You can look at them side by side in our comparison tool. In this chart, I've picked out the areas where they differ:
2015 Kia K900
2015 Hyundai Equus
Front head room
Front leg room
Rear head room
Rear leg room
Rear shoulder room
Which model do you prefer?
Our long-term 2015 Kia K900 may not be the quickest car to get from zero to 60 mph, but it's not bad at all. In our instrumented testing, our long-termer managed it in 5.7 seconds.
In real life situations like accessing the freeway, the K900 gets up to speed smoothly and quietly. It's one of those cars where you don't realize how fast you are actually going until you look at the speedo. It gets the job done without fuss and without hesitation.
I like a stealthy car.
Our long-term 2015 Kia K900 added a hair more than 825 miles to its odometer while consuming just shy of 47 gallons of California's best premium 91-octane gasoline. Using all fingers and toes, this calculates to 17.6 mpg for the month.
This result is juuuust below its EPA combined rating of 18 mpg, but edges its lifetime fuel economy up to 17.1 mpg after 5,160 miles.
Worst Fill MPG: 12.1 mpg
Best Fill MPG: 25.3 mpg
Average Lifetime MPG: 17.1 mpg
EPA MPG Rating: 18 Combined (15 City/23 Highway)
Best Range: 345.5 miles
Current Odometer: 5,160 miles
Note: Cars are sometimes refueled before their fuel tanks are nearly empty. As such, "best" and "worst" fuel economy entries above are not necessarily the result of an entire tank's worth of driving.
I'm not Mike "I hope you have a big trunk, 'cuz I'm gonna put my bike into it" Monticello, but I was surprised by how cavernous the cargo area of our long-term 2015 Kia K900 really is.
That's four 16-inch tires in there, with plenty of room to spare. Spare. Get it? Spare? Nyuk nyuk.
Our long-term 2015 Kia K900 is a luxury car that doesn't have a sporting bolt in its body. Not that it isn't quick — on the contrary, it's plenty rapid — but becoming one with the road isn't what the K900 is about.
Ruminations and impressions after the jump.
First, its ride quality is very, very soft. It even goes a bit too far in this regard, wallowing over low-frequency freeway heaves and recovering in a somewhat underdamped manner. In its attempt to isolate, it gives up too much control, by my estimation.
Engine-wise, the power is there definitely, but throttle response is overly damped and is calibrated to provide a bit too much initial gain. In other words, it's easy to overdo your initial throttle application when leaving the line. It goes like this: nothing, nothing, whoa! It does move out smartly when called upon, however.
The steering is overboosted, requiring very little effort. Strangely, at very slow speeds like when you're cranking the wheel around in order to park, the assistance can't keep up and the steering goes abruptly stiff. Another area of the K900's steering that needs help is the stiction it exhibits when you move the wheel from a fixed position. There is also zero steering feel.
Its steering effort is a touch less absurdly overboosted in Sport mode. Sport mode also remaps the transmission so that first gear is selected when enabled from a standstill (normally it launches in second gear), holds gears longer, and locks out its top gear. Ideally I'd like to pair the Sport steering setting and Normal powertrain settings, but I haven't found a way to do that. Seems to be all or nothing, unless I'm missing something.
I'll say this, though: The K900 is quiet. Very quiet. It's a big, soft, quiet car. Drivers need not apply.
Whether it's a Mercedes-Benz S-Class or a Kia K900, there's nothing quite like driving a full-size luxury car on a road trip. The grand size, the whisper quiet, the supreme comfort, the abundant power, the copious equipment and the excellent sound system are all qualities that make a road trip easier and better. Instead of arriving at your destination beat and ready to take a nap, you feel nearly as refreshed as when you left.
Although my morning drive down to San Diego was hardly what I'd consider a long haul, it was nevertheless lengthy enough to get an idea of just how fantastic our 2015 Kia K900 would be if I took it someplace exponentially further. Perhaps a "competitor" from a full-fledged luxury brand would've been even better, but the K900 nevertheless delivers the superior road trip-taking skills I expect of a full-size luxury car.
If I were in the market for a big, luxurious sedan for around $60K, the 2015 Kia K900 would be on my list for several reasons. The plush ride, the traditional interior design and the quiet cabin are just a few.
But there's one thing that continues to annoy me about this car, and it's a small thing. That would be the quarter panel "vents" just behind the front wheels. They're tacky, non-functional warts on an otherwise handsome looking sedan. If there was a "vent delete" option I would choose it, even if it cost extra. It's that annoying.
I wouldn't change much otherwise, well, except for maybe some non-chrome wheels, but now I'm just getting picky.
Last night a parent stopped me in the school parking lot to ask some questions about the 2015 Kia K900. The mother had recently been in an accident, and was looking to replace her 2009 Toyota Avalon. Since safety was now at the forefront of her mind, we discussed some of the K900's features.
We covered the usual: airbags, ABS, additional brake assist, stability and traction control, etc. Figuring I failed to mention some of the available items, I pulled up the list when I got home.
Like most cars these days, the Kia's comprehensive list of active and passive safety features is pretty long.
Here's the link to the 2015 Kia K900 Safety section on Edmunds. How many features can you name before looking?
I'm quite used to activating the front collision alert on most test cars when I pull into my garage at home. Especially in long cars like the 2015 Kia K900, which measures a full 16 feet and 8.6 inches (200.6 inches), I have to nose all the way in to my husband's tool chest before the vehicle's rear end will clear the garage door.
Although most cars start sounding the collision warning pretty early, some cars let their bumpers practically kiss the tool box before the final red alert loudly blares.
Not so with the big Kia. I still had a good 8-10 inches to go before I got the final warning.
The extra buffer is kind of nice, unless you get used to ignoring it.
A new light illuminated this morning on the 2015 Kia K900's instrument cluster, indicating the big sedan was in need of windshield washer fluid.
Well, that's an easy one to fix. I picked up a blue gallon for $7 from the gas station while I filled up the Kia's tank. Maybe it wasn't the cheapest route, but it certainly was the most efficient solution as I was headed there anyway.
They say the first step is admitting the problem? Well, I have an addiction to seat heaters. Doesn't matter how tepid the ambient temp, if there's a seat heater available, I've got it cranking full hot.
But the 2015 Kia K900 has the first seat heater system I actually had to turn down.
Offering three levels of heat, the Kia's highest seat-heat setting is flaming hot.
That's wonderful news if you live in the Snow Belt, but during the mild SoCal "winter," even my addiction is perfectly satisfied on the middle setting.
December was a busy month for our 2015 Kia K900 sedan, with nearly 3,400 miles added. My annual Christmas trip to Oregon and back is to blame for half of them, but since I've only just returned this is the first you've heard of it.
The holiday miles were mostly highway miles, albeit mountainous ones, at times, and so the big Kia's trip average of 22.2 mpg was hardly surprising. Three of our six tanks came in at or above the K900's EPA Highway rating of 23 mpg despite a load of four adults, their luggage and presents. The trip's best tank of 23.8 mpg came hot on the heels of a 23.6 mpg tank that reset our K900's range record at 414.2 miles.
Those numbers could have been better, too. But there was no dawdling going on, no half-baked attempt at hypermiling. Let's just say we made good time.
The remainder of the month's miles took place in the greater L.A. basin at just over 17 mpg. All told, December's miles came and went at 19.5 mpg, good enough to hoist the K900's lifetime average to 18.0 mpg, and exact match of its EPA Combined rating.
Worst Fill MPG: 12.6
Best Fill MPG: 25.3
Average Lifetime MPG: 18.0 (up from 17.1)
EPA MPG Rating: 18 Combined (15 City / 23 Highway)
Best Range: 414.2 (new best)
Current Odometer: 8,532
We heard it more than once during our Oregon holiday trip. "This thing's a low rider." The thing in question was our 2015 Kia K900 sedan, and they were right.
But there were just four of us on board: me driving plus my wife in the shotgun seat and our two daughters in back. Each of them weighs no more than 115 pounds apiece, well below the mythical SAE passenger allowance of 68 kilograms/150 pounds. And we had an open seat in back, too.
Sure, we had suitcases and plenty of presents in the trunk. But we packed relatively light using duffle bags. And most of our wrapped presents were comprised of air and tissue wrap. No one was getting a bowling ball or a full set of encyclopedias from Santa. We had less than 100 pounds back there.
