It’s been awhile since Kia has offered a large sedan. Remember the Amanti, which was last produced for 2009? Don’t feel bad, since most of our staff doesn’t either. The 2014 Kia Cadenza, however, should prove more memorable, as it fills that spot in Kia’s lineup quite nicely. This ever-improving Korean carmaker has been hitting home runs in nearly every segment recently, and the Cadenza looks like it’ll be the latest one to go soaring out of the park and onto consumers’ consideration lists.
The front-wheel-drive Cadenza is longer and wider than the Optima and essentially shares its platform with cousin Hyundai’s Azera. As such, it packs a 3.3-liter V6 with 293 horsepower along with a six-speed automatic. Kia tweaked the steering and suspension to give it a more sporting personality than its relative. But this is still more a luxury cruiser than a sport sedan. And as we’d now expect from Kia, the Cadenza offers a wealth of standard and optional high-end features along with sharp styling that manages to make it stand apart from the crowd without looking strange.
Initially, Kia offered the Cadenza in just one well-equipped trim level but later in the model year it was joined by the even more luxurious Limited version. Unlike some other competitors, the 2014 Kia Cadenza doesn’t offer other powertrain choices such as a fuel-sipping four-cylinder turbo or a hybrid. That said, we certainly have no complaint with its V6’s smooth and spirited performance.
This segment has a handful of heavy hitters that are also worthy of your scouting report. The Chrysler 300 and Toyota Avalon similarly offer effortless performance, smooth rides and roomy, well-trimmed cabins. The former offers the option of muscular V8 power while the latter also comes as a hybrid. There’s also the Buick LaCrosse and Volkswagen Passat that, like the others, offer various powertrain options, even a thrifty turbodiesel in the VW’s case. Overall, though, we think Kia’s new 2014