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Car Report: A luxury KIA? Yes, really

Monday - 6/2/2014, 4:57am  ET

The KIA K900 isn't up with an S-class Mercedes, but it's a series luxury car for less. (WTOP/Mike Parris)
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WASHINGTON -- The latest full-size luxury sedan is large and brimming with technology and is built by KIA.

Yes, I said KIA, and the all-new 2015 K900, a flagship sedan, is a very luxurious and large rear-wheel drive sedan with a powerful V8 and plenty of space to pamper five people.

A good luxury sedan should be able to travel long distances in comfort, so that's just what I did over the recent long weekend -- a nice drive with the family to Erie, Pennsylvania. Nothing like a seven-hour ride, more than 900 miles in a week, to see whether the KIA K900 is a true luxury car worth $66,400 (with the optional VIP package). Base K900s start at $59,500, but the initial run of this big KIA will be fully loaded with the VIP package. They are just now hitting local dealerships.

I know what you're saying: "A $66,000 KIA? Are you serious?" The answer is yes; KIA is very serious. The luxury sedan market has established players from Germany, such as the Mercedes S class, which starts at around $95,000, and the BMW and Audi luxury sedans, in the mid-$80,000 range. The KIA K900 is the same size or larger than these, and offers a very quiet and comfortable ride at a relative bargain price in the large luxury sedan market. The big KIA is looking at making a move for first-time luxury sedan buyers.

Spending a week with the 2015 K900 was refreshing and relaxing for the amount of driving I did. It's an escape from the normal drive -- very quiet and comfortable, with enough high-tech gadgets to keep it interesting. Maybe it's not as luxurious as a new Mercedes S class -- the switch gear isn't as nice -- but a very good package.

This big KIA coddles its occupants with rich Napa leather seats that are heated and cooled, as well as real wood trim. Passengers will fight over sitting in the back seats because they're just as comfortable; they're also heated and cooled leather, and they're power-reclining, for even more comfort and plenty of room.

The ride is smooth, gliding over bumps and making most potholes disappear; it leans slightly and floats when pushed hard in turns. But let's face it -- you're not buying this car to carve up back roads.

Some of the other features include a 900-watt Lexicon sound system and a large nine-inch screen for the NAV. A nifty "heads-up display" shows your speed and NAV directions on the windshield, and lets you know if cars are in your blind spot. The advanced smart cruise control will brake and accelerate the car once you set a speed and distance. (It can really apply some braking, which can be a little unsettling.)

The KIA K900 comes with a V8 that has 420 hp and a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic. It's not the fastest in its class, but it's plenty quick. The V8 makes a nice yet muted noise when pushed.

The KIA is a very large and heavy car. Its EPA rating of 15 mpg city and 23 mpg highway doesn't seem impressive, but over 949 miles I averaged 24 mpg with a lot of highway driving and on regular gas which is rare in the luxury sedan segment. I made the 340-mile trip back on one tank and still had a 75-mile range.

The 2015 KIA K900 offers plenty of space and coddles those inside with a very comfortable ride and drive-all-day seats that relax you. This big KIA may not be as luxurious as the S-class Mercedes -- not much is -- and it doesn't offer all- wheel drive like its competitors, but it does offer a good value for your luxury-car dollar. And KIA has a 10-year powertrain warranty; your scheduled maintenance for the first three years is free, and you get another K900 to use while yours is in for service.

Kia's new flagship is impressive. They have made huge strides in the last decade and now have a very formidable lineup of cars and SUVs for every budget.

Editor's Note: Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by STI ,FMI or Event Solutions for the purpose of this review.

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