Northern California and Oregon highways are generally smooth asphalt ribbons in reasonably good condition. Much of Highway 101 north of Ukiah is gracefully sinuous with sweeping 55 to 60 mph corners. But this is earthquake country, and the rain-soaked land beneath tends to slump and sag here and there. Cars with overly soft suspensions and/or short suspension travel do not excel in these parts.
And so it was with the soft and low-riding K900, which made frequent contact with its rear bump stops throughout the trip. The feeling was more restrained and progressive than the sharp thumps we experienced on the same route in the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited last year, but that didn't make it much easier to ignore.
Bumps in corners were the worst, forcing the big Kia into a weird diagonal lurch as the outside ran out of travel and forced the compression to be absorbed by the inside suspension until it, too, maxed out.
The K900 seems to employ a classic approach to ride comfort: soft, soft, soft. That can work, but there doesn't seem to be enough suspension travel to pull it off gracefully in this environment. The end result is a superficial feeling of comfort that doesn't hold up.
This state of affairs is especially confusing in the K900. In its home market the driver is an underling or a paid chauffeur. The owner is the one making use of the VIP package in the back seat. Why else would the rear seatbacks recline and provide controls to move the front seats forward and make the front seatbacks stand bolt-upright?
What I'm saying is this car should excel when adults are sitting in back. And I daresay The Chairman eats more heartily than either of my young daughters.
The K900 would seem to be a great long-distance road trip car. It is eerily quiet, amazingly well-equipped and offers space enough for NBA players, especially in the backseat.
But on this trip the ride tended toward comically soft and it quickly ran out of composure with a modest amount of weight added. To me it seems the K900 needs a rear load-leveling system or rear air suspension, or maybe just a slightly stouter rear suspension calibration and a smidge more ride height. Something.
You'd need smell-o-vision to know what was going on inside our 2015 Kia K900 sedan at the moment captured in the above image. The noxious reek was intense as we drove past a massive dairy farm on Interstate 5 on the way home from Oregon.
But the K900's Recirc button offered no relief. The methane and manure funk stayed with us for miles as if the car remained in fresh mode. The same thing happened at other times on the trip, too, when the cabin air recirculation mode did a poor job of shutting out the offending smells of decrepit diesels and overly-rich carbureted 60s classics.
And that's only half of it.
On several occasions the K900 refused to go into Recirc mode at all. Not always, mind you. It generally had to be cold outside, but I'm not sure of the exact recipe. The same thing happened a couple of times in warmer weather when I drove it to Monterey, California last summer.
I'd push the button when the system was in Auto mode, but instead of Recirc I'd get a flashing "Auto" indication that seemed to say "Can't you read? This is Auto mode. You're not in charge."
I have never had a car flat-out reject my request for Recirc unless it was in a full Defrost mode. Even then most systems will go along and pop out of Defrost or abandon Auto in order to give me the Recirc I asked for. But there was no windshield defrosting going on here. The system was delivering heat through its floor vents. It shouldn't have balked.
My wife eventually discovered a workaround at times like this. We had to shut down the K900's climate control system using the Off button and then turn it back on with the A/C button to make sure it wasn't in any sort of Auto configuration. Only then could we successfully select Recirc mode. In fact, this is the exact sequence we went through before my wife snapped the above picture as we gagged our way past the dairy farm.
Since the smell never let up, I wonder if the system still thought it knew better than us, turning on the Recirc light just to shut us up. It certainly smelled like that was the case.
I really don't care if there's a theoretical chance of windshield fogging due to specific meteorological conditions or whatever. Sometimes a person simply doesn't want to smell cow poo.
On the face of it, the cruise control system in our 2015 Kia K900 sedan does an admirable job of maintaining speed. (Note: For now I'm just talking about the regular cruise control or the adaptive system with no traffic detected.)
How good is it? The big Kia's indicated velocity never once deviated from my chosen set-speed by more than a single mph. And this remained true despite a route that included numerous steep climbs and long downgrades at highway speed.
But one critical aspect of the system's performance disturbed me to the point where I felt the need to manually intervene going downhill.
At freeway speeds the system seemed to rely exclusively on the brakes to keep speed in check. At no time did the eight-speed transmission downshift to help out. This approach is the exact opposite of everything I've been taught. It runs counter to every cautionary "Use Low Gear" road sign I've seen on downgrades scattered throughout the western United States.
I first noticed this about a mile down a 6-percent grade with the cruise set at 65 mph. At first I marveled at the K900's speed-holding ability, but then a faint steering wheel shimmy entered the scene, the kind that comes into being when brakes start to get hot.
So I cancelled the cruise control and took over. Almost at once the steering vibration stopped and the Kia's speed began a swift climb. I let it run up to 80 mph before I intervened, which didn't take long because the highly overdriven 8th gear (0.571-to-1) felt barely different from coasting in neutral.
This was a 6-mile descent, so I had time to slow the Kia down to 65 mph, reset and try again. Once again, the Kia's speed held steady, but after 10 seconds or so the persistent steering wheel throb reappeared, slightly more prominent this time. I paid attention to the tachometer and noticed that it hovered near 1,600 rpm, the same speed the engine had been turning on level ground. This meant there had been no automatic downshift. The car was still in top gear.
I shut off the cruise control again. But this time I slid the shifter into manual mode and downshifted into seventh gear (0.652-to-1). The K900 continued to pick up speed when I eased off the brake, so I tried sixth (0.831-to-1). The engine rpm came up again, but the Kia's speed still climbed, albeit to a lesser degree. Another tug brought the transmission into fifth (1-to-1), and this time its descent speed settled close to 65 mph. The engine hummed merrily along with little fuss at 2,800 rpm, and from then on I was able to trim the car's speed with an occasional light brush of brakes.
I was never comfortable letting the K900 run all the way down a long grade on cruise by itself after that. After all, that first time I'd started to sense heat-related brake vibration in the first mile with 5 miles of descent yet to go. And this was a chilly December day with an outside air temperature no greater than 55 degrees. I shudder to think what might have happened had I not realized what was going on and blindly let the cruise control lean on the brakes all the way to the bottom. At best I should think I would have earned myself a pair of permanently warped brake rotors.
Pity. Most cruise control systems don't control descent speed nearly this well. They'll allow the car to gradually pick up speed until the cruise self-cancels to let the driver know it's time to intervene according to how he or she was taught. In such cases I always drop a gear or two and fine-tune my speed with the brakes. I never ride them all the way down in top gear. Never.
But if a cruise control system regulates descent speed as well as the K900, it's hard to fault a driver for assuming that everything is under control. But here that seems to be a dubious assumption. Eighth gear is a highly overdriven 0.571-to-1 cruiser gear meant for fuel economy. There's essentially zero engine braking going on, and seventh gear isn't much better. I had to downshift all the way to fifth gear to achieve equilibrium on the 6-percent freeway grades I encountered.
I understand the need for this much overdrive in the name of highway fuel economy. But in such cases the transmission absolutely must participate in downhill speed regulation when cruise control is engaged. The brakes should never be left to this task by themselves. Top gear in an eight-speed such as this doesn't generate near as much natural engine braking as the three-speed automatic in the Ford Ranchero I drove in high school.
The countdown began on the northbound leg of our Oregon holiday trip in the 2015 Kia K900 sedan. We were just approaching our first overnight stop at Harris Ranch when a prominent Service Required message flashed its first warning indicating 1,000 miles to go.
More than 1,000 miles would pass before we got back home, so we'd be a little tardy. But at least they would be easy cruising miles, I told myself.
Monday morning saw me first in line at my local Kia/Suzuki/Isuzu service center. The service writer had never seen a K900 before, and indeed the sales lot was thick with lower-price fare that consisted mainly of Optimas and Souls.
The owner's manual called for a tire rotation, an oil change and a few cursory inspections. I had heard a faint rumor of a fuel filling problem from another staffer some weeks ago, but I had just added gas seven times during the course of my trip with absolutely no incident. I chalked it up to a bad pump and didn't bother to mention it. There was nothing wrong with the car as far as I could tell.
With no one in line ahead of me the car was washed and back in my hands in about 45 minutes. The cost? Nothing. The K900 comes with complimentary scheduled maintenance (up to five visits) during the first 3 years/37,500 miles.
Not bad at all.
There's something so wonderful about waking up before the sun comes up and pointing a car north to head to a racetrack. One of the better tracks near Southern California is Buttonwillow Raceway. But every now and then, the weather tends to complicate things.
Buttonwillow is a 2-hour drive from my house and it just barely touches California's central valley. While L.A. was experiencing unseasonably warm and beautiful weather, the central valley was socked in by heavy fog. It's not the first time I hit this featureless gray wall, either. It's something I've come to expect.
