Executive wheels: A luxurious bargain

Stunning luxury, but will the name interfere with success?

Jeff Rundles //September 1, 2015//

Executive wheels: A luxurious bargain

Stunning luxury, but will the name interfere with success?

Jeff Rundles //September 1, 2015//

2015 KIA K900 SEDAN

You know that Buick ad where everyone says, “That’s not a Buick”? Well, pretty much everyone who saw my Kia K900 had the same look but were nearly speechless: the exterior of the car looked so luxurious, so refined, that many people looked inside and just said, “Wow!”

This is a large, rear-wheel luxury sedan, a first for Korea-based Kia, and given the company’s reputation for producing more, well, pedestrian fare, Kia had to hit a home run. It did. This is a luxury car, launched in Korea as a 2013 model and here in 2014, and it is much like those offered by Lexus (Toyota’s luxury division), Infiniti (Nissan’s luxury division), and German luxury stalwarts BMW, Mercedes and Audi. Only here you get more and pay less, way less.

The base price on this Luxury trim is $59,900 (there is also a Premium trim basing at $54,500), and that includes many, many standards. But the key here is that this beautiful car comes with an amazing 5.0-liter V8 engine putting out 420 hp. I checked with the competition and found that to get this powerful of an engine, the base price is anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000 more.  

And wow, what an engine. This K900 can flat out scream – it is so smooth that getting to 90 mph feels like buttah ­– and it handles like a dream.

The first thing you notice inside is the absolutely beautiful leather seating. The rear seating in particular is amazing – as roomy as you will find anywhere, as comfortable as I have ever experienced, with power reclining, heat and cooling. Of course, the front seats have these features as well, and I can attest that the seat-cooling feature, with three settings, make these seats unbelievably comfortable, especially in the high humidity. I can only imagine how well they heat up in the cooler weather.

This Kia K900 have every luxury feature you can imagine: Voice activation, Bluetooth, apps, hookups for music streaming, blind spot detection, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert, and navigation (very easy-to-use nav, I might add). But the sound system deserves an extra shout-out. The Lexicon Logic 7 Surround Sound Audio system, which included SiriusXM satellite radio, was especially nice. The car is very quiet, and with fidelity of this quality driving around was like being in a concert hall. There are, apparently, 17 speakers and a 900-watt digital amplifier. Wow!

Above and beyond the base price of $59,900, Kia added a $6,000 VIP package that replaced, upgraded or added to the many standards, including Advanced Smart Cruise Control (where it slows itself to maintain spacing, etc.), a 12.3” full LCD instrument display cluster (standard is 9.2”), heads-up display for speed and nav assistance, a surround view mirror, front seat power headrests, the power and ventilated rear seats, and rear seat lumbar support. There are also rear window sunshades – power for the back windshield and pull-up for the side windows.  All of this, with $900 in destination charges, brought the bottom line to $66,400. Trust me – this is a lot of car for the money compared with the luxury name brands.

Not everything is perfect, of course. While the trunk is large, I thought it could be larger for a car of this size – it would be tough to get four golf bags in there, and our visit included two golf bags and luggage for three people and the trunk couldn’t handle it. Then there’s the front camera. Of course, the vehicle has a rear camera for backup and parking assistance, and I really like vehicles that have a front camera to do a similar job. But his one is clumsily mounted on the front grill – I thought someone had clipped something on there; not very attractive – and the view on the interior screen made it look as though you were looking down a tunnel.   

But there isn’t really much to carp about – I loved the car. I found out later, although I noticed something while driving, that the front windshield and the front side windows utilize a water-repellent hydrophobic coating that helps improve visibility. Yeah, it works.

The biggest problem for this vehicle has nothing to do with the car – it is wonderful. No, the real problem will be to convince people that a $66,000 luxury car can be found in Kia. The competition is either an all-luxury line – BMW, Mercedes, Audi – or a luxury division of the standard line. That Kia is trying to enter the upscale market through its regular nameplate and dealer network is really something of an experiment. It will keep the price down for a time – a good thing for car buyers – but the jury will remain out for quite some time whether Kia can capture the luxury badge cachet enjoyed, for instance, by Lexus.

In the meantime, here’s a highly credible, well-done and full luxury — not to mention gorgeous – vehicle for much less than a comparable Lexus. Plus you get the Kia 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, with a 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and roadside assistance, the best in the business.

If you can overcome the “luxury premium” – essentially paying extra for the name alone – then this Kia K900 is a wonderful driving experience.