2015 Car of the Year | No. 12: Kia K900
A dark horse delivers a surprisingly smooth ride
The K900 earned a dubious distinction in Napa: Not since the Morgan 3 Wheeler participated in the 2013 Car of the Year competition have so many judges questioned an automobile’s presence at the event. Before even settling into its fully appointed leather interior, many participants dismissed the sedan because of its modest price and non-European origin. But our more open-minded judges welcomed the opportunity to drive Kia’s most opulent offering, eager to experience the Korean carmaker’s take on luxury.
Viewed objectively, without any badging bias, the K900’s amenities and performance rival those of the big sedans from Audi, Jaguar Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, and BMW—automobiles that cost as much as twice the $54,500 base price of the K900, which comes with a 10-year power-train warranty. The Kia also looks right at home when parked next to the latest Euro-luxury crop. Its tasteful shape reflects the aesthetic of Kia’s design chief, Peter Schreyer, who worked at Audi for more than 25 years before joining Kia in 2006. He is perhaps best known for his landmark styling of the Audi TT.
The K900 is powered by a 5-liter V-8 that produces a healthy 420 hp and performs beautifully in tandem with the smooth 8-speed transmission. As our judges discovered, the car’s fit and finish—including panel gaps, paint quality, and interior stitching—is on a par with those of the European iron. Drivers savvy enough to look beyond the hood emblem will be pleasantly surprised by this unheralded addition to the luxury-sedan segment.
CONFIGURATION: Front-engine, rear-wheel drive, sedan
ENGINE: 5-liter V-8
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic
POWER: 420 hp at 6,400 rpm
TORQUE: 376 ft lbs at 5,000 rpm
CURB WEIGHT: 4,555 pounds
ZERO-TO-60 MPH: 5.5 seconds
TOP SPEED: 150 mph
BASE PRICE: $54,500