2014 Kia CadenzaPosted on October 25th, 2013
New sedan proves luxury and value aren’t mutually exclusive
By Nina Russin
Building on the success of its midsized Optima, Kia introduces the full-sized Cadenza premium sedan. Although the Cadenza is not Kia’s first foray into large sedan territory, following on the heels of the 2009 Amanti, it is the brand’s first serious contender in the segment. Not only does it hold its own against luxury brands such as Lexus, Audi and Infiniti, it blows the doors off comparably priced premium models.
With styling by ace designer, Peter Schreyer, the Cadenza is a sexy, powerful ride. The base model starts at $35,100 excluding the $800 destination charge. Two options on the test car, a luxury package and technology group, bring the final MSRP to $41,900.
Power comes from a 293-horsepower direct injection V-6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission with manual gear selection. The engine’s 255 foot-pounds of torque give the Cadenza excellent acceleration off the line and in the 20-50 mile-per-hour range drivers use merging into high-speed traffic.
Standard convenience features include keyless entry and start, dual-zone climate control, Infinity surround-sound audio system, navigation, Bluetooth interface, rearview camera, leather upholstery, UVO telematics, satellite radio and more.
Styled to stand out
Following in the tradition of European sport sedans, Schreyer gave the Cadenza coupe-like profile, with a long nose and snub rear end. LED headlamp and tail lamp assemblies accentuate the front grille and rear deck with dual exhaust pipes, while 19-inch wheels give the sedan a planted stance.
A panoramic sunroof on the test car brings additional ambient light inside the car.
Performance to match
Its bullet profile and large wheels give the expectation of strong performance, and the Cadenza doesn’t disappoint. Direct injection provides instantaneous throttle response, making the car feel more agile than what a person might expect from a 3800-pound car with a long wheelbase.
I did not use the manual gear select feature during the test drive, but found the transmission pleasantly responsive in fully automatic mode. There is no perceptible shift shock during normal driving conditions, yet the transmission kicks down quickly if the driver digs into the throttle.
An electric power steering system is nicely tuned for the car, offering ample assist at low speeds for maneuverability with a pleasantly heavy feel on the highway. A 36.5-foot turning circle is pretty good for a sedan with a 112-inch wheelbase, making it possible to perform the occasional U-turn on wider surface roads.
The suspension consists of a MacPherson strut set up in front and multi-links in the back, with stabilizer bars on both axles to keep the chassis flat in the corners. I took a decreasing radius cloverleaf ramp at speed and felt well in control of the car.
Four-wheel disc brakes stop the sedan in firm, linear fashion.
Visibility around the perimeter is good. The optional technology package includes blind spot monitoring that illuminates LED signals in the side mirrors when vehicles in adjacent lanes pass through the driver’s blind spots. It’s an invaluable feature for drivers who commute through dense traffic. An adaptive cruise control system in the same package automatically maintains a predetermined distance between the Cadenza and the vehicle in front.
The standard rearview camera projects a wide-angle view to the back of the car when the driver shifts into reverse. Lines superimposed over the image show the vehicle’s trajectory according to steering inputs.
Because of its longer wheelbase, there is considerably more rear legroom in the Cadenza than the midsized Kia Optima. The second-row center position had enough room for me with my disproportionately long legs to feel comfortable. That rarely happens.
Keyless entry and start enables the driver to enter and exit the car as well as fire the ignition without removing the key fob from his pocket. When the driver relocks the car, the side mirrors automatically fold inwards.
I found the power lumbar support on the driver’s seat easy to adjust, making the sedan very comfortable for longer drives. A power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel is part of the luxury package. Redundant audio and Bluetooth controls on the steering wheel minimize driver distraction.
Center stack controls are easy to reach from either front seating position. Designers did a good job of including cupholders and storage bins throughout the passenger cabin, including a locking glovebox.
The trunk is quite spacious, with plenty of room for luggage and groceries. Golf bags could easily fit inside, and a small pass-through adds additional room for skis. Cyclists would be better served with one of Kia’s crossover vehicles.
The Cadenza comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, traction control and stability control. Kia’s ten year/100,000 mile factory warranty covers all repairs due to manufacturing defects.
Like: A stylish, spacious full-sized sedan with satisfying performance and a high level of standard safety and convenience features.
Base price: $35,100
As tested: $41,900
Horsepower: 293 Hp @ 6400 rpm
Torque: 255 lbs.-ft. @ 5200 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: Standard
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 19/28 mpg city/highway
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