An ambitious model emerges...
Kia is embarking on an ambitious new road these days. The automaker is producing cars that not only look great, but are built well, drive nicely, and boast tons of great interior features. Now has come the time for the Kia masterstroke it seems, because the all-new Cadezna is ready to grace showrooms and roadways across the country… and it’s going to prove that America is ready for a $40,000 Kia.
That’s right, the Cadenza, which starts at about $35,000, will run the average buyer about $40,000.
How will this car be made possible? Kia believes there is a new category of shopper living in an area that the automaker refers to as an “emerging space”. It exists between the mainstream and the luxury world, and it’s precisely the type of vehicle that is the 2014 Cadenza. Kia feels that the definition of wealth has changed in this country and those with money no longer seek showy methods of status display. There are other ways to feel like you’ve spent your money well… and it doesn’t require a badge from a German automaker on the nose of the car.
Does the Cadezna actually deliver on the promise of providing that emerging space level of luxury that it claims? We spent a day with the car criss-crossing roads across Southern California to find out.
That Schreyer Style!
Right off the bat, it’s clear that we’re dealing with one fine looking machine. Ever since Kia lured design dynamo Peter Schreyer away from Volkswagen, the Korean automaker has been churning out delightfully designed vehicles. The Cadezna is the latest to get the upscale treatment and it also happens to wear it rather well.
From the front, the Cadenza gives off a luxurious vibe reminiscent of the German sedans with which it’s trying to do a bit of car-buyer battling. The nose reminds us of a BMW 5-Series thanks to the cuts on the hood and the swept headlamps. Moving to the profile, we’re treated to an appearance that recalls large Audi sedans. That Audi feel continues out on back because the Cadenza almost looks like a prior generation A6 from a distance.
It’s not just that it looks like a German sedan that makes it look handsome, however, because this is a Schreyer designed machine with tremendous curb appeal. The optional 19-inch wheels fill the wells perfectly and look great to boot. The Cadenza is almost subtly gorgeous in a way that an upscale vehicle should be. It’s not trying too hard to look as good as it does.
An upscale interior
The good looks continue on the inside. Kia is getting better at producing a quality comfortable seating surface and the Cadenza continues those steps in the right direction. The thrones aren’t perfect, and we would love to see Kia borrow the units that kissing-cousin Hyundai employs on its Azera. Still they’re lightyears better than the seats from just a few years in the past.
Continuing with the upscale feel is a smartly designed interior that seems to wrap around the front two seats. The instrument panel and dashboard stretch out into the door panels, which provides great visual depth. There’s also plenty of room inside thanks to the Cadenza being larger than its stable mate Optima. The wheelbase is two inches longer while the overall length is a five-inch increase. That extra room went into the rear seats, which means there’s nothing but comfort to be had back there.
Up front though, is where the driver gets to have his or her fun. This is thanks mostly in part to the wonderful UVO eServices system that graces the center stack of the Cadenza. This system pairs with your smartphone and provides amazing levels of access to you vehicle. It’s similar to OnStar from General Motors… except that it’s totally free! It also adds features such as a Parking Minder, so you can find your car if you forget where you parked it, and access to setting up dealer appointments for scheduled maintenance.
Once you’re in the car, that center stack is also the source of an eight-inch touchscreen display. This unit provides access to the optional navigation, 12-speaker Infinity Audio system, UVO eServices, and a few other amenities that make driving a pleasure.
A smooth ride but not a lot of feel
Speaking of driving, the Cadenza offers up a wonderfully smooth down-the-road feel thanks to the suspension tuning. Up front is a MacPherson setup while a multi-link unit handles movement in the back. It might be smooth but it’s certainly not sporty. The steering feel is rather numb, to the point that it feels like we’re piloting a video-game character car and not a real on-road machine. That’s part of the problem with electronic power steering systems, which remove a lot of what the hydraulic ones were able to provide. On the flip side, the electric units help improve fuel economy by causing a reduction in the parasitic mechanical drag you get with a hydraulic system.
We may not love the handling, but we are funs of the engine. The 3.3-liter V6 motor mounted underhood produces 293 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. This is a directly-injected engine paired with a six-speed automatic gearbox. The combo is good for 19 miles per gallon in the city, 28 miles per gallon out on the highway, and a combined figure of 22 miles per gallon. Power comes on smoothly, and the transmission does a great job of efficiently metering out the power to the wheels.
An expensive Kia worth every penny
The automaker has one heck of a product on their hand, and it will be incredibly interesting to see if the car-buying public is ready to buy into the idea of a $40,000 Kia. We think they should give it a look because we know that the result will be surprise, a feeling of impressiveness, and then nodding approval.
Kia has outfitted the car with a long list of great features that help fill out the $40,000 price tag. The base price is $35,100 for the Premium trim, while the $38,100 Luxury trim is a step up from there. At the top of the ladder sits the fully-loaded $41,100 Technology Cadenza, and it has every bell and whistle available.
At every trim level, the 2014 Cadenza is a great looking full-size sedan that drives smoothly and is well-equipped. If you’re a shopper looking to make a break into an emerging space… your ride has arrived.