2015 Kia K900: What You Get for Twice the Price
August 5, 2015
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.
Cameron Rogers, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 15,600 miles