Kia Cadenza

2014 Kia Cadenza (May 10, 2013)

Most automakers are eager to grow, and will often enter new markets in order to do so. As a result, luxury nameplates offer lower-priced vehicles while lower-priced autos enter the near-luxury and luxury arenas.



Enter the Kia Cadenza. Unlike the Amanti, which preceded it, the Cadenza is an impressive vehicle. Priced to compete in the near-luxury field, the Cadenza is slightly larger and roomier than many other vehicles in the segment.



The Cadenza is equipped with a 3.3-liter, direct injection, 293-horsepower V-6 engine, a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive.



Kia also included every expected power assist, dual-zone automatic climate control, a premium Infinity audio system, a rear camera display, heated front seats with leather upholstery and automatic rain-sensing wipers.



The Cadenza my wife Paula and I had for review featured all three optional packages offered by Kia. The $3,000 Technology Package has active cruise control, blind spot detection, lane departure warning and upgraded 19-inch alloy wheels. The $3,000 Luxury Package adds a panoramic sunroof, HID adaptive headlamps, upgraded leather trim, heated outboard backseats, a heated power tilt and telescoping steering wheel and ventilation for the driver’s seat. Finally, there was a no-charge White Interior Package that, as the name implies, includes striking white leather upholstery.



Kia also offers the Cadenza in two new versions: Premium and Limited. The Limited comes with the Technology and Luxury packages. Buyers of the Limited can opt for the no-charge white package or a new grey leather upgrade. The Premium offers only the Luxury Package as an option.



Performance is excellent regardless of the trim level. Both models share the same drivetrain. Acceleration is quick, the car responds nicely to the throttle and the engine is refined, even when pressed. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts nicely. A sprint to 60 miles per hour took just 6.9 seconds.



The suspension system manages to deliver both a firmly comfortable ride and good handling. The Cadenza feels good in corners, though the power steering offers more assist than road feel.



The interior is very nice. The front seats are comfortable, while the rear seat is fit for two adults. Three can ride there, but they will feel a little cramped. Blame the cabin’s width.



In short, the Kia Cadenza is highly competitive in the near-luxury class. It’s sized and priced right and the performance is very good.



Still, two potential problems stand out. One is the lack of an all-wheel drive option. The other is the Kia nameplate. As one luxury car salesperson once confided, it’s not the quality of the vehicle that matters most to many luxury car buyers. It’s the credibility of the brand.



“They don’t want friends to snicker when they drive up to the club,” he says. Arriving in a Kia, even one as good as the Cadenza, might prompt some raised eyebrows until word of its performance and value spreads.



Engine: 3.3 liter V-6

HP: 293

Torque: (lb/ft): 255

EPA: 19/28

Starts at: $35,100

Next week: Mazda3



 Paula Says