This time was as bad as I've seen, though. The speed limit through this stretch of Interstate 5 is 70 mph, but in some spots I dropped down to 40 mph along with the pack of cars around me. The photo above was shot in one of the clearer spots. When I exited the freeway, I could barely find the offramp.
I had already been using the K900's adaptive cruise control to keep me from going too fast on the long highway stretches. When I hit the fog, it helped relieve a little bit of the tension as the radar cut through the soup and slowed me down before I even spotted a vehicle. The vehicle, a white big rig with its lights off (seriously), wasn't visible until I moved over into the left lane and slowly crept up on it.
In fog-prone areas, adaptive cruise control certainly showed its merit. In fact, I think adding a fog mode with increased radar range might be a good idea. It'd be a bit like flying a plane using, but not relying solely on, instruments. Surely some engineers would be able to implement this.
Okay, that's enough Airplane! references for now.
Fair warning: I'm not a fan of lane departure warning (LDW) systems. Most of these systems aren't very accurate and tend to repeatedly fire off false alarms. Active lane keeping assist isn't much better, as most bounce the car to and fro within the lane like a drunkard is at the wheel.
Our 2015 Kia K900's LDW is far too sensitive, which would explain why the previous driver had turned it off. Fortunately, it stays off until you reactivate it, even after you park it for a while.
Sure, it beeps when you actually wander a little close to a lane marker, but it also picks up most other lines that might be running parallel to your direction of travel. Such was the case when I was traveling on a highway and a deep seam in the concrete appeared in my lane for about a half-mile.
Beeeeeeeeeeeep. Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep. Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.
I tapped that little button on the steering wheel once to shut it off. I don't think I'll ever turn it back on. FYI, it's not available on the base "Premium" trim and it's standard on the higher "Luxury" trim, so it's not something you can selectively add or delete.
After Dan's trip to Oregon in our 2015 Kia K900 in December, January ended up being a pretty quiet month. We logged about 1,200 miles and observed fuel economy similar to what we've seen in prior months.
For the month, we averaged 18.0 mpg. That's essentially the same as our lifetime average of 17.9 mpg as well as the EPA's combined fuel economy estimate of 18 mpg. Dan's trip to Oregon certainly boosted our lifetime EPA because of all the highway miles, but it's nice to see us matching EPA with normal driving around Los Angeles.
Worst Fill MPG: 12.1
Best Fill MPG: 25.3
Average Lifetime MPG: 17.9
EPA MPG Rating: 18 Combined (15 City/23 Highway)
Best Range: 414 miles
Current Odometer: 10,057 miles
Although blind-spot monitoring doesn't come standard on the 2015 Kia K900, our test car has it, and I think it's fair to assume the majority of K900s found on dealer lots will have it, too. (Only a base K900 would be without it.) But there's a further upgrade to the blind-spot monitoring system which I think is pretty cool and not found on many other cars. If you have the K900's optional head-up display, you get blind-spot notifications there, too.
Normally, blind-spot monitoring systems display warning lights either directly in the mirrors or in the mirror housings. This is true for the K900's system as it has the typical little yellow indicator lights in the mirrors that illuminate when vehicles are approaching from the rear on the left or right side of the vehicle. On the K900 with the Luxury style/package, though, you get a head-up display (HUD) that can also display blind-spot indicators.
I've found these blind-spot HUD indicators to be more useful than the typical mirror-based ones because they are closer to my normal view ahead. Instead of having to partially take my eyes off the road to check one of the side mirrors and/or see if the blind-spot indicator icon is illuminated, all I have to do is slightly shift my gaze to the HUD display to see if the blind-spot indicators are on. The upshot is that it can potentially improve safety by allowing me to keep my eyes directly ahead.
This isn't to say that you wouldn't ever check your mirrors again with this system. Blind-spot monitoring is just an assisting feature and I still use our K900's mirrors as the primary way to know where the traffic is around me. But those blind-spot icons in the head-up display are certainly an added bonus. Even if I'm not planning on changing lanes, they can supply me with easily accessible information about what kind of traffic might be behind or to the sides of me.
The 2015 Kia K900 comes standard with UVO, which is Kia's umbrella name for its various infotainment features. What you get with UVO depends on the Kia you're looking at, but our 2015 K900 has the UVO eServices with navigation setup.
Some of UVO's features are smartphone app-based, so I grabbed my iPhone 5s to learn more.
There are two main things to do to get started: Register for an account and download the app. To register, I went to the UVO site, found the login area and entered my email address and a password. You also have to select a local dealer. Then I downloaded the app. There are a lot of Kia-oriented apps in the Apple store, so I had to be specific in my search to find the correct UVO one.
The app doesn't work until you have an account. But if your account is set up, you get into the K900, turn the car on, pair your phone to the car using Bluetooth, and start the app. Then there are a couple of steps where you press the UVO button in the car to activate the eServices part of UVO.
If I factor in my time spent reading up on how to do this, creating an account, and then getting it all connected in the car, it probably took me about 30 minutes in total. But once it's all set up, you're done.
Then there's the next obvious question: Now what? Well, the UVO eServices app for the K900 provides a few different features. There are maintenance indicators, dealer service scheduling, diagnostic checks, roadside assistance, 911 emergency assist, point-of-interest forwarding and a parking function that remembers where you parked your car. Pandora integration is also part of UVO, but at the current time, the UVO app lacks any further integration for social media apps (Facebook/Twitter) or other music/audio apps (iHeart radio, for example).
I tried to test out some of UVO's available features. I ran the diagnostic report. All the report told me was that the car was fine, but, hey, there you go. I also used the POI function. It took some fiddling on my part to figure out how it works, but if you have saved locations or POIs in Google Maps (either the Web site or the app, I believe), you can forward those locations to the car and then use the car's navigation system to get you there. I haven't yet tried the parking function ("Dude, Where's My Car?") but if I happen to be in a big parking lot in the near future I'll give it a shot.
Based on these initial impressions, I'm a little underwhelmed. The last luxury brand app integration system I checked out, BMW ConnectedDrive in our 328i GT, had more features available. But presumably this is something that Kia can improve over time.
We added our 2015 Kia K900 to our long-term fleet back in August of last year. Approximately six months on, we've cleared 10,000 miles. That puts us right on track for our typical goal of getting 20,000 miles on test cars.
Halfway into our test, it would seem the K900 is pretty well liked by our team.
We've had a lot of praise for the interior, including the palatial rear seat, low levels of noise at speed, the big trunk and gadgets like the useful surround-view camera system, crisp head-up display and the high quality Lexicon sound system. The V8 engine is another positive, delivering quick acceleration at any rpm. Relaxed in nature, the K900 can remind you of the way big traditional American luxury sedans used to be. It's been trouble-free so far, too.
On the downside, suspension tuning seems to be from the old-school Detroit playbook. The suspension and steering can seem overly isolating and result in a lack of handling precision. Dan Edmunds also recently observed on his road trip to Oregon that adding rear seat occupants is surprisingly too much for the rear suspension, resulting in a lumpy and wallowly ride when driving around bumpy turns.
Overall, though, I think the K900 should be pretty appealing for shoppers looking for a big and luxurious sedan.
A construction project has turned traffic into a mental meltdown. Drivers are raging through intersections. Horns blare and tempers go rabid. On-ramps close, then magically reopen, offering hope. But it's a trap, leading into a dead-end clump of unmoving cars.
In short, yesterday was the zombie apocalypse of commutes. Rather than 45 minutes, it ate up an hour and 45 minutes, in a particularly gruesome way.
What made it somewhat bearable was the 2015 Kia K900, which I was driving for the first time. The ultra-cushy ride, intuitive controls and safety features, including the blind spot warning and head-up display, got me home with minimally jangled nerves.
My colleague Jason Kavanagh described the K900 as a "big, soft quiet car," not in a good way. He's right in saying that it's not a driver's car. But I needed roadway coddling yesterday, and that's just what I got.
For people shopping for a large luxury sedan, the 2015 Kia K900 might not immediately come to mind. It's a new car, and the Kia brand name isn't exactly synonymous with "flagship luxury sedan" yet. But I think if a friend were to ask me about what kind of large sedan he or she should consider, I'd certainly mention the K900.
