Kia continues to build out its lineup to compete on an equal footing with more established brands. And with the addition of the upscale Cadenza sedan for 2014, Kia officially becomes a full-line, mainstream automaker.
Although Kia fielded the full-size Amanti for a time in the 2000s, its oddball styling and woozy handling relegated it to niche status. The Amanti seemed designed for buyers who couldn't otherwise afford a large car, whereas the Cadenza is clearly aimed at those who have a choice.
The front-drive sedan is appreciably longer and wider than the next-biggest Kia, the Optima, and about 400 pounds heavier. The sole powertrain is a 3.3-liter V6 with 293 horsepower matched to a six-speed automatic, a setup shared with its corporate cousin, the Hyundai Azera.
Takeoffs are brisk, and there's plenty of power for passing without drama. The Cadenza can't match the performance of V8 rivals, but it soundly outruns the hybrids and four-cylinder turbos in this class. The steering and suspension systems skew toward the sporty side, but not to the extent that they interfere with the primary mission of comfortable cruising.
The premium sedan market is a pleasant place to be for consumers, but it's a fiercely competitive arena for the players. There are already perennial favorites like the powerful Chrysler 300, versatile Toyota Avalon, and eerily quiet Buick Lacrosse, plus a reborn Chevrolet Impala and the related Hyundai Azera. In order to carve a place in the crowd, Kia has taken the bold tactic of offering the Cadenza in a single, incredibly well-equipped trim level. That means a higher base price, but what it gives in return shames some luxury cars.
In addition to the expected comfort and convenience amenities, standard fare includes genuine wood trim on the steering wheel, instrument panel and console; a ventilated driver's seat; rain-sensing wipers; a rearview camera; rear parking assist; voice controls; navigation; and a 12-speaker Infinity sound system. Beyond all that, the Cadenza offers some interesting options (grouped into in packages) that you never knew you needed -- like water-repellent front windows, a power cushion extender for the driver's seat, and a rear power sunshade.
Buyers will be surprised, maybe even astonished, by everything that's included in the Cadenza's base price: scads of wood interior trim, rain-sensing wipers, power-folding sideview mirrors, keyless ignition, leather seats with heat in front and driver ventilation, a rearview camera, rear parking assist, voice controls, 12-speaker Infinity sound and 18-inch alloy wheels.
The available Premium Package adds xenon headlights, a panoramic sunroof, a windshield wiper de-icer, Nappa leather upholstery, heat for the steering wheel and rear seats, driver memory, a rear power sunshade, and a power cushion extender for the driver seat. There's also a Technology Package with 19-inch wheels, adaptive cruise control, an electronic parking brake, water-repellent front windows, and blind spot and lane departure warning systems.
Build and price your dream Kia Cadenza in just a few easy steps.
|Build & Price|
Available hybrid, stellar reliability, not as plush
Available V8, high style, lighter on standard equipment
Exceptionally smooth and quiet, lacks high-end options
Friendly price, robust styling, stingy on luxury