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The KIA K900 premium luxury sedan, as seen along Dockweiler Beach in Los Angeles.
KIA Motors America has entered the chauffeured transportation market. That statement should stop you in your tracks. But you read it right, and oh, just you shush now! Don’t say what you are thinking, because the KIA K900 is not your college-age son’s or grandson’s little bugger of a Korean car buzzing toward community college.
On the upscale luxury front, KIA has finally arrived, after entering the U.S. market in 1994 with a push into the economy vehicle segment. KIA is now the seventh largest auto brand in the U.S. by volume, outselling Cadillac, BMW and Chrysler. The K900, its largest luxury sedan, puts out the max when compared to competing sedans Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7-Series and Hyundai Equus. The South Korean automaker, with U.S. headquarters in Irvine, Calif., enjoys high reliability and quality ratings once exclusive to major Japanese OEMs.
A new exclusive offer, courtesy of a partnership with the National Limousine Association, prices the vehicle for NLA members at $56,695, and extends a 5-year/150,000-mile warranty plan. Non-NLA operators interested in this price can fill out forms to join the NLA at participating KIA dealerships. The K900 officially debuts Oct. 19-21 at LCT-NLA Show East at the Atlantic City (N.J.) Convention Center.
LCT tested and probed the K900 in late July, front to end. Here are some key highlights:
The K900 is a big boost under the hood, and from a chauffeured standpoint, even includes some added amenities not found in other premium category luxury sedans.
If it wasn’t for the KIA label, this sedan would be easily confused with its peers and competitors. Its sleek, contoured lines give it a smooth shape with filled-out width and heft. The rear long-doors ease the entry-exit for chauffeured clients. There’s nothing boxy or overtly bulky about the shape. If you had to compare the K900 and luxury auto frames to athletic figures, then think of the K900 as a broad-shouldered swimmer with a tapered lean torso, somewhere between the the bulky, barrel-chested football player and the emaciated, sinewy track runner.
The smooth, powerful quiet engine fused with the solid, centered balanced frame creates a road experience like that of a German swedan. In the K900, speed is like the modern day aging process: 50 is the new 30; 70 is the new 50, and 90 is the new 70. Grandma won’t tell you to slow down in this car. The V-8, 5.0-Litre, 420-horsepower engine features an 8-speed Sportmatic transmission, ideal for all types of driving conditions. There is nothing that this vehicle can’t handle, especially merging, accelerating and speeding up and down the vast freeways of Los Angeles and surrounding hillsides. And for a V-8, the 23 miles per gallon on the highway and 15 mpg in the city is more respectable than most high-performance engines.
A complete technology menu offers satellite data, smart safety systems and full entertainment options, accented with the touch of class of a traditional dashboard clock.
Your chauffeur will appreciate the ease and logic of accurately labeled and placed controls. A complete safety system warns about lane departures, when to change lanes, and provides a two-angle back-up view. The dashboard clock adds a centered visual point of class and sophistication. It’s a nice contrast to all the digital and display innovations.
The tech system offers a complete oscillating menu of options, including satellite radio, navigation, and the UVO eServices APP. This free app allows you to sync your smartphone with the vehicle and tap UVO eServices. You can download it at the Google Play and App stores. But my favorite feature is the Sirius-XM data center, separate from Sirius XM radio menu, that can provide all types of real-time Geo-located information and updates, including sports scores and programmed stocks and equities quotes. This tool alone enables chauffeurs to serve as “information concierges,” always able to provide the latest scores and stock prices to corporate travelers.