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2015 Kia K900 V-8 Long-Term Update 9

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 5/19/2015 Zach Gale, Motor Trend Staff

There are certain bridges a $66,400 Kia simply cannot cross, no matter how good the car might be. The automaker will never get widespread K900 purchase consideration from BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class buyers, but that's not necessarily the case for Acura RLX and Cadillac XTS buyers. And considering how affordable Kia makes the base-model K900 to lease and buy, comparing a large rear-drive eight-cylinder luxury sedan to front-drive six-cylinder premium four-doors isn't as crazy as it sounds.

2015 Kia K900 V-8 Long-Term Update 9

Now that the 2015 Kia K900 has a lower $55,400 entry point (including destination), open-minded consumers can compare the car with the RLX and XTS — two cars from automakers that don't command the respect of the premium German brands. Admittedly, Kia is a full step below Acura and Cadillac in terms of brand status, but the K900's extremely low sales numbers work in the buyers' favor. I rarely see other K900s on the road, meaning that half the times I get it washed, the car wash staff compliments the car.

MotorTend Image© Provided by MotorTrend MotorTend Image As this is being written, Kia is offering a low lease deal in Southern California. It makes the K900 Premium more affordable for 36 months than a midlevel front-drive Acura RLX or a base-model front-drive Cadillac XTS, before factoring in post-purchase ownership costs. Move up to the Luxury trim for $5,000 more, and the K900 is still slightly cheaper than the other two cars. Depending on when and where you're reading this, the math is likely to change a little, but the bottom line is that the Kia should merit consideration for luxury-sedan buyers who want a good deal and a traditional luxury look more than they want great gas mileage or class-leading suspension dynamics. Sure, the K900 is less efficient than the RLX and XTS, but only the Kia can come close to pulling off the "I'm a diplomat" look if it had tinted windows and flags on the front of the car.

MotorTend Image© Provided by MotorTrend MotorTend Image So compared to our $66,400 long-term test car, what exactly do you miss out on with a base-model $55,400 K900 Premium or a $60,400 K900 Luxury? Unfortunately, you'll have to forgo the available digital instrument cluster, head-up display, and Surround-View Monitor multi-camera parking system, all of which make driving this car more enjoyable. Beyond that, the omissions aren't as noticeable. The base Premium trim gets HID headlights instead of LEDs, but both illuminate around corners. All K900s have a panoramic sunroof and 19-inch wheels, meaning that from the outside, few will be able to tell you've got a lower-trim model unless they know the chrome finish on the wheels and front grille is unique to the Luxury trim.

Inside, the K900 Premium lacks the fancier Nappa leather seats that are only offered on the Luxury trim — it's definitely something I'll miss once our year with the Kia is done. The base K900 Premium also lacks adaptive cruise control, which can come to a complete stop and re-accelerate without much trouble, but due to how infrequently I use the feature, I wouldn't miss it if my long-termer only had regular cruise control. The lane departure warning system standard on the Luxury trim (but not available in the lower Premium trim) has been off in my K900 for a while now, thanks to too many false-positives beeping on my daily commute. A genuinely useful safety feature is Kia's rear cross-traffic alert. Similar to other systems on the market, the technology can visually and audibly alert you if a vehicle or motorcyclist is crossing into your intended path as you reverse out of a parking space.

If I were looking for a large luxury sedan from a brand below the first tier, such as Acura or Cadillac, I'd have a difficult time choosing between the XTS and the K900. I'm a fan of the XTS' interior, but there's something to be said about the Kia's classic styling, minus the fake side vents. In case you're wondering, although our 420-hp K900 V-8 accelerates to 60 mph in as little as 5.5 seconds, the front-drive 310-hp RLX is good for 5.8 seconds, and an all-wheel-drive, 304-hp XTS does the sprint in 6.9 seconds.

If you were considering an Acura RLX, Cadillac XTS, or Kia K900, three cars with similar lease deals as this is being written, which would you choose?

MotorTend Image© Provided by MotorTrend MotorTend Image More on our long-term 2015 Kia K900 V-8 here:

2015-Kia-K900-V-8-side-in-motion-021© Provided by MotorTrend 2015-Kia-K900-V-8-side-in-motion-021
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