The main reason for this is the K900's price. You're getting a lot of car (literally and figuratively) for your money. Configured like our long-term K900 in Luxury V8 trim with the VIP Package, a 2015 K900 will have an MSRP of $66,800. Edmunds TMV is about four grand lower than that (using our office ZIP code 90404). To get a 2015 Audi A8 L 3.0T with a similar level of features, for example, you'd have to pay an MSRP of about $90,000, or maybe $84,000 according to Edmunds TMV. Either way, you're looking at spending considerably more to get an A8.
Now, I'd certainly tell my friend that there are areas where an A8 (or another flagship sedan) can (or will) justify its higher price. But at that point it comes down to priorities. If you mostly want a big, comfortable luxury sedan packed with features, and you're not overly concerned with a perfect balance of ride and handling capabilities, the K900 is a great way to get a premium sedan for a non-premium price.
Kia's strategy with the 2015 Kia K900 is as obvious as it is brilliant: Build in some Lexus engine character, make it as quiet as a big Benz, load it with every executive-level creature comfort in the factory, then sell it all for about the price of a BMW 5 Series. It's hard to argue with the results. If you deal high-grade narcotics and need to stay under the DEA radar, but can't bring yourself to drive a more plebian sedan, you could do worse than the K900.
But if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I would've preferred Kia not ape the digital displays of the big German sedans. In theory, these displays make great sense. A simple, single LCD display that the driver can often customize to taste seems like a very sensible product for the connected age. Our Kia's is super clean with crispy graphics.
Only problem is that it's flat. Flat, flat, flat. No depth. No spatial sense. It's like watching a cartoon of what your right foot is doing, instead of watching a glowing red acrylic needle sweep up and down a surfaced gauge face. These displays (and the K900 is not alone) have all the charm of gauges from Gran Turismo.
Some people are fighting quixotic dreams to save manual transmissions. Baby steps, I say. Save analog gauges first.
Most luxury sedans are moving away from using a V8 engine as the standard offering. The 2015 Kia K900 not only comes standard with a 420-horsepower V8, there are no other options. Thankfully, it gives you very few reasons to want anything else.
For one, it delivers the kind of performance you would expect from a luxury sedan of this caliber. It's unobtrusive when it should be and suitably powerful sounding when you lay into it. I'm still surprised how fast it feels when I floor it to merge into traffic. And as powerful as it is, the delivery is easy to modulate, even in Sport mode. Not every luxury car scores well on this point.
I also like that this engine is predictable in its efficiency. The EPA says it should deliver 18 mpg in combined driving, and that's exactly what we're getting. It's not necessarily a great number on its own, but it's rare for any car in our fleet to get its rated mileage, let alone nail it exactly. Most luxury car owners might not care, but it's nice to know that the 18 mpg number isn't some pie-in-the-sky number. It's a real-world figure that doesn't take a light foot to get.
Our parking garage at the office can get pretty crowded and we double up cars in tandem spots fairly often. Some vehicles are large enough to take up a whole spot right up to the white divider lines. Our long-term 2015 Kia K900 is very helpful in this type of situation.
I first relied on this feature at a busy supermarket parking lot. The lot was crowded and spaces were difficult to find. As I pulled slowly into a spot, the front parking sensor camera came on to help me know how far I could pull into the spot before coming too close to the car parked opposite. When this front camera comes on, so does the all-around overhead view, showing the parking lines on both sides of the K900.
The pictures above are from our office garage. The one below is from the supermarket lot. I'm not a careless parker, but I know some people who are not very skilled at parking nor are they considerate. I can think of several neighbors on my street who need this functionality.
If you know any bad parkers, you can suggest the Kia K900 to them next time they are car shopping.
We've driven our 2015 Kia K900 more than 1,200 miles in February.
In mixed city/highway driving, we averaged 17.3 mpg. No big road trips or vacations this month.
Our best and worst fills remain unchanged, as does our lifetime average of 17.9 mpg, which is just .1 off from the EPA combined estimate of 18 mpg.
Worst Fill MPG: 12.1
Best Fill MPG: 25.3
Average Lifetime MPG: 17.9
EPA MPG Rating: 18 Combined (15 City/23 Highway)
Best Range: 414.2 miles
Current Odometer: 11,278 miles
I recently drove our long-term 2015 Kia K900 from Los Angeles to Phoenix, AZ, and back. One freeway, Interstate 10, connects the cities at either end. It's a straight shot, 390-mile run through the desert, with little elevation change and no turns to speak of. An ideal environment for this car...right?
As it turns out, no, it isn't.
I'd driven the K900 earlier and came away unimpressed. As a follow-up, I wanted to give the big sedan another chance to shine. This trip to Phoenix and back really should have played to the big sedan's strengths. Instead, it only reinforced my earlier conclusion that the suspension tuning needs a complete overhaul. The K900's ride tuning (and steering and throttle calibration) is a mess, and I don't think it should have left the proving ground in its current form.
If it was simply plush in an old-school Buick way, that would be understandable. The K900 is, however, not this way. Because it is overly soft and underdamped, the K900's suspension is sent crashing straight into its bump stops by any bump taller than a pavement seam. As a result, there's constant rubbery jiggling to go along with the floaty, bounding ride — the worst of both worlds. This car's sloppy ride quality is not comfortable at all. Oh, the irony.
Meanwhile, pavement irregularities also affect the K900's otherwise lifeless steering in the form of excessive bump steer. In other words, pockmarked or bumpy pavement sends the wheel kicking around in your hands and the front end jostling about in the lane. This is the only form of steering feedback evident in the K900, and it's the most unwelcome kind of steering feedback.
Like Dan Edmunds, I don't like the K900's adaptive cruise. It's only too eager to apply the brakes, and it acts in an abrupt, digital and conservative manner. It also registers false positives on gently curving freeways, dropping the anchors when it mistakenly thinks the truck in the adjacent lane is directly ahead. Fortunately, it can be switched to regular cruise mode by holding the distance button for a couple of seconds.
On the positive side of the K900's ledger, it is especially quiet. Road, wind and engine noise have been virtually banished. And its wide, comprehensively padded seat is road trip-friendly, complete with heaters and coolers. It has extendable thigh bolsters, too; always a plus. Also, its windshield washer fluid dissolves bug guts like no other I've encountered (I'm being serious here).
This road trip confirmed to me that Kia missed its mark with the K900. As a flagship, it should represent what the company is capable of achieving. Instead, its shortcomings suggest that perhaps the company isn't yet ready to compete at this level.
On my recent drive from Los Angeles to Phoenix in our long-term 2015 Kia K900, I observed that the car's multimedia screen washes out in direct sunlight. This renders it, at best, difficult to view. Usually it ends up unreadable.
Other automakers have screens that don't exhibit this issue.
That is all.
The Kid finds no shortage of fun in our 2015 Kia K900. It's huge, roomy, and she thinks it's hilarious to control the front climate control from the rear seat. At least she's helping us get our money's worth from the $6,000 VIP package.
She also found a little hack that turns the unoccupied front passenger seat into an executive footrest. Think of it as a budget solution to something like the rear passenger-side "ottoman" offered as part of the long-wheelbase Lexus LS460 L's Executive Class seating package.
There's nothing budget about the K900's rear seat packaging, though. The K900 actually offers 1.5 inches more rear legroom than the long Lexus, despite riding on a 1.8-inch shorter wheelbase — another example of Kia narrowing the traditional gap between top-notch luxury and value.
Our neighborhood high school has a big weekend show choir competition coming up, and I volunteered to donate a variety of beverages to be sold at the event's snack bar.
One hundred dollars later, I loaded eight cases of liquid refreshment into the K900's spacious 15.9 cu.ft. trunk.
Simple, sturdy and covered in nice materials, the steering wheel in our long-term 2015 Kia K900 is one of my favorite features on the car. We've got the optional "Leather-Wrapped & Genuine Wood" steering wheel that is heated, has a simple three-spoke design and several small, but easy-to-find, buttons for audio and cruise control.
There's a thick rim and the leather feels sturdy but pliable. The clean and basic design combined with the steering wheel's heft and high-quality materials make it feel upscale. Basically, it's a sturdy, well-designed piece and a nice place to hang your hands while driving.
Although the K900's best- and worst-fill averages remained the same, Jay coaxed the big sedan's lifetime average up a single tenth to 18 mpg, right on target with the EPA combined estimate.
Worst Fill MPG: 12.1
Best Fill MPG: 25.3
Average Lifetime MPG: 18.0
EPA MPG Rating: 18 Combined (15 City/23 Highway)
Best Range: 414.2 miles
Current Odometer: 13,180 miles
In January, Dan Edmunds took our long-term 2015 Kia K900 to the local Kia service center for its first regular maintenance visit. Dan also pointed out the benefit of the K900's three-year/37,500-mile complimentary scheduled maintenance program.
