We had both driven the 2014 Kia Cadenza at various events and introductions during the last year, but we?re excited to get a little more time in it at home. Usually a car like this calls for a road trip, but our travel time was limited so we had to settle for our local test areas.
In our minds, Kia is one of the most remarkable brands sold in the U.S. In the early years this 18 year old (in the U.S.) car company had limited and weak products but showed constant growth and steady improvement in product quality and design. The past eight to ten years Kia has been the golden boy of the auto industry with each new product winning awards and critical praise and with that has come a significant increase in sales. Kia is now one of the powerhouses of the automotive industry having finished in eighth place overall in 2013.
Until the new rear-drive luxury Kia K900 goes on sale later this spring, the latest Kia leap, and the largest car in the lineup, has been the Cadenza ? new name, new look and new flagship for the brand. As an entry-luxury model, the Cadenza took the place of the obscure Amanti, which was Kia?s top model from 2002 through 2010. An impressive value, the homely Amanti failed to excite the buyers.
The Cadenza has Kia family styling cues like the ?tiger tooth? grille, the line of the ?D? pillar, but it looks more elegant than the Optima. The Cadenza is exactly the same length as the Toyota Avalon and competes directly with other large sedans like the Toyota Avalon, Ford Taurus, Hyundai Azera and Chevrolet Impala.
A photo may be worth a thousand words, but like many new cars, a photo falls short with the Cadenza. In person, the Cadenza had elegant sculpted lines that we think make it a head turner. The interior is equally impressive with clean simple lines, standard leather seating and an extensive list of available equipment.
Kia Executive Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Michael Sprague, described the new Cadenza as the ?most technologically advanced Kia ever? when it debuted last year.
Developed from a stretched version of the highly regarded Kia Optima platform, Cadenza rides on MacPherson struts in the front and a multi-link rear suspension. By using 60 percent high-tensile strength steel, engineers were able to keep the weight down and create a more rigid platform. This results in very good handling characteristics and a solid feeling cabin.
?The Cadenza?s dynamic driving characteristics and advanced technology set our premium sedan apart from the competition,? said Sprague. ?Combining our most powerful engine with a well-engineered chassis, a direct and communicative steering system and a capable multi-link rear suspension, the Cadenza promises to appeal to shoppers who want both comfort and performance from a premium-level sedan.?
The only available engine in the front-wheel drive Cadenza is a smooth 3.3-liter direct injection V-6 producing 293 horsepower. The transmission is Kia?s six-speed automatic with Sportmatic? manual shift mode complete with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. The Cadenza feels quick and agile on the road making it a fun drive. Buff magazines are listing a 6.2 second 0 to 60 mph time. The engine has an EPA fuel economy rating of 19 mpg highway and 28 mpg city ? we averaged 26.7 mpg in mixed driving during our test.
The 2014 Kia Cadenza is offered in two trim levels, Premium at $35,900 including the destination charge, and $43,200 for the Limited. The list of standard features is very impressive for a car at this price point, including items like navigation (8-inch screen) with Sirius traffic, Kia?s UVO services, premium Infinity audio, smart key with push button start, rear camera and dozens of other premium convenience and safety features. The Limited builds on the very well-equipped Premium adding a panoramic sunroof, HID headlights, Nappa leather seating, ventilated seats, heated steering wheel and a dozen other significant upgrades.
Options on our Premium test car included a $3,000 Luxury Package which added a panoramic sunroof, adaptive HID headlights, Nappa leather, rear heated (outboard) seats, heated steering wheel, power rear sunshade and several other convenience features. The other option package, which requires the Luxury Package, is the $3,000 Technology Package which includes19-inch alloy wheels, Smart Cruise Control, Blind Spot Detection, Lane Departure Warning, electronic parking brake and Hydrophobic glass. (The Hydrophobic glass in the front door windows has a Rain-X-like material embedded in the glass to help the windows repel water.)
Kia is offering a complimentary scheduled maintenance program for the 2014 Cadenza. It includes the first five factory scheduled service appointments and is applicable for 36 months or 37,500 miles, whichever comes first.
U.S. News and World Report does a good job of digesting all the major auto review notes and they list the 2014 Kia Cadenza as number two of the 10 affordable large cars, just behind the Chevrolet Impala and we think that it fits right at or near the top of that list, too.