Testing the Feature-Packed K900’s New V-6 Model
$60,000 USD doesn’t buy what it used to. Drive the 2016 Kia K900 in the newly available V-6 model, and you’ll get way more for your money than first-tier luxury sedans such as the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The K900 is as long as a short-wheelbase Lexus LS 460, yet the Kia starts at just $49,950 USD, so you can go wild with the options list. Although our tester’s power-adjustable, heated, and cooled rear seats didn’t distract us from the car’s shortcomings. Remember, these are shortcomings on a 200.6-inch car. The K900 has the visual presence and interior space that you’ll pay a hefty premium for at other automakers. We spent time with the 311-hp K900 V-6 to answer the $60,850 USD question: Does it make sense to pay that much for a Kia instead of the many alternatives?
When you’re tired of $50,000 USD luxury sedans charging extra for a rearview camera or heated front seats, the K900 will prove refreshing. Our loaded K900 V-6 Luxury with the VIP package includes an extremely helpful and easy-to-use multicamera parking system, a color head-up display, heated and cooled power-reclining rear seats with power lumbar support, adaptive cruise control with a collision mitigation system that can apply the brakes if necessary, soft-closing doors, a suede headliner, a panoramic sunroof, HID headlights that turn around corners, rear-seat controls for the rear climate, and a rear-seat button to move the front passenger seat forward. Invite a friend into the K900’s rear seat then tell them they’re sitting in a Kia, and the car will have accomplished its mission: bursting old stereotypes some still have about the brand.
Kia saves a few things for the 420-hp V-8 K900 like the one I spent a year driving, such as 19-inch chrome wheels instead of the 18-inch alloys on the V-6, LED headlights instead of the HIDs that performed just fine on our tester, a digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster that looks similar to the V-6 car’s conventional gauges, and a couple other minor differences. Aside from the 19-inch wheels that fill out the wheelwells better and the option of quilted seats, the V-6 versus V-8 differences don’t seem significant, but that changes at the track.
The 4,430-pound K900 V-6 hit 60 mph in 6.4 seconds, up from K900 V-8s we’ve tested at 5.5-5.6 seconds. But because the K900’s body motions aren’t well controlled, even the V-6 model at wide-open throttle feels exciting, as the nose lifts and the well-tuned eight-speed automatic figures out what you want. As with our V-8 long-termer, the V-6 model could use revised suspension tuning to help cope with sudden changes of road height or surface quality.
Although a 3.3-liter, twin-turbo V-6 from the 2017 Genesis G90 sedan might be in the K900’s future with an estimated 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque compared to the naturally aspirated 3.8-liter’s 311 hp and 293 lb-ft, for now we’ll appreciate the linear power deliver of the naturally aspirated 3.8. Yes, I missed the K900 V-8’s extra power while driving the V-6, but the eight-cylinder model is slower and less efficient than other full-size sedans. Unfortunately, the same is true with the K900 V-6; some competitors offer six-cylinder options that are simultaneously quicker and more efficient. The K900’s six does offer better fuel efficiency than the eight, which is important if you’d rather spend more time getting from point A to B than stopping at gas stations. In Motor Trend-exclusive Real MPG testing that simulates real-world driving on a dedicated test loop with help from a $150,000 USD gas analyzer, the K900 V-6 performed well. Compared to EPA ratings of 17/26 mpg city/highway (or 25 mpg (9.4 L/100km) highway in stricter 2017 tests), the 2016 K900 V-6 hit 17.8/27.9 (13.2/8.4 L/100km) Real MPG. Compared to the 2015 V-8’s 14.7/24.6 (16/9.6 L/100km) Real MPG test ratings, that’s a notable improvement when you consider both cars use the same 19.8-gallon fuel tank.
Around the figure-eight course, the K900 V-6 actually outpaced the three K900 V-8 figure-eight performances we have, with a 26.9-second time at 0.64 g (average) compared to the eight-cylinder K900s’ 27.1-28.3 seconds at 0.61-0.76 g. Even so, neither K900 I’ve driven feels like a smaller car from behind the wheel. Part of the issue might be the lack of steering feel, which can lead to occasional course corrections on the highway. The car’s multimode driving system livens up the car in Sport mode, but the coolest part of that feature is the new Smart mode, which chooses among Eco, Normal, and Sport driving modes based on how you’re driving. It worked well with my time in the car, but it will only be useful to those who don’t mind the Eco mode it defaults to some of the time.
For the K900 to make sense—in V-6 or V-8 forms—you must appreciate the car’s interior space and well-defined rear-drive proportions. If those factors or the car’s five-year/60,000-mile (five-year/96,561-km) basic warranty aren’t important to you, consider the new-for-2017 Cadenza or a reasonably sized luxury sedan below the first tier. Even since the K900 made its debut for the 2015 model year, the Acura RLX and Cadillac XTS have been joined by the Volvo S90, Lincoln Continental, and Cadillac CT6. These cars are for buyers who for whatever reason look past cars from the most respected luxury brands. The six-cylinder Kia meaningfully extends the K900’s reach, and owners will probably enjoy driving one of the rarest and most spacious cars on the road under $70,000 USD. When driving dynamics and available all-wheel drive are more important than presence, value, and interior space, the K900 might not be the best fit.
|2016 Kia K900 V6 (Luxury)|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$60,850|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, RWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE||3.8L/311-hp/293-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||4,430 lb (51/49%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||200.6 x 74.8 x 58.5 in|
|0-60 MPH||6.4 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||14.7 sec @ 96.5 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||115 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.83 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||26.9 sec @ 0.64 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||17/26/20 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||198/130 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.96 lb/mile|