2015 Kia K900: Road Trip Composure, or Lack Thereof
March 17, 2015
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.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor