The 2015 KIA K900: Virtue is Bold and Goodness Never Fearful [First Impression Review]

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The 2015 KIA K900 represents a bold step for Korean car company. To go from the cheapest game in town to challenging the likes of Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and BMW – for significantly less – is impressive. How impressive? How about a vehicle that, when fully loaded (MSRP $66,400), rivals the ride, luxury feel, electronic wizardry and overall comfort of the Lexus LS 460.

This is not a negative commentary on the Lexus LS 460, but a statement of amazement at what type of goodness KIA packed into the 2015 KIA K900.

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The 2015 KIA K900 comes standard with a 420 horsepower, 5-liter V8 that makes 376 lbs-ft of torque. A smooth eight-speed automatic connects the power to the real wheels. According to KIA, the 2015 KIA K900 gets 15 mpg city, 23 mpg highway and it gets a combined 18 mpg. Doing a majority of highway driving, I averaged just over 20 mpg.

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Interior comfort and amenities is the name of the game in luxury sedans and the 2015 KIA K900 has both in spades. The front and rear seats are adjustable, heated and cooled with sumptuous leather. The rear passenger has full control over the seat and climate.

Despite a lower-than-expected roof, the front seat is comfortable while affording an excellent view of the road.

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The only notable element about the 2015 KIA K900’s exterior is the front headlights. They look unique. The rest of the vehicle looks like a cross between the Lexus LS 460 and a BMW 7-Series. I think the KIA Cadenza looks better.

The 2015 KIA K900 is over 200″ long and, with the VIP Package weighs in at over 4,600 lbs. The length alone pits it against long-wheelbase versions of the LS 460, Jaguar XJL and Audi A8L among others. The weight, however, is a different story.

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It’s too heavy. The weight makes it slow, ponderous and thirsty. Despite having 420 hp, its high-altitude 0 to 60 mph times averaged around eight seconds. Passing power is okay, but it takes time to spool up the power when you need it. Even in Sport mode, it’s not happy being hustled.

Still, from the inside, everything is serene. You can barely hear the V8 on full boil and the ride is so soft, passengers can easily forgive the slow pace. The driver, on the other hand, has more issues to manage.

The steering is completely numb. There is no feedback and it is poorly weighted. It feels good in hand, but there’s nothing to connect the driver to the front wheels.

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KIA’s UVO infotainment system in the 2015 KIA K900 is its weakest link. This system, similar to iDrive, MMI and SYNC, is supposed to make using tech items like MP3, iPod, cellphone, navigation, climate and driving aids easier. It does not. Like the other systems, the UVO system is controlled via a rotary dial south of the gear lever. Compared to the high-end luxury vehicles in this class, the UVO system is counter intuitive.

It would help if there were an hour briefing in advance, just to learn the basics. A major simplification is needed to make the UVO system competitive. A system like this should be usable within the first 10 minutes of driving. It took me nearly all of the first day just to figure out how to use the satellite presets. No kidding.

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Fortunately, KIA borrowed something exceptional from Nissan/Infiniti: the all-around view parking aid and it works brilliantly. Using cameras on each side of the K900, the image is altered to look like it’s being captured from a bird’s eye perspective. Simply put, it’s like having a 360-degree view of your vehicle from above. It comes in handy when parking such a big car. Simply go from park to drive/reverse or, when entering a parking situation, push the camera icon south of the gear lever and maneuver slowly with accuracy.

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So far, the idea of an affordable luxury car that’s not an entry-level luxury vehicle has seemed far fetched. Despite a few missteps, the 2014 KIA K900 is bold goodness, perfect for those who are not afraid to exploit the virtues of truly affordable luxury.

Do you think they should ditch the name? I do. A detailed review on TFLcar and a mashup on TFL4K is coming soon!

Speaking of comfy KIAs…

Nathan Adlen Bio Picture Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism – Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. His words, good humor and videos are enjoyed worldwide.