2014 Kia Cadenza : Review
Recently we were invited out to Del Mar, California, to get a first hand look at Kia’s newest model for 2014, the Cadenza. As we first pulled up to L’Auberge Del Mar, we were greeted by an entire fleet of beautiful new Kia Cadenzas beckoning us to get behind the wheel. They definitely looked at home in the luxurious setting, but we’d have to wait till the second day to take our first spin behind the wheel.
The ocean side location was absolutely stunning and served as the perfect backdrop for Kia’s foray into the luxury market. The Optima has been met by tremendous success in the United States, so Kia has decided to climb to the next rung in the ladder by producing a sedan to compete in the premium market. The Cadenza takes over the role as the flagship in the fleet as the most powerful and technologically advanced Kia offered in the United States.
The Cadenza is offered in one trim level, known as Premium, for around $36,000 out the door. Fully loaded you can expect to pay about $42,000 which makes the Cadenza a compelling value proposition at the low-end of the luxury market… if it can compete on quality. What follows are our drive impressions from a day with the 2014 Kia Cadenza. The photos are a mix of our own, and many provided by Kia’s photographer.
The Cadenza, like other current Kia models, was designed by Peter Schreyer. We’re suckers for his design sensibilities as we’ve noted on previous vehicles we’ve reviewed. The Cadenza has a definite European influence and from certain angles it could be mistaken for a BMW. The strong front end features a new version of Kia’s signature Tiger Nose grille with some aggressive modern headlights. The 19″ multi-spoke wheels are attractive and the chrome accents provide enough of a high-end look without going too far. Overall the look is polished and up-scale and provides a nice contrast to the rest of the Kia line-up.
The Cadenza is certainly an attractive car, but probably doesn’t turn heads in the same way that the Optima does. While we prefer the styling on the Optima, the Cadenza’s more sophisticated design is likely to appeal to their target market. The same can be said for the sensible color choices, which don’t excite us, but are smart choices for a $40,000 premium sedan. The Snow White Pearl or Satin Metal with the contrasting glass roof was our favorite color selection.
Some interesting features included in the 2014 Kia Cadenza relate to the windows. They offer optional Hydrophobic water repelling front side windows, and standard solar control glass everywhere. Those are fancy words for keeping sun-rays out, and water beading up. Additionally they provide perimeter approach lighting, and power folding mirrors.
Inside of the car is where most drivers spend quality time with their vehicle, and they won’t be disappointed by the Cadenza. The interior is spacious and comfortable, and the vehicle was easy to get in and out of, especially with the obligatory seat memory. We tried out three different seats, and as a “Full-Sized Adult” we found the leg-room and head-room adequate in all positions.
Upon entering the vehicle, we were immediately struck by how nice the interior was, and the attention to detail and quality. As you sit on the standard leather seats, you’re surrounded by soft-touch surfaces, wood trims, leather, and even a micro-suede ceiling liner. The sizable sun-roof configuration is one of our favorite features.
The technology and interfaces provided in the Kia Cadenza continue the excellence that we’ve noted in their other recent market entries. While the plastic buttons don’t exactly scream luxury, we found their layout and functionality to be comfortable and easy to use. Included in the model we drove were some must-have features like Navigation, Bluetooth, Infinity 550-Watt Audio System, Steering Wheel Controls, Dual Climate Zones, Heated and Cooled Seats, Blind Spot Detection, Push-Button Start, and a Rear Camera.
We’ve driven several new vehicles over the past few years, and they pretty much all show us a modern touch screen head unit, but the screens in the newest Kia models are among our favorites. The 7-inch TFT screen was vibrant and sharp, had minimal glare issues, and the interface was clean and intuitive. While we weren’t able to explore every single feature of this center console, everything we tried delighted us with its functionality and ease. This is how modern technology in a vehicle should work.
Of particular note is UVO eServices, which is Kia’s next generation of infotainment and telematics. Unlike many brands on the market, Kia is leveraging your existing Smartphone, and its ability to provide updated apps and functionality. The vehicle connects to that, and utilizes your existing phone connection to provide its services, which means you do not have to pay for a separate service. Largely for that reason, they’re able to provide that service to car buyers free for 10 years or 100,000 miles.
The 2014 Kia Cadenza is only offered in one engine configuration, but should suit the needs of most drivers with its 3.3L GDI V6 that provides 293 HP and 255 lb.-ft of torque. The 6-speed automatic transmission features the fun to drive sportmatic paddle shifters that we’ve come to find in many vehicles we drive. The Cadenza gets average fuel economy for the segment with EPA ratings of 19 miles per gallon city and 28 mpg highway, and it runs on regular-grade gas. The V6 is a must in vehicles of this segment, but further highlighted how impressed we were with the 274hp 4-cylinder Optima Turbo.
The Cadenza was powerful and agile, and we put it to the test on some very entertaining roads in Southern California. We pushed it to the limit on some twisty roads, and the Cadenza held its lines around tight corners with minimal body roll. While performance and handling probably isn’t up to the high standards of a finely tuned sports sedan, we think it will be more than adequate for most folks looking to purchase in this segment.
The cabin was noticeably quiet on all types of roads, which allowed for great discussion and comfortable testing of the technology features like the Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS) and the Advanced Smart Cruise Control (ASCC). Each must be manually activated, which is definitely they way you would want it.
The LDWS uses a camera mounted near the rear-view mirror which detects the lines on the road, and then alerts you with a tone when you approach or cross the lines without engaging your turn signal first. While our wives would probably appreciate being replaced by this technology, it might prove to be a bit annoying to use for every day driving.
Kia’s Advanced Smart Cruise Control allows you to set the cruise control, and never have to worry about how fast or slow the car in front of you is going. We’ve all be on the highway rolling along at 70mph when some jerk pulls in front of us at 55mph in an attempt to regulate traffic. If using cruise control, normally you would have to brake or hit the button to lower the speed before you catch up. With ASCC, you essentially set it and forget it, and let the car manage those speed adjustments.
The system utilizes radar built into the lower air intake on the front of the vehicle, and overall we found it to be surprisingly smooth. Kia reps stated you could even use it in stop and go traffic, but we didn’t have the balls to test it in a highly congested area. We’ll take their word for it, rather than risking our liability on a test-drive.
Overall we found the 2014 Kia Cadenza to be a compelling package of style, luxury, performance and technology. While it’s probably not the top vehicle in its class in any of those categories, we struggled to find any real weak points in the Cadenza either. It’s an all-around polished sedan that does everything pretty well, and that alone should be enough to get noticed. However when you combine that with its class leading 10-year warranty, 3-years of included maintenance and its modest price point, you have a strong competitor that should be considered by smart shoppers.
Kia’s biggest challenge is probably overcoming brand snobs who worry about the badging and reputation of a manufacturer. They’ve made great strides as a brand over the past few years, especially with the Optima, and we think they’ll be able to build on that momentum with the Cadenza. They’re clearly aware of that issue, and targeted it head-on with their first Cadenza commercial :
We’re fans of change, of upsetting the status-quo, and spending our money wisely. So even though we’re not in the target demographic for the 2014 Kia Cadenza, we definitely recommend giving it a test-drive to anyone who is.
Additionally, Philip has served as Rally Director for the Washington Automotive Press Association, Speaker at IMPAcon and Blogs with Balls, Chairman of the Relay For Life of North Anne Arundel County, Examiner Team Leader for the Maryland Performance Excellence Awards, and Credentialed Founder of Capitals Outsider.