While driving the K900 this morning, I noticed the dealer maintenance sticker in the corner of the windshield, stating service due at 13,335 miles. Our K900 was already at 13,663 miles.
Doing the math, I calculated that the recommended dealer interval was 5,000 miles, while Kia's manufacturer recommendation is 7,500 miles under normal use. Since the complimentary service program includes a maximum of five visits, K900 owners following the dealer schedule would max out at 25,000 miles instead of stretching the free program over 37,500 miles. That basically cuts out one free oil change.
After nearly 15,000 miles of threading our 2015 Kia K900 through L.A traffic and stretching it out over the occasional road trip, the luxury sedan's bright, shiny chrome wheels have taken a few hits.
I noticed this 3-inch scrape on the right rear wheel while fueling up. Ouch.
Having never owned a car with chrome wheels, I turned to the Internet for some repair advice. I quickly found several simple resources requiring as few as four steps. What do you think, chrome-wheel compadres? Do I order some chrome touch-up paint, or is this fix better left to professionals?
Over the years, I've complained about this problem many times after driving many different Hyundais and Kias. And here we go again.
Each and every time you start the engine of our long-term 2015 Kia K900 you get this disclaimer screen. Every time. And to move along with your day you have to press "Agree." Every time.
I hate it. Every time.
If I owned this car and drove it every day, this would be a constant source of aggravation.
Our 2015 Kia K900 is so well-equipped that I continue to find features I had either forgotten about or didn't realize were included in our $66,000 luxury sedan. This week's discovery: power soft-close door latches, included as part of the $6,000 VIP package.
Watch this three-second video for a demonstration:
As Kia notes in its door-latch description:
"Sometimes you or a passenger may not close the door completely. Power Door Latches automatically complete the door closing process with a soft touch, helping to avoid the inconvenience of having to open and close the door again."
True enough. Sixty-six grand buys a lot of inconvenience avoidance.
Driven mostly around town in April, our long-term 2015 Kia K900 didn't break any fuel economy records during the past 30 days, but that wasn't such a bad thing, either.
Adding almost exclusively 750 miles of city-slog driving hardly affected the luxury sedan's average fuel economy rating, dropping it just one-tenth to 17.9 mpg. But since the Kia was already sitting exactly on the EPA's combined rating of 18 mpg, that's nothing to fret.
Best and worst fills remain the same, as does the best range of 414.2 miles.
Worst Fill MPG: 12.1
Best Fill MPG: 25.3
Average Lifetime MPG: 17.9
EPA MPG Rating: 18 Combined (15 City/23 Highway)
Best Range: 414.2 miles
Current Odometer: 13,921 miles
These days every car company wants you to believe they make fun cars, trucks and crossovers. They're all sporty. They're all fun to drive. And they spend billions of dollars on advertising and marketing convincing you of this big fat lie.
Don't believe it. Most new cars have plenty of power, but the truth is they don't actually perform well when asked, and they're not much fun to drive. Most pack about as much personality as a modern NASCAR driver.
Our long-term 2015 Kia K900 is just such a machine.
Drive the K900 to work in a very calm and socially-responsible manner and it is more than good. It borders on great. It's extremely comfortable, well-appointed, and it feels rich and substantial. It also gets up and goes.
The Kia's big 5.0-liter V8 makes 420 horsepower. And that's plenty. Step on the gas and even the stoic and perpetually wooden Jimmie Johnson would be impressed. He might even smile. With teeth.
But drive the Kia, really drive it, and it all goes bad. It's like Kia's engineers never considered that anyone would actually ask the car to perform. Even at a mild pace, the K900 begins to fall apart. Its brake pedal is mushy, its big 19-inch Hankook tires offer little grip, and its 8-speed automatic transmission fails to match revs on manual downshifts.
There's little reason to push further, but you do anyway. Now the steering goes numb and the car reveals its nose-heavy balance with comical amounts of terminal understeer. If you drive off the road in this boat, it will be nose first. Someone at Kia has made sure of it.
It doesn't take long to realize that the big K900 is a very attractive and much cheaper alternative to a BMW 7 Series, a Mercedes S550, or an Audi A8, but only when driven in a very calm and socially-responsible manner. Those other cars, however, like to be driven. Really driven.
Unlike the Kia, they perform well when asked. They're not just large, comfortable and powerful. They're actually fun to drive. They pack a depth of personality based on an even greater range of capability. And the Kia, ultimately, does not.
The head-up display on our long-term 2015 Kia K900 is a nice feature. Like almost every other HUD, it displays your current speed but it also issues small warning images for when someone is in your blind spot. I like this feature because it helps me keep my eyes on the road. I'm all for checking mirrors, but this is a great secondary warning system if someone slips into the next lane without me noticing.
The problem is that I can't see the HUD when wearing my sunglasses.
Polarized sunglasses help cut down on glare, but some HUD and touchscreen displays can't make it through the lenses. The K900 has one of those systems. It's not a deal breaker since the $6,000 VIP Package option includes so many other useful features along with the HUD. But it does mean I need to leave my favorite shades at home if I'm driving the K900 and want to use the head-up display.
I put a few hundred miles on the long-term 2015 Kia K900 in the past few days and it prompted me to leave the following imaginary note inside the K900.
We've spent the last couple of days together, traveled hundreds of miles and I've had a great time. But I'm writing to say that, well, how can I put this delicately? I don't really see a future with you in my life.
I want to point out that this isn't a reflection on you. You've taken me to the far corners of the county in comfort. You've isolated me from the annoying sounds of the outside world and you have just about every option I'd want. But there's something missing.
I'm looking for a car with a bit more prestige. Some people would call me a badge snob, but I can't help it. I never said I was perfect. You make a great first impression on my friends and family, but they all gasp when they find out how much you cost. I could get a moderately optioned Audi A6 diesel for roughly the same $66K. Sure, I'd give up a few options, some rear legroom and the executive seats, but I'd have the sweet four-ring badge and a better resale value to show for it.
Don't take this personally, K900. There are plenty of people out there who will appreciate the value you can bring them. I'm just not one of them.
I wish you all the best,
I've been playing with the tire pressures on our long-term 2015 Kia K900 and I think I found a sweet spot.
Believe it or not, factory spec is a comically low 31 psi (cold) in all four Hankooks. It feels like it. Every time I drive the car I think it feels like the tires are low. So I check, only to find out they're exactly at the factory spec of 31 psi. After 10 months and nearly 15,000 miles, I decided to do something about it. I decided to try some higher pressures to see if the car felt better to me.
First I pumped them all up to 33 psi cold. The car immediately felt better. It had more directional stability and more response with little to no ride degradation. After a few days I went further, pumping them all up to 35 psi cold.
Wrong move. The Kia immediately felt like it had concrete for rolling stock. The ride was crashy and the steering picked up an uncomfortable amount of kickback. Suddenly the car felt crude.
But the problems seemed limited to the front suspension. Things felt good out back. The K900's rear suspension liked the higher pressure. Stability improved and I began to feel a modicum of athleticism in the chassis. So I mixed and matched.
After 100 miles, I went back to the tire gauge and bled the front tires back down to 33 psi cold, but left the rears at 35. Done. The car feels 500 percent better. It still has its luxurious intentions, but it now responds to inputs without the sloshy, disconnected feel it has at the factory spec.
We'll keep an eye on fuel economy and report back.
Over the span of a week, I put about 330 miles on our long-term 2015 Kia K900. I drove it to and from work all week, and on the weekend took a 200-mile road trip to visit my mother. We've been critical of the K900's overall ride quality, but the interior is very likeable. I thought I'd show you around.
Here's a short look-around at the K900 interior, highlighting a few of my favorite aspects and a few features that I'm not a big fan of:
Admittedly, I don't fall directly in the demographic for our long-term 2015 Kia K900. No spouse, no kids, nobody named Bruce Wayne to chauffer around in the back seat. Having driven the K900 for a solid week in various conditions though, I've decided this isn't a car I could live with in Los Angeles, or in any city for that matter.
For starters, it's too long. That's just a characteristic of the full-size segment, sure, but even with the 360-degree parking camera, the K900 is difficult to parallel park. It's also got a big turning radius. Whether you're maneuvering through rush-hour traffic or looking for street parking, agility is key. The K900 just doesn't excel there.
