Kia branches out to luxury with K900

My plan was to post a preview on March 23 of the 2015 K900, a brand new car from Kia. But on the morning of March 22, the unthinkable happened: a mile-wide, mile-long mudslide near Oso, wiping out homes, killing people, making international news.

I got no work done on the K900 preview, not just because of being fixated on news coverage of the mudslide. Every time I sat down at the computer to get started, writing about a car seemed utterly ridiculous, even blasphemous, in the shadow of such terrible suffering going on so close to home.

Some would say writing about cars is always ridiculous, but we all have cars, and if not, we ride in someone else’s. Cars are a necessity for the kind of lives most of us are living. That makes them important. And, though writing about cars isn’t the most noble work in the world, it’s what I do, so now I’m back at it.

From here, there’s no wonderful way to segue into the K900 preview, so I’ll just say here goes.

The rear-wheel-drive K900 is Kia’s first full-size luxury sedan and it shares some mechanicals with its cousin, the Hyundai Equus, but there’s no family resemblance between their exterior designs. Equus looks calm and dignified. K900 looks ready to party.

There’s a choice between two engines: a 420-horsepower V8 or a 311-horsepower V6. Models equipped with the V8 are available now at local dealerships. Look for V6 versions at a later date, with pricing expected to start around $50,000.

Fuel economy ratings are 18 mpg city and 27 mpg highway for the V6, and 15/23 for the V8. Both engines come paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. This is the first V8 sedan and eight-speed gearbox in Kia’s history.

Just like Equus, the K900’s features-per-dollar quotient is impressive. Potential buyers in the premium sedan market doing triage with Audi, BMW, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz can add Kia to the list, and take note of all the standard features K900 includes with a base price of $60,400 (including destination charge) for the V8 — a significantly lower amount than the other brands expect to get for their equivalent models.

A partial recital of K900’s standard equipment includes four drive modes (Normal, Comfort, Sport, Snow); heated and ventilated front seats; heated rear outboard seats; HID (V6) or LED (V8) headlights with adaptive lighting system; panoramic sunroof (optional on V6); rain-sensing windshield wipers; heated steering wheel (optional on V6); Bluetooth wireless technology; 900-watt Lexicon Logic7 audio system with 17 speakers; SiriusXM satellite radio; navigation system with 9.2-inch display screen; front and rear camera display; front and rear parking sensors with Park Guide system (optional on V8); three-zone temperature control; blind spot detection system (optional on V6); and rear cross traffic alert (optional on V6).

The name K900 is derived from the car’s counterpart in South Korea, and was chosen for the U.S. market where consumers associate luxury vehicles with alpha-numeric names. Unfortunately, when spoken it can sound like “Canine Hundred.”

Why would Kia, a highly successful brand whose stock-in-trade has always been popular economy cars, come out with a full-size luxury sedan? Good question. Michael Sprague, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Kia Motors America, can answer.

At a media introduction for the K900, Sprague said it used to be that if Kia got award recognition, it was for being “the cheapest car under $12,000.” Now, he pointed out, Kia is being awarded for such things as quality, customer satisfaction and environmental responsibility. “We see opportunity; the time is right,” he said. He admitted that Kia doesn’t expect high volume sales for the K900, but said it will “raise the brand’s portfolio.”

IMMBPO (In My Modest But Professional Opinion), Sprague’s best explanation came when he said, “Luxury brands have been moving down into our space. Why can’t we move up into their space?”

More in Herald Business Journal

Peoples, HomeStreet banks bump lowest salaries after tax cut

The banks with Snohomish County branches will raise minimum salaries for employees to $15 an hour.

In this Dec. 20, 2017, photo, a clerk reaches to a shelf to pick an item for a customer order at the Amazon Prime warehouse, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
Amazon’s potential HQ2 sites leaves many cities disappointed

And yet, some municipal leaders are looking at the bright side of being rejected.

Exotic animals find compassionate care in Bothell (video)

At the Center for Bird and Exotic Animal Medicine, vets treat snakes, hedgehogs and even kangaroos.

Don’t take economic forecasts to the bank — or the casino

Air travel delays could spur a rebirth of passenger rail service.

Amanda Strong (left) tries on an Angel of the Winds Arena hat as she and Courtney Brown hand out gift bags after the renaming ceremony Dec. 13 in Everett. The new name replaces the Xfinity name. (Andy Bronson / Her file)
Angel of the Winds to break ground on $60M casino expansion

“We think we’re on the cusp of becoming a major resort.”

Emirates orders 20 more Airbus A380 jumbos, saving program

The Dubai carrier also has options to buy 16 more. The program seems safe until 2029.

U.S. government proposes new rules for hog slaughter

The plan lets plant workers be in charge of removing unfit hogs, instead of government inspectors.

How do you retrieve an errant Boeing 737 from a muddy slope?

Turkish authorities used cranes to lift a plane that skidded off a runway.

House passes bill aimed at lowering gender wage gap

The bill would hinder employers from retaliating against female workers who ask about others’ pay.

Most Read