2016 Kia K900
The 2016 Kia K900 is one of the world's most affordable premium sedans.
The K900 rear-drive sedan is Kia's answer to the premium car market, which has gone a little crazy with pricing--especially when costly luxury options are ordered.
That's not the case with the K900. It offers most of the stuff costlier luxo models offer for thousands of dollars less. Moreover, Kia recently was rated the Number One brand in J.D. Power's annual survey of new vehicle quality.
However, many remember when Kia only produced plain, low-priced economy cars. The K900 thus doesn't enter the buying thoughts of a lot of premium car buyers. There are various trim levels, but sales aren't setting any houses on fire.
One problem is that those who know that the K900 is a top-notch premium car feel they won't impress neighbors or associates if they tell them they bought a top-line Kia. Why not a BMW, Mercedes, Audi or Jaguar?
Snob appeal is a big factor when it comes to high-line cars.
"That car looks like a Jaguar," a middle-aged neighbor said when I stopped to show him the car. "But you say it's a Kia?" He sounded more than a little surprised.
But he'd likely end up spending $20,000-$30,000 more for a "name brand" premium car, such as an Audi, BMW or Mercedes. Many other uninformed or status-conscious premium car buyers are likely to do the same.
As for me, I was flat impressed after driving the test K900 during a mix of city and highway driving with the car's new, standard 311-horsepower V-6.
The K900 also offers a carryover 5-liter, 420-horsepower V-8, but the V-6 K900 models cost $49,000 and $54,900, while the V-8 version stickers at $61,900. The V-8 version isn't really needed unless you want really neck-snapping acceleration or do something like mountain driving.
Power is transmitted through a smooth eight-speed automatic transmission with effective paddle shifters.
As for fuel economy, the new, sophisticated V-6 provides an estimated 17 miles per gallon in the city and 26 on highways. The V-8 delivers an estimated 15 and 23.
The city figures are so-so, but not much more should be expected. After all, the fast K900 is a 200-inch-long car with a 120-inch wheelbase that weights 4,376 pounds with the V-6 and 4,610 pounds with the V-8. Still, a 20-gallon fuel tank assures a long highway driving range.
New for 2016 are are a revised grille and rear-end design with updated chrome trim and revised exhaust pipes. There's also a revised taillight design and a new bumper.
New features include a "Smart Power Trunk" that opens the trunk automatically when the key fob is sensed near the trunk lid more than three seconds.
As for safety, the car's front camera and an "Advanced Smart Cruise Control" system adjusts vehicle speed to help maintain a set distance to the vehicle ahead and has the ability to bring the K900 to a full stop.
This isn't a sports sedan, although it has nicely weighted steering, adroit handling and strong brakes. Standard are electronic stability and traction controls, anti-lock brakes and hill-start assist control.
The K900 isn't designed to tackle curving roads at high speeds, but it's a great cruiser for American roads with a suspension that occasionally gets a bit soft over irregular road surfaces.
The V-6 models have 18-inch wheels, while the V8 version has new 19-inch chrome wheels.
There's plenty of room in the quiet, nicely designed upscale interior,which has an improved navigation system with a 9.2-inch touchscreen. The rear seat has almost limo-style roominess. And the trunk is huge.
Then there's the usual premium-car stuff. My test $54,900 K900 Luxury V-6 had a panoramic sunroof with a power shade, three-zone automatic climate control, Lexicon Logic 7 surround sound audio system, pushbutton start, front/rear camera display, front/rear parking sensors, Nappa leather seat and interior trim, wood accent trim, push-button start and power folding auto-dimming outside mirrors.
While sleek, the styling results in rather a high beltline, which is where body sides meet the lower part of the side windows. Some smaller rear occupants may feel somewhat submerged. The driver has a power seat to raise him (or her) and a power tilt/telescopic steering column to further adjust to different body heights.
While my K900 Luxury V-6 was well-equipped, it had a $5,000 VIP Package that contained a head-up display, blind spot detection, lane-departure warning system, advanced Smart Cruise Control and surround view monitor.
You can get a $6,000 VIP Plus package that contains such things as power reclining rear seats, but enough is enough. A major advantage the K900 has over better-known rivals is a lower list price.