In Normal and Eco mode, throttle response lags noticeably and other motorists tend to take advantage of those gaps when the Kia falls behind. Sure, you can switch the K900 to Sport or just mash the throttle everywhere you go, but that probably isn't the most relaxed way to approach a gridlocked freeway on-ramp.
During my week with the K900, I spent about 150 miles driving through the city and 200 miles commuting on the highway. The highway miles were quiet and smooth, with only the occasional bump making its way in to the cabin. But I was alone, away from traffic. In the city, weighed down, the K900 bounces over potholes and broken pavement pretty dramatically. If you're full with a family and luggage for instance, the ride isn't nearly as composed as it should be.
It's a good long-legged cruiser if you're travelling light, but for the city, it's not ideal.
Well, this is awkward. After my farewell letter to the 2015 Kia K900, I was asked to put some miles on it for a short trip to San Francisco. So I told the K900, "I know I've said some hurtful things to you recently, but we're both adults here with a job to do. Let's put the past behind us and be professionals."
I took Interstate 5 both on the way up and back. U.S. Route 101 is more scenic, but would have taken about an hour longer. The trip wasn't for pleasure, so I opted for the shorter drive. Like other awkward moments with an ex, I remembered things I liked and disliked with twinges of regret and relief.
The cabin, for instance, is extremely quiet and creates a peaceful feeling of gliding down the highway. The silence allowed me to hear my podcasts clearly. The head-up display was also clear and easy to read. I found I consulted it far more than the standard gauges. Finally, the 5.0-liter V8 was great on the highway. There was more than enough power and I often found myself backing off the throttle to stay within speed limits.
Then again, although the adaptive cruise control works well enough, it's a bit jerky on the brakes when the car needs to slow down. The recirculation feature on the climate control either didn't work or wasn't strong enough to overpower the infamous dairy farms along I-5 in Central California. Seems like Dan Edmunds experienced this issue as well.
And I'm not a fan of the buttons surrounding the control knob. They're spaced too far apart and never felt intuitive. Take a look at this interior walk-around to see what I'm talking about.
The K900 averaged 23.4 mpg on the way to San Francisco and 23.7 mpg on the way back. The EPA estimate is 23 mpg for the highway so I was right on the money.
It was a quick trip and the K900 was a solid choice. Doesn't change the way I feel about the badge, though.
A road trip to San Francisco and the search for a future long-term vehicle pushed our 2015 Kia K900 slightly over 16,000 miles. According to the service intervals outlined in the manual and the K900's onboard distance-based maintenance minder, we were due for service at 15,900 miles.
We had good experiences with Kia of Cerritos servicing our 2014 Kia Cadenza, so we returned with the K900. I used the dealership's website to schedule an appointment on a Thursday at 10:30 am.
I arrived at 10:00 behind a long line of cars. Several porters were rushing around eager to help customers, but I waited two minutes before one greeted me and gathered the vehicle's VIN and odometer reading. Two minutes later, a service advisor brought me inside to take my contact information.
The 15,000-mile service consisted of an oil change and tire rotation, cabin air filter replacement and a more comprehensive series of inspections than the first service. The estimated completion time was 1 hour and 45 minutes. I elected to wait in the customer waiting room for the service to finish.
At 11:45, the advisor informed me that it would take another 15 minutes to finish the service and wash it. No problem; I wasn't in a hurry to get anywhere. The car was ready to go 20 minutes later.
The service cost nothing, as the 2015 K900 is the only Kia with a complimentary service plan. Up to five visits are covered in the first 3 years or 37,500 miles.
Recently our dear leader finally figured out the right tire pressures for our 2015 Kia K900. Although the car calls for 31 psi all around, he determined through some tinkering that 33 psi front/35 psi rear felt better. Then we took it to the dealer for service.
The tire pressure they chose was surprising (unless you looked at the photo above, in which case it won't be surprising at all).
39 psi in our garage. 41 psi in the garage where I park at home (ignore that 38 psi number; I started bleeding that tire before my brain said "Dude, take a photo!") This for a car that calls for 31 psi all around on its door-jamb sticker.
I double-checked the work order to make sure that checking/adjusting tire pressure was included in the free service and indeed it was. The paperwork says they set it to 33 psi, however. That isn't what the door sticker calls for, nor what we'd set it to ourselves. It also wasn't 39 psi which is, as far as we can tell, completely random.
Five minutes of crouching with a tire pressure gauge equipped with a bleeder valve fixed everything.
One thing our 2015 Kia K900 has in common with Microsoft Windows? They both play a little theme when you turn them on and off.
The K900 has a bit more theater in its startup, but the chime still reminds me of booting up a PC. Longtime Windows users can recall how its boot sounds have changed with each version. It began with a short trumpet blast in 3.1 that evolved into a THX-wannabe in 1998, taking itself ever more seriously with each update. It's matured recently; thankfully, the latest iteration is modest and brief.
To my ears, the K900's theme falls on the middle-to-late part of that Windows theme timeline. It's still self-serious, but not so long it's laughable.
I like most of the startup theater, like how the mirrors unfold when you approach the car and how the digital tachometer and speedometer swoop in with their own little flourishes. Most of this process became invisible during my weekend with the car.
But that startup chime? The only thing it adds to the experience is an eye roll. It may sound nice in the dealership, but I wonder how owners will feel about it after about four years.
Another month, another 144 gallons of fuel streamed through our 2015 Kia K900. How many miles did that yield? Closest guess without going over wins absolutely nothing!
If you guessed 2733.9 miles, you'd be wrong. The correct distance is 2733.7.
During May we road-tripped the K900 to San Francisco and San Diego, which gave us some nice, above-20-mpg tanks. Then I took it for a few days, which resulted in a sweet 14.7-mpg tank that sucked up 17.43 gallons. Half-a-gallon more and I would've had the record.
In May, Ron broke it off with the K900 (then had an awkward follow-up), the boss dialed in ideal tire pressures, and we reinforced our opinions that the car's ride quality and driving character aren't sophisticated enough to really compete among executive-class sedans.
Worst Fill MPG: 12.1
Best Fill MPG: 25.3
Average Lifetime MPG: 18.1
EPA MPG Rating: 18 Combined (15 City/23 Highway)
Best Range: 414.2 miles
Current Odometer: 13,921 miles
Someone at Kia took this shifter seriously. It might not look fancy, but this dust-covered gearlever feels terrific. It's such that you might switch our 2015 Kia K900 to manual mode just for an excuse to keep your hand on it. I did.
The dust? You can thank the piano black trim. The design is becoming more and more popular in luxury cars, and I don't understand why. No matter if it's Mercedes-Benz or this Hyundai, piano black trim seems to take glee in attracting and showing off dust, fingerprints, and scratches.
Cadillac is the biggest offender. The piano black instrument panel it uses across most models is almost entirely touch-sensitive. This guarantees you'll have a dusty, fingerprint-covered interior after just a little bit of use.
Fortunately, the K900 has buttons of a different material, so they don't show oily smudges. The dust remains though, and the only solution I can think of is keeping some kind of microfiber cloth handy for weekly wipe downs.
Also, while digging through the owner's manual recently, two pages came unglued from the spine. It's a little thing, and one that feels silly to complain about, but I took it as a reminder that this isn't a German luxury car.
There are a handful of differences between the entry-level 2015 Kia K900 Premium, and the K900 Luxury model in our test fleet. Besides adding a standard blind-spot monitoring system, a rear cross-traffic alert system, and a lane departure warning system, moving up to the Luxury trim exchanges High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights for state-of-the-art LED lamps, with all of its tiny, penetrating bulbs.
Despite the lamp differences, both trims include Dynamic Bending Light (DBL), allowing light beams to swivel into upcoming turns to improve cornering visibility. This is one of those features that has become ubiquitous among the big-dollar sedans, a nifty technology that simultaneously bridges the safety, performance and prestige concerns of buyers in this class.
Doesn't matter which 2015 Kia K900 sedan you choose, Premium or Luxury trim, they both come standard with a glorious 40-inch panoramic sunroof with a power-retractable sunshade.
With the shade open on sunny days, all passengers are bathed in warm light. Open the glass, and the K900 gets you awfully close to open-air motoring.
Very pleasant, indeed.
I agree that it's very convenient to have a visual warning appear in the head-up display when a vehicle enters your blind-spot. But what I cannot stand is the audio alert that goes along with it.
BEEP, BEEP! BEEP, BEEP! BEEP, BEEP!
I know it's meant to prevent drivers from sideswiping an approaching car, but the loud blare scares the bejeezus out of me, even when I know it's coming.
