REVIEW: Kia K900 – Impressive Underdog

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We’ve all aspired to higher places in life, and that’s what Kia is doing with the K900 and its traditional luxury values.


It doesn’t take a lot to be impressed by Kia these days. Just when you’re done thinking that it is a breakthrough company, then on along comes another impressive product, one that redefines the space it is in.

In this case with the K900 and its luxury-sedan segment,  the K900 does not sit with the top tier. But the K900 redefines its space by presenting a compelling case on its own, if you happen to like what it presents.

That’s the beauty of the K900: you don’t have to be an adherent to the generally German-defined luxury car to appreciate it.

In the case of the K900, you’d be appreciating a softly-suspended car that wobbles a bit in corners but still delivers compelling thrust, along with extreme comfort.


No doubt, Kia has its work cut out for it selling the K900. Kia’s brand equity was first wrapped up in selling economy cars that undercut Chevrolet for the bargain-basement dollar.

But of course whose image is also up for grabs is august Cadillac, which fronts imagery of New York almost equally with its product. So, anything is possible for luxury buyers, if you’re looking for something outside the Mercedes-Benz/BMW/Audi triumvirate.

The K900 deserves a drive if you’re in this segment. At once it is surprising and still something very familiar.

It’s OK if you’re a skeptic; we were too. We were there at the LA Auto Show in the early 2000s where the Kia presenter gave a seemingly half-drunk speech that apologized for the debuting Rio Cinco wagon on the floor.

At least we hoped he was imbibed. I and the journalists around me couldn’t believe he was being so deferential about the product he was hired to shill. We chuckled in awkward supportive unison.

He’s long gone, but  it seemed apparent to him that the car being presented needed an apology.

The K900 needs none of that. It is a true luxury car, and a luxury car is all about the details. Like this mirror surround: it wraps around the mirror mount with chromed suppleness.


Check out the mirror detail, which presents on the side with wraparound U-shape lighting – it’s imaginative and deluxe. You wouldn’t have thought of it, but here it is.


Imagination is the mark of the up-and-comer, and the K900 does its best to wow you with those details. Like the Jaguar-like cross-tined grille, which points forth like it knows where it’s going.


The K900 is based on the Hyundai Equus, which is defined by its soft suspension. The K900 has it too – that floaty line it carves through the world can feel deliciously luxurious.

With the K900, you’ve buckled into a cruise ship that will sometime have passengers reaching for Dramamine. But mostly, it will satisfy the hedonist in all.

The engine is a 420-horsepower V8 that will make the K900 scrabble for traction around town; it really comes into its own on the freeway, letting you pass pretty much whomever you want. The rumble it emits is most welcome to muscle-car fans.


Again, the suspension is soft. There’s a Sport mode, but it’s all about the engine, where it sharpens throttle tip-in. The K900 is gooshy, which can be a good or bad thing,

It’s good because it is comfortable, and it might be bad because the K900’s performance envelope is limited by the constant reaction of the body to what’s happening with the wheels. That’s what happens with a softy like this – it’s indulgent in the moment but is less than present when things get real.

But how often do things get real? And besides, there are amassed an array of technological controls to get you out of whatever. The K900 encourages you to lean back and enjoy the ride.


Inside, the K900 is just about luxury-car pure. Wood-trimmed stitched steering wheel, virtual gauges, giant center screen, wraparound dash-door-panel relationship – it is hard to argue with what this one presents.


As a symbol of how featured the K900 is, its exterior mirror is loaded with gizmos. Lane depature warning, heated defrost, auto dim – much of K900 is like this.


Up to you if you want to risk it with an untried brand at this price point. The K900 won’t disappoint, if you know what you’re in for.

The K900 is not a great car, but it is one that you might come to like very much.


Tell us in the comments – what do YOU think of the K900?

2015 Kia K900 With VIP Plus Package

Base Price:  $60,400

Price as Tested: $69,300

VIP Plus Package: $8,000

Surround View Monitor

Advanced Smart Cruise Control (ASCC)

Full Meter Display, 12.3″ Supervision Thin Film Transistor (TFT) LCD

Head-Up Display (HUD)


Destination Charge: $900


Soft ride

Luxurious touches

Bold styling


Languid handling

Off-brand luxury