2014 Kia Cadenza

8 Exterior
9 Interior
7 Performance
6 Fuel Economy
7 Value
7.4

I’ve been asked before where carmakers come up with the names of some of these vehicles. And frankly, I just don’t know. Sometimes the name of a car can help it or hurt it. Kia launched a full-size sedan in this model year and then promptly named it the Cadenza.

Don’t ask me what it means or where they got the name, perhaps the name was stuck to the bottom drawer of someone’s credenza (groan). Regardless of the name, the Cadenza fits nicely on Kia’s now impressive showroom floor. As a longer, wider more dignified version of the very popular Optima, the Cadenza’s debut this model year will make the consumer forget all about the last similar offering from the Korean carmaker – the Amanti – which was last produced in 2009.

The Cadenza fits nicely on Kia’s now impressive showroom floor.

The Cadenza shares many similarities with its Korean cousin the Hyundai Azera and it faces hefty rivals in the Toyota Avalon, Chrysler 300 and Volkswagen Passat. So, what does this newcomer offer that can’t already be found? As is the case with everything, it’s all in style and preference.

The Kia Cadenza has a nice combination of luxury and sportiness. It’s more refined than the Optima, but not over-the-top in its sports styling either. A clean, simple grille is accented with two small linear impressions on the hood. That crisp, linear style is carried on down the side panels and leads toward the tail end of the sedan. No spoiler is present, nor does it really need one. In fact, since Kia is marketing this as a luxury sedan more than a sports sedan, it might be out of place. The Cadenza’s styling is fresh and modern, although, I do wish more had been done to the back of the vehicle taillights, as it seems to slide toward blandness in this regard.

The Kia Cadenza has a nice combination of luxury and sportiness.

The engine is well powered. The Cadenza features only one engine option, a 3.3-liter V-6 engine with gasoline direct injection. It produces 293 horsepower and comes with a 6-speed automatic transmission. As mentioned, this is not a sedan aimed at the sports sedan enthusiast. The Cadenza is not fast off the line nor will it corner on rails, but its engine performance rivals that of the Optima (and in my book that’s a good thing) and outperforms the Avalon.

Inside, as Kia does so well in so much of their product line, the Cadenza has plenty of creature comforts and fantastic touch points. While the Cadenza has two trims (Premium and Limited) standard options on both include rain-sensing wipers, heated front seats, leather upholstery, cooled driver’s seat, rearview camera with park assist and an 8-inch touchscreen. All of these combined with a refined, elegantly designed interior makes the Cadenza special. It shows that Kia does know how to do luxury well.

On the Limited trim (which was my tester), extra features like xenon headlights, panoramic sunroof, heated steering wheel, windshield wiper de-icer, heated rear seats and adaptive cruise control push the Cadenza to a level that Kia has not ventured.

It’s easy to get used to being pampered like this, it’s just hard to remember it’s coming from a Kia.

Heated rear seats and adaptive cruise control push the Cadenza to a level that Kia has not ventured.

The spacious interior is quiet, comfortable and affords plenty of leg room and head room for all passengers. Rear passengers will enjoy the ability to spread out making the Cadenza a nice option for business travelers and young executives.

My guess is, that was the targeted market for the Cadenza, and once again, the Koreans hit their mark. Fuel economy is average for the Cadenza. With an EPA rating of 19 city and 28 highway, there’s better options for saving at the pump (see anything diesel or even the non-diesel Passat). And despite, the GDI technology, the Cadenza isn’t a fuel sipper. In a week of driving, I averaged barely 22 mpg.

Compared to similarly priced competitors, especially the Toyota Avalon, the Cadenza shows its worth and value.

Starting price for the base trim premium Cadenza starts at $35,000. However, my tester was the top-of-the-line Limited trim with a standard price of $43,250. That will be a big sticker price for the American consumer especially with the image of affordability that comes with the Kia brand.

However, compared to similarly priced competitors, especially the Toyota Avalon, the Cadenza shows its worth and value. High-quality materials, a refined exterior design and ample-powered engine make the Cadenza an immediate player. The engine performance gives you everything you want. And while the Cadenza is a big sedan, it doesn’t drive big. It handles itself in a nimbler fashion than the Chrysler 300. It’s more comparable to the Optima in the way it handles, turns and even the suspension. So while there is more size and space, it doesn’t perform that way on the open road.

The Cadenza will be a contender for this segment.

Kia continues its hot streak with their foray into the full-size market. Competitors be forewarned, the Cadenza will be a contender for this segment.


Photo Credit: Kia

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