Most times, I turn it off.
Our long-term 2015 Kia K900 received its second, and most recent, service at 16,000 miles. The 15,000-mile scheduled service consisted of an oil change and tire rotation, cabin air filter replacement and a more comprehensive series of inspections than the first service.
That was only 2,000 miles ago. So I was surprised when I checked the Kia's oil level and found it was a quart low.
Having just returned from a road trip from L.A. to Phoenix and back in the K900, I was gassing up at my local 76 station when I decided to yank its dipstick and see what was what.
The big V8 was a quart low, so I walked into the station's store hoping they would have a quart of the 5W-20 oil that Kia recommends. They did. Castrol. I dropped it on the counter and pulled out my cash. The clerk banged a few keys on the register.
"That'll be $8.50," he said.
"$8.50," he repeated.
I couldn't believe it: $8.50 for a quart of conventional oil. I told him to forget it, put it back on the shelf, and drove across the street to the Shell station. In that convenience store they also had a quart of Shell's own 5W-20. I asked the clerk, "How much is this?"
"$3.89," he shot back.
If you want great air conditioning buy a Kia K900.
I'm serious. If there's one thing I never joke about, it's air conditioning.
I just drove our long-term 2015 Kia K900 from Santa Monica to Phoenix and back. During a heat wave. In June. After the first 70 miles, temps exceeded 105 degrees and stayed there for the duration of the five-day trip, peaking at 117 degrees (indicated on the Kia's instrument cluster) near the California Arizona border.
You would expect any modern car to deal with these conditions, but the Kia's climate control system dealt with the extreme heat better than many. Not once in five days and 900 miles of driving did I have to turn up the fan or turn down the temperature. Not once.
The A/C just did its job perfectly, keeping the inside of the car at a perfect 70 degrees the entire time.
I was also impressed with how quickly the system blows cold after firing up the car for the first time, and how well it compensated for the sun baking one side of the car or the other. Most impressive is how quickly it cools down the sedan's large interior after it has heat-soaked in the sun for hours.
Climbing into the Kia, we would quickly forget we were in downtown Phoenix in 112-degree heat. Once in the car, I never heard my kids complain that they were hot. Factor in the system's simple controls and quiet operation and you've got one of the finest air-conditioning systems I've experienced.
And now, 11 months and 18,000 miles into the loan, I just found out it has a cool sport-specific mode.
The K900 has a couple of settings for its digital display. There's a normal one pictured above and there's a retro-theme which you can see here. Then there's a third one that's in a different menu. Instead of being in the "themes" category, it's right there in the top-level "Display" category. This one just says "Auto Theme Change."
Click this button and every time you hit the sport button (which is necessary to get tolerable throttle response), the dash does this!
Note the big speedo and the reverse-sweep tach and the fact that it's all red. I dig it. I'm leaving this thing turned on.
To answer your question in advance, yes, I leave the display to show the tire pressure all the time. What else would I possibly need?
Our year with our long-term 2015 Kia K900 is almost kaput. Just two weeks to go. We'll soon return it to Kia and introduce its replacement, a brand new Kia Sedona minivan.
My kids are vibrating. As much as they enjoy riding in the back of our large and luxurious K900, the Sedona has become a favorite due to its First Class Lounge Seating. It's like kid heaven back there in the Sedona's second row and the Oldham girls have been looking forward to it all summer.
Whatever. I dig the K900 and a recent 900-mile road trip from Santa Monica to Phoenix and back, during a heat wave in June, has solidified my lust for the big V8-powered, rear-wheel drive sedan.
The run to Phoenix and back was made for the K900. It cruises down the super slab as well as any European or full-size American, swallowing entire states with little effort and demanding even less from its occupants.
Relaxed. Comfortable. Quiet.
But the big Kia can rock when it's kicked. Kia can make a V8 with the best of them. And the K900's 5.0-liter double-overhead cammer is one for the ages. The naturally-aspirated engine doesn't pack the ultimate punch of its turbocharged German competition, but it's plenty stout.
Bottom-end torque is abundant, but the best part is the upper rpm passing power. Nail it at 70 mph and the Kia's 8-speed automatic quickly gives you a few downshifts and that big V8 yanks this big sedan around that 18-wheeler and into the triple digits. There's just enough V8 rumble to make it audibly interesting and the 8-speed clicks off full-throttle upshifts just shy of 7,000 rpm. Real car-guy stuff.
Obviously I wasn't exactly hyper-miling on the interstate and I always (ALWAYS!) drive this car in Sport mode. Still, I averaged 19.7 mpg for the trip, which included about 75 miles of city driving in both Los Angeles and Phoenix. The Kia is rated by the EPA at 23 mpg highway, 15 mpg city and 18 combined.
If anything is true about the 2015 Kia K900, it's that Kia's first foray into the luxury sedan market is a smoking good deal. Our long-termer is in top-tier Luxury trim with the $6,000 VIP Package, the only available option. At $66,400, the car is loaded with niceties such as adaptive cruise control, a 360-degree parking camera, LED adaptive headlights and outboard heated and ventilated seats. So far, the K900 checks all the major boxes a buyer could want in an executive sedan.
But K900 sales are a fraction of the segment's leaders. Consider the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, which sells 14 units to every one K900. The S-Class starts at $95,325, a considerable amount more than the K900 before the Merc's substantial options list comes into play.
We recently tested a new S550 and I took a moment to reflect on the differences between two cars that, on paper, serve the same purpose.
At $128,935, the 2015 Mercedes-Benz S550 4MATIC is nearly twice the price of the K900. Its twin-turbo 4.7-liter V8 makes 449 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. The K900's naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 is good for 420hp and 376 pound-feet. Although we didn't test the performance of this particular all-wheel drive S550, a previous rear-drive version made the sprint from 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds. It took our K900 5.7 seconds to travel the same distance.
More impressive than the Merc's raw performance numbers is its interior. Not content with the standard leather seats, our tester wears ultra-buttery Nappa leather ($4,450). The seats are so soft and comforting that moving to the K900's seats feels like you've folded into the Mustang's Recaros.
The ride in the S550 is controlled and stable. The body exhibits none of the floating and bobbing characteristics we've noticed in the K900. The Magic Body Control option available in rear-wheel drive models causes the S550 to glide over crunchy road surfaces with almost no imperfections transmitted to the driver.
Then there are the toys. Like the K900, the S550 has a head-up display ($900), 360-degree camera ($900), and heated and ventilated outboard seats. The S550 also has a multitude of features not available on the K900, including a night vision display, four-zone climate control, rear seat headrest pillows and semi-autonomous driving features.
On the outside, these are similar cars. Scrutinize the details, and you'll appreciate the decades of experience in building luxury sedans that Mercedes brings to the table. You'll also understand why Kia can offer the K900 at such an affordable price. In the K900, the rear seat sunshades are manually operated, the same kind you'll find in a mid-tier Sorento. The S550 has power shades.
Use the rear seat adjustment in the K900 and you will find the button that controls the seat recline also controls the seat bottom adjustment and vice-versa. Two buttons for the same thing. In the S550, the back rest and seat bottom operate independently. The passenger in the rear right position also has a deployable footrest. The K900 has large doors with three opening detents to keep the doors in place. The S550 has a seemingly infinite number. Just stop opening the door and that's where the door stays.
So while Kia gets the basics of an executive sedan right with the K900, it clearly does not compete with a feature-heavy vehicle like the S-Class or its rivals. What the K900 does represent is a hell of a bargain, and the revised VIP Package (now called VIP Plus) adds quilted seats, adjustable rear headrests and a switch that moves the front passenger seat away from the rear passenger.
The K900 has the makings of a solid large sedan. And if Kia can sort out the K900's suspension issues, it will drive more like one, too.
The 2015 Kia K900 was our second go-around with a luxury product from the greater Hyundai works, picking up where we left off with a 2011 Hyundai Equus. We thought the K900 would make an interesting case study: will Americans pay outsize luxury money for a big sedan from an automaker better known for sporty and quirky character? We had a year to gain some insight.
Our verdict? The K900 is legit.
With a strong V8, smooth-shifting transmission, a very quiet cabin, and loads of features — heated and cooled reclining rear seats among them — the K900 surprises with its competence and luxury presentation. Our only primary and consistent gripe was with the suspension, which felt overly soft and simply too unrefined for a car playing for keeps among BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus competitors.
Overall, we enjoyed our time with the K900. It wasn't all things to all of us, but as an initial halo car from an automaker you wouldn't think has any business in this class, the K900 impressed. Here's our breakdown of spending 20,000 miles with it.
