Drive Away 2Day

2014 Kia Cadenza : Current Models

TESTED Ponder this 2014 Kia Cadenza’s as-tested price, browse its list of features and upper-crust options, gaze on its handsome body, and one might naturally infer that it’s a luxury car. We’d agree. But after testing the Cadenza, it’s more complicated than that. Consider, if you will, Kia’s startlingly ambitious plan to legitimately compete with luxury brands by 2017, which will be spearheaded by the rear-drive K9/Quoris. The Cadenza plays a role in this mission, although unlike its more overtly luxurious sibling, it’s more of a toe in the water; an attempt to prepare us mentally for more-expensive Kias to come.

As such, everything about the Cadenza feels carefully crafted to impress while taming expectations. Its luxurious tidings and big footprint make it an enticing alternative to smaller—but similarly priced—sedans such as the Acura TL and Lexus ES350. However, its name lacks the alphanumeric nonsense that’s practically a luxury-car prerequisite (XTS, 528i, E550), so it shouldn’t scare away buyers looking at the similarly sized Toyota Avalon, Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Impala, Ford Taurus, or the Cadenza’s architectural twin, the Hyundai Azera.

Seriously, Forget the Amanti
The Cadenza technically replaces the milquetoast Amanti, but banish any memory you might have of that car, which Kia mercifully yanked from dealerships three years ago. Starting with styling that mixes elements from the latest Forte sedan, the Optima, and the K9, the Cadenza is much, much better. From some angles it looks derivative—a Volkswagen Passat-ified Suzuki Kizashi comes to mind—but overall, the impression is upscale and even slightly sporty. Even though it’s basically a bigger Optima underneath, the Cadenza looks like its own luxury animal. Like the Toyota Avalon and Camry, the two Kias share a platform, although the Cadenza’s front subframe is unique, as is its body structure aft of the rear seat. (The new subframe accommodates the V-6—the Optima lineup is four cylinder only.) Dimensional differences are relatively minor, with the Cadenza’s wheelbase spanning two more inches, overall length an additional 5.2 inches, width another 0.7 inch, and height another 0.8 inch.

The added size pays off inside, where there’s plenty of room for four passengers—or five over medium distances. The cabin is tasteful and approachable, harmoniously channeling the exterior’s understated feel. Materials and fit and finish in our early production test car were impressive, and the UVO touch-screen infotainment system operated faultlessly and without frustration. As we noted in our 2014 Kia Forte sedan test, UVO’s fonts and graphics match those of the optional digital gauge cluster, as well as the dashboard’s hard buttons. It’s a nice touch that shows Kia sweats some details. The seats and the driving position are comfortable for long hauls, although lateral thigh and back support are lacking.

Who Needs Downsizing and Turbos?
The only powertrain choice is an all-aluminum, 3.3-liter V-6 making 293 horsepower and 255 lb-ft of torque mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Kia considered adding all-wheel drive for snowy states but ultimately decided front drive was sufficient. The company also explored dropping the Optima’s optional turbocharged four (it makes about the same power) into the Cadenza but decided it didn’t fit the car’s relaxed vibe. The six certainly isn’t any less relaxed when it comes time to hustle. It feels far stronger than its ho-hum specs suggest, and power builds linearly toward the redline near where peak horsepower and torque live. We hit 60 mph 0.2 second quicker (in 6.2 seconds) than in the last turbocharged Optima we tested. That car was 236 pounds lighter and packed more torque. Our observed 25-mpg fuel economy also bettered the Optima turbo’s by 5 mpg and fell right between the EPA’s 19-mpg city and 28-mpg highway estimates.

As for the rest of the Kia’s dynamic envelope, it carves a decent line around corners, thanks to dual-flow Sachs dampers and a well-tuned front-strut and rear-multilink suspension. The ride is comfortable, with body motions and roll well controlled, and there’s no float over big road heaves. Our nits are few but are headlined by the steering. As is Kia’s habit, the electrically assisted setup is a letdown, being over-boosted and uncommunicative. Granted, most of the Cadenza’s competitors don’t exactly shine in this regard, either, and the rack’s isolation likely appeals to the car’s comfort-oriented target audience. Those same folks might not like the tire noise that penetrates the cabin on less than perfect pavement, however. And even though the brakes feel strong and are easy to modulate, the 186-foot stop from 70 mph we recorded isn’t worth writing home about.

Pragmatically Meeting Pragmatists’ Needs
Kia describes the target Cadenza buyer as someone who lusts after luxury goods but can’t afford a fancy badge or doesn’t want to consume conspicuously. The Cadenza is designed to bridge those wants by coming nearly fully loaded, with a single affordable trim level and two available options packages. Standard gear includes 18-inch aluminum wheels, LED running lights and taillights, an eight-inch touch screen, UVO infotainment with navigation, a 12-speaker Infinity audio system, a backup camera, leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, and ventilated driver’s seat.

The two option groups, Luxury and Technology, add $3000 each to the Cadenza’s $35,900 bottom line, and the former is required to get the latter. (Our test car came with it all and had an as-equipped price of $41,900, boldly venturing into luxe territory.) The Luxury package includes a panoramic sunroof, adaptive HID headlights, nappa leather seats, a seven-inch digital gauge cluster, heated rear seats and steering wheel, and a power rear sunshade. The Tech bundle adds 19-inch aluminum wheels, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, an electronic parking brake, a hydrophobic windshield and front windows, and adaptive cruise control that can bring the Cadenza to a halt and automatically accelerate if the pause lasts fewer than two or three seconds.

Although the Cadenza’s base price eclipses that of its full-size competition, Kia is banking on buyers noticing that a Lexus ES350 or Acura TL costs a few grand more. If this seems like a bold experiment, it’s really not, as Kia has already launched the spiffy Optima Limited. The larger and even more luxurious Cadenza is a good car that ably lays another brick in Kia’s self-declared road to luxury relevance.

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Sources : 2014 Kia Cadenza Photo | 2014 Kia Cadenza Article | 2014 Kia Cadenza Wheel Photo | 2014 Kia Cadenza Engine Photo | 2014 Kia Cadenza Enterior Photo


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