By The Car Family
This is no ordinary Kia. This is a car designed to prove that this Korean company can build a car that can compete with the luxury brands at a bargain price and still provide leading-edge technology. After a week evaluating this vehicle it becomes apparent that Kia has built a new King, a flagship that is elegant, loaded with features, and priced in the $60,000 range, undercutting the competition by tens of thousands of dollars, as is Kia’s forte.
The ride is plush, so don’t expect sports car drivers to be impressed with the handling, but a nudge of the accelerator brings out the 420 hp V-8 engine, and that is up to the challenge of most any luxury sedan. Our mixed gas mileage was in the range of 21 mpg thanks to the smooth shifting eight-speed transmission.
We have been testing vehicles for 20 years and this Kia has the best interior lighting of any model to date and that includes Rolls Royce, Bentley and Cadillac. The exterior lighting is superior as well with adaptive 16 LED bulb headlights and LED daytime running lamps. And these aren’t the type that blind oncoming drivers; they provide a soft, almost natural illumination.
Mom’s view: This is a large sedan and still easy to park in a crowded mall parking lot. The interior has a number of redundant steering wheel controls so you can safely change settings without taking your eyes off the road. Our V-8 K900 had white high-grade Nappa leather with contrasting stitching and real walnut trim. The front seats had a myriad of adjustments and were heated and cooled. A welcome surprise is in store for the rear seat passengers with an armrest containing a panel so riders can control their own ventilation and operate the rear window sunshade. Okay, I was a bit smitten by the interior and exterior styling, but it was the safety features that I found most pleasing. Kia’s Advanced Vehicle Safety Management brings together an Electronic Stability Control and a warning system that alerts the driver three ways: an alarm, a visual warning and a cinching of the front seatbelts. There is also a lane-departure warning system, radar-based cruise control, and cameras that surround the car and warn of potential problems. This King Kia is most like the big Lexus LS 460 sedan in acceleration and comfort and ride. Only thousands less. A final note, when you come close to the Kia it senses your arrival and the outside mirrors open up to greet you. So cool.
Dad’s view: The Kia is 17 feet long and that challenges the biggest Jaguars, BMW 7 Series and Lexus LS in this regard. The trunk is enormous, the acceleration linear and strong, and the rear seat spacious. The quiet and capable V-8 engine and the transmission seamless. That being said, the handling is competent, but not inspiring. The fuel range isn’t great, and the comfy sedan could use a bit more steering feel. This is a car that could challenge those taking the proposed high-speed train to the San Francisco area. It is fast, smooth and relaxing. A hundred-mile trip is almost too short for this long-legged runner. The heads-up speedometer display needs to be checked often as the Kia is sneaky fast and goes about its task in silence. You can let the cruise control do the work, even to the point of stopping the car. That pesky mountain pass in your way—would a 0 to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds and 0-100 mph in about 13 seconds Kia V-8 be of assistance? Suspension is all independent with the emphasis on comfort. At present, Kia’s only option is the $6,000 VIP package with heated and ventilated rear seats, an extendable cushion for the driver, a huge monitor, active cruise control and more. Worth it? Well, the total price is still between $10,000 and $50,000 below the competition. Well played, Kia.
Young working woman’s view: It is not unusual to say that a Kia is a bargain, but at $60,000 plus? Well, yes. And for those willing to take the leap of faith, the world-class 10-year/100,000-mile warranty provides a nice landing for those adverse to risk. One caveat is to make sure you spend a few hours with the sales person because the K900 has enough programs to challenge even a 12-year-old. For example, when the blind-spot warning audio alarm goes off it isn’t just a warning, it is a threat. Stay put. Very noteworthy, pun intended.
Young working male’s view: The King Kia is loaded with interesting ideas. Sadly, I found that the GPS on this model was not as good as on the lesser Cadenza as it required the use of a BMW-style control knob instead of a touch screen. There is also a head-up display that is extremely well thought out with speed, directions and vehicle information. Entertainment comes from the 900-watt Lexicon high-fidelity audio system with a 12-channel amplifier, 17 speakers, and an inverted subwoofer. The K900 has Bluetooth, satellite programming, and AUX and USB ports. One clever feature is a Rear Cross Traffic Alert system that provides an audible warning to the driver if oncoming cross traffic is detected while backing. An option is the Surround View Monitor system that provides an image of what is next to the car in all directions. The Kia K900 is a tour de force and one early adopters should put on their list.
Family conference: The Kia K900’s stunning appearance belies its price. It provides elegance, oodles of features and quality attributes. If you are in the financial ballpark this is well worth a test drive. Long live the King.
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