By Joe Bruzek on November 19, 2013
Competes with: Acura RLX, Cadillac XTS, Hyundai Equus
Looks like: A super-sized Kia Cadenza
Drivetrain: 311-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6 or 420-hp, 5.0-liter V-8; eight-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive
Hits dealerships: First quarter 2014
Kia takes a big step toward offering premium vehicles with its rear-wheel-drive K900 full-size luxury sedan. The K900 has many firsts for the Kia brand, including the first V-8 engine, first use of rear-wheel drive in a sedan, first head-up display, and first rear cross-traffic alert and precollision warning systems. Kia says the K900 is the next logical progression for its brand, citing its cars such as the Optima, Sorento and Cadenza that have brought in more affluent customers.
The brand known for value-rich compact cars like the Forte may have taken two steps forward in upping its luxury game with the rear-wheel-drive K900.Pricing for the K900 will be announced closer to the vehicle's on-sale date of early 2014, though we suspect the jump from the Cadenza's starting price of $35,900, including an $800 destination charge, to the K900 could be more substantial than the leap from the $22,300 Optima to the Cadenza.
There are a lot of similarities between the looks of the K900 and Cadenza — introduced less than a year ago — from its headlights and Kia-signature grille to the profile and wheels — the V-8 wears 19-inch chrome wheels. The K900 is sized similar to its Hyundai Equus cousin, riding on the same 119.9-inch wheelbase and sharing track widths of 63.8 inches up front and 64.1 inches out back for the V-8 model.
Kia fully embraces the LED trend on the K900. An onslaught of LED lighting surrounds the K900, including standard adaptive LED headlights on V-8 models with 16 LED bulbs, LED daytime running lights, fog lights, brake lights and turn signals. Even the side mirrors have LED turn indicators.
Standard features for the V-6 include a leather interior with optional higher-end Nappa leather. It's not a proper luxury car without a massive stereo and multimedia system, and the K900 has it with a rotary knob controlling the multimedia system on a 9.2-inch screen. A standard USB input, satellite radio, Bluetooth streaming audio and HD radio all can pipe sound through a 900-watt Lexicon stereo with 17 speakers.
Even before loading up on options, the K900 has a long list of standard features including more LED lighting on the inside, heated and ventilated front seats, heated outboard rear seats, a command center for rear climate controls, power sunshades and a standard power trunk lid, among other options. Premium, Technology and VIP packages rack up the optional features like a head-up display for projecting speed and navigation directions on the windshield, upgraded Nappa leather, heated steering wheel, available authentic wood trim and 16-way power adjustable seats instead of the standard 12-way adjustments. Rear passengers also can benefit from the optional packages with the VIP Package including rear cooled seats that recline.
Under the Hood
Kia's first V-8 is direct injected and makes 420 hp with variable valve timing. Both the V-8 and 311-hp, 3.8-liter V-6 pair with an eight-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. Not content to let the V-8 get all the attention, the smaller of the two engines is Kia's most powerful V-6 and uses unique transmission gearing compared to the V-8.
Kia says the rear-wheel-drive layout encourages spirited driving and 75 percent of the chassis is made from high- and ultra-high tensile-strength steel for extra strength and torsional rigidity. All signs point to the K900 being a heavyweight; we'll have to wait until we test-drive it to report if the K900 executes on its promise of spirited driving.
Advanced safety features are in abundance on the K900 with standard front and rear parking sensors and cameras. Choose optional trim levels or packages and you'll get Kia's first rear cross-traffic alert as well as numerous other advanced safety systems. Cross-traffic alert calls out when a vehicle is approaching from the side while backing out of a parking space and is standard on V-8 models.
Kia also introduces an Advanced Vehicle Safety Management system on the K900 with a precollision warning system to alert drivers of a potential collision through an audible alarm, visual warning and cinching of the safety belts.
Blind spot warning comes on V-8 models and V-6 K900s with the Technology Package, and the available V8 VIP Package equips the sedan with an Around View Monitor that provides a top-down view of the car through multiple cameras placed around the exterior; Infiniti and BMW have their own style of this top-down view, as does the Equus. The list of safety features keeps going with a lane departure warning system on V-8 models and in the V6 Technology Package, plus adaptive cruise control on V6 Technology and V8 VIP Packages.
Road Test Editor Joe Bruzek covers Cars.com’s short-and long-term fleet of test cars and drives a 1998 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. Email Joe