Auto Review: Cadenza: A new flagship for Kia

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., Oct. 3, 2013
- Contributed Photo

It’s one thing to launch an all-new automobile into the uncertainties of the marketplace; it’s quite another to do so in a category that you’re not normally associated with. Kia Motors has long been considered to be both an economical and sporty nameplate, aimed primarily toward entry-level buyers with more limited budgets. But the cars have delivered a lot of features for the money, and an entertaining driving experience as well. Over the last few years, the company has been steadily improving its offerings to compete with the best of the competition in categories ranging from cool urban transports to crossover SUVs and performance sedans.

Now Kia is launching a new flagship sedan into the North American market that it calls the Cadenza, which is described as, “The Most Powerful and Technologically Advanced Kia offered in the U.S.” It’s a case where Kia is showing the buying public that they can compete in a whole new category with manufacturers from all over the world, and do so at a very competitive price, while still delivering good fuel economy.

Riding on a 112-inch wheelbase, the front-drive Cadenza is considered to be a full-size sedan and is powered exclusively by the most powerful V6 Kia has ever offered.  At 3.3-liters, this engine features Direct Injection and produces 293 horsepower, which in turn gets to the pavement via a six-speed Sportmatic automatic transmission. This gearbox has a manual mode using paddle shifters on the steering wheel, and the powertrain regularly took us to 60 mph in just under 8 seconds.

Refinement is on a par with most of the class in terms of smoothness and response, and the handling of the Cadenza is a definite strong point, with good balance, crisp steering response and very good control under hard cornering. This is aided by MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link rear design with dual flow rear shock absorbers. The bottom line is a good mix of comfort and handling sharpness, with the scales tipped a bit toward the driving enjoyment side, as opposed to road isolation.

The Cadenza interior is both handsome and free of excessive ornamentation, with the driver getting a welcome return to more conventional controls that are much more logical than a lot of the newer concepts that can be vexing at first. The leather adorning the seats is supple, but more lateral support would be welcome, considering the car can handle some spirited cornering. A panoramic glass roof (part of the Luxury package) increases the feel of roominess to the rear seats, and the Technology Package included Advanced Smart Cruise Control, Blind Spot Detection and Lane Departure Warnings, as well as Hydrophobic front side windows to aid wet weather visibility. The latest in UVO telemetrics and a Navigation System (with an 8-inch display/backup camera) and an excellent Infinity sound system are standard on all models.

The 2014 Kia Cadenza is EPA rated 19 MPG city/28 highway and has a base price of $35,100. With options, our sticker came to $41,900.

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