2017 Kia K900 Luxury V6: Big luxury, small(ish) price.
Price: $60,850 as tested (the base price for the trim level is $54,900). A $5,000 VIP Package offered just about everything worthwhile, from safety to luxury to convenience.
Marketer’s pitch: “Challenge the luxury you know.”
Conventional wisdom: Car and Driver says, “The K900 is a muscular four-door stuffed with leather, wood trim, and electronic amusements all as standard … The steering is numb and the suspension is soft.”
Reality: Lots of stuff, but not really worth it.
Lap of luxury: The K900 is in its fourth year as the ultimate luxury vehicle from the Korean carmaker, carrying over from the 2016 model. The sedan aims against the likes of the Lexus GS350 and Infiniti Q70. There’s even a silver-dial clock without numbers, the hallmark of automotive fancy.
Up to speed: The 311-horsepower 3.8-liter V-6 engine offers plenty of power. Getting up to highway speeds is a breeze, and passing is never an issue. A 420-horsepower V-8 option is also available, and it certainly was a barn-burner in the 2015 model I tested, but the V-6 is no slouch at all.
Shifty: The eight-speed automatic with manual shiftability and a BMW-style shifter was smooth and quiet. I found shifting offered no real benefit or fun. The transmission drives the rear wheels; an all-wheel-drive option is surprisingly not available on this model.
On the curves: As in 2015, country roads again are no real treat in the K900. Lots of lean and body roll mean braking is the most important part of handling curves.
Driver’s Seat: This moves in hundreds of different positions, as one would expect, all from thoughtfully designed switches on the door. But shorter drivers may long for a height adjustment; I wished it could have moved up a notch or two myself, and I’m just your average 5-foot-10 Mr. Driver’s Seat. Otherwise, comfort was the order of the day. A day featuring about seven hours of driving left me no more irritable than usual, reports the Lovely Mrs. Passenger Seat – mixed emotions.
Friends and stuff: The rear seat is designed for chauffeuring. It offers plenty of legroom and the ability to recline, á la United Airlines. Headroom is also generous, and sitting three across is not too bad (except how high the middle seat sits). Foot room is one downside. Six-foot-one Sturgis Kid 4.0 noted that his size 13 clodhoppers did not fit under the front seat while trying to stretch out in back. Even Mr. Driver’s Seat’s puny size 11s were not sliding under there; no shoes will fit at all. Power reclining and heated and ventilated rear seats (part of the $5,000 option package) didn’t seem to compensate for the footroom deficit. The trunk offers 15.9 cubic feet of space, a surprise, as it seems so much larger.
Play some tunes: The stereo controls feature a touchscreen and console-mounted dial controls, with volume and tuning knobs as well, so something for everybody. Getting around can be difficult. The sound is about a B-plus, not much different from the Lovely Mrs. Passenger Seat’s Kia Soul’s premium system.
Night shift: The bending HID headlights led the vehicle through curves but aimed a little low; perhaps a lack of seat-raising ability is a bonus after all. The interior lights provided a soft glow that never interfered with the view of the roads.
Keeping speed: I’ve had lots of experience with automatic cruise control systems, and I’ve grown to appreciate having the car automatically slow down behind other vehicles. The K900, though, seemed more apt to pick up vehicles in other lanes on curves than most cars I’ve driven. If this is a trigger, you may want to check it out.
Shaky: The K900 also had the strangest warm-up issue. Before I had the vehicle up to temperature, it always felt shaky – not from the engine, but it felt like the tires were an issue. I even stopped to check the air one time to be certain, but stupidly didn’t note the brand of tires on the car.
Fuel economy: The K900 averaged around 20 mpg while I stayed in the usual suburban and urban confines of my daily routine; that raised to 23 on a long trip across Pennsylvania. Premium is recommended, but I fed it the disease-laden 87 octane with no issues.
Where it’s built: Sohari, South Korea.
How it’s built: Consumer Reports predicts the 2017 model will have middling reliability levels.
In the end: It’s a pleasant cruiser and nice company, and a real bargain over the premium brands, if you consider the K900 to be a competitor. Perhaps Kia will offshoot a luxury brand, á la Hyundai and Genesis, and it’ll feel more like it’s worthwhile. The extra hundred horses in the V-8 did feel like a lot more fun two years ago as well.