What We Got
When the 2015 Kia K900 luxury sedan arrived in the U.S. it was a huge step for the Korean automaker. It had never sold a car so large, expensive and luxurious. This was a test not only of the car, but of the Kia brand itself.
For us, however, there was something familiar about it. As a sibling of the long-term 2011 Hyundai Equus we tested a few years back, there were numerous similarities. Still, the K900 was different enough to warrant a serious look.
We ordered our car from Kia in "Luxury" trim, the upgrade over the Premium trim. Both featured standard rear-wheel drive, a 420-horsepower 5.0-liter V8 engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission. A long list of comfort- and technology-related amenities filled the standard equipment list, even on the $54,500 entry-level Premium trim. Still we opted for the uplevel variant to test as much as the K900 had to offer.
Standard features were extensive on our K900 Luxury. Blind spot detection, cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, three-zone climate control, front and rear cameras, dynamic LED headlights and more were included in the $59,500 base MSRP. We added the VIP package for $6,000. For the price we added adaptive cruise control, a 12.3-inch LCD instrument cluster, head-up display and power reclining rear seats, to name a few. Total MSRP for our 2015 Kia K900 Luxury was $66,400.
That's a serious sticker for a Kia, so we were curious to see if it could possibly live up to the price. Here's a glimpse at how it fared.
"And so it was with the soft and low-riding K900, which made frequent contact with its rear bump stops throughout the trip. The feeling was more restrained and progressive than the sharp thumps we experienced on the same route in the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited last year, but that didn't make it much easier to ignore." — Dan Edmunds
"In comparison to other European flagship sedans with V8 engines (typically turbocharged), the K900 could be viewed as being slow.... But in my experience, the K900 still feels plenty strong in real-world driving." — Brent Romans
"The final homeward leg was all freeway, beginning in San Luis Obispo and ending at the Shell station around the corner from my house. Going with the flow of traffic, those 238 miles slid serenely past at 25.3 mpg. This outing made it clear that the K900 can meet and even exceed its highway fuel economy rating without too much trouble." — Dan Edmunds
"I also like that this engine is predictable in its efficiency. The EPA says it should deliver 18 mpg in combined driving, and that's exactly what we're getting. It's not necessarily a great number on its own, but it's rare for any car in our fleet to get its rated mileage, let alone nail it exactly." — Ed Hellwig
"The K900 glides down the road with ease. This is a one-hand-on-the-wheel type of car. It is also unapologetically designed to be comfortable. You can't get an air or adjustable suspension on it, so either you like the suspension tuning or you don't. The driver seat is wide and, lacking major or adjustable lateral side bolsters, is easy to slide in and out of." — Brent Romans
"On the positive side of the K900's ledger, it is especially quiet. Road, wind and engine noise have been virtually banished. And its wide, comprehensively padded seat is road trip-friendly, complete with heaters and coolers. It has extendable thigh bolsters, too; always a plus." — Jason Kavanagh
"Officially, there's 15.9 cubic feet of space. That's not the biggest number you'll find on a luxury sedan, but the K900 makes good use of its space. There are no odd intrusions from the suspension or the trunk lid supports. It also has a wide opening with a reasonable liftover height. I've tossed two full-size suitcases in without any trouble. And those suitcases fit lengthwise with room to spare." — Ed Hellwig
"The crate in question was a size Large meant for 71-90-pound dogs. The website listed its long dimension at 42 inches (a.k.a. 3.5 feet). But I didn't need to know that to realize it was too big to go in crossways. Lengthwise was my only choice.... It just barely fit, though, snugged in between the trunk sill and the backseat. The trunk floor measures 43 inches long, but there was less to work with because of the way the thickness of the crate interacted with the sloping seatback." — Dan Edmunds
"Backseat passengers have no reason to complain in the K900. Not only do they get their own set of seat adjustments, climate controls and a nifty set of window shades, they also get plenty of space in every direction.... More than just space, the K900 offers genuinely comfortable seats. They have plenty of contouring to them and they're also heated and cooled.... There aren't too many features the backseat of this K900 doesn't offer." — Ed Hellwig
"A construction project has turned traffic into a mental meltdown. Drivers are raging through intersections. Horns blare and tempers go rabid. On-ramps close, then magically reopen, offering hope. But it's a trap, leading into a dead-end clump of unmoving cars.... My colleague Jason Kavanagh described the K900 as a 'big, soft quiet car,' not in a good way. He's right in saying that it's not a driver's car. But I needed roadway coddling yesterday, and that's just what I got." — Carroll Lachnit
Audio and Technology
"It's pretty easy to get jazzed about something with 17 speakers and a 900-watt amplifier. Kind of like your own rolling Best Buy audio demo room.... With all this audio firepower, you'd expect the K900 to sound pretty awesome. I don't think it will disappoint.... I've played a variety of music from my iPod and it all sounded great. Even the normally low-fidelity quality of satellite radio seems to sound a tad better in the K900." — Brent Romans
"Although the adaptive cruise control works well enough, it's a bit jerky on the brakes when the car needs to slow down.... And I'm not a fan of the buttons surrounding the control knob. They're spaced too far apart and never felt intuitive. Take a look at this interior walk-around to see what I'm talking about." — Ronald Montoya
"The 15,000-mile service consisted of an oil change and tire rotation, cabin air filter replacement and a more comprehensive series of inspections than the first service. The estimated completion time was 1 hour and 45 minutes.... The service cost nothing, as the 2015 K900 is the only Kia with a complimentary service plan. Up to five visits are covered in the first three years or 37,500 miles." — Cameron Rogers
"I double-checked the work order to make sure that checking/adjusting tire pressure was included in the free service, and indeed it was. The paperwork says they set it to 33 psi. However, that isn't what the door sticker calls for, nor what we'd set it to ourselves. It also wasn't (the displayed) 39 psi which is, as far as we can tell, completely random. Five minutes of crouching with a tire pressure gauge equipped with a bleeder valve fixed everything." — Mike Magrath
"I'll say this, though: The K900 is quiet. Very quiet. It's a big, soft, quiet car. Drivers need not apply." — Jason Kavanagh
"I had already been using the K900's adaptive cruise control to keep me from going too fast on the long highway stretches. When I hit the fog, it helped relieve a little bit of the tension as the radar cut through the soup and slowed me down before I even spotted a vehicle. The vehicle, a white big rig with its lights off (seriously), wasn't visible until I moved over into the left lane and slowly crept up on it." — Mark Takahashi
Maintenance & Repairs
The K900 called for routine service at 7,500-mile intervals. Scheduled maintenance is complimentary over the first three years/37,500 miles or up to five visits. So we didn't pay a thing at 7,500 miles or at 15,000 miles.
No recalls or TSBs occurred during our test.
Fuel Economy and Resale Value
Observed Fuel Economy:
EPA estimates for the K900 were 18 mpg combined (15 city/23 highway). We averaged just that, 18.1 mpg. Our best single tank was 25.3 mpg and our best single-tank range was 414 miles.
Resale and Depreciation:
Our K900 Luxury arrived with an MSRP of $66,400. After one year and 20,275 miles, Edmunds' TMV® Calculator valued the sedan at $53,589 based on a private-party sale. This equated to impressive 19 percent depreciation.
Pros: Powerful engine, smooth-shifting transmission, exceptionally comfortable seating front and rear, quiet cabin at any speed, exceptional reliability, easy-to-use navigation system, delivers rated mileage, free scheduled maintenance.
Cons: Overly soft suspension feels too unrefined for a luxury car, very little steering feel.
Bottom Line: If the sloppy suspension doesn't bother you, then the rest of this car will surprise you with its competence. This is a legitimate luxury sedan that offers the quality, comfort and performance of its competitors at a much more reasonable price.
|Total Body Repair Costs:||None|
|Total Routine Maintenance Costs:||None (over 12 months)|
|Additional Maintenance Costs:||None|
|Scheduled Dealer Visits:||2|
|Unscheduled Dealer Visits:||None|
|Days Out of Service:||None|
|Breakdowns Stranding Driver:||None|
|Best Fuel Economy:||25.3 mpg|
|Worst Fuel Economy:||12.1 mpg|
|Average Fuel Economy:||18.1 mpg|
|True Market Value at service end:||$53,589 (private-party sale)|
|Depreciation:||$12,811 (19% of original MSRP)|
|Final Odometer Reading:||20,275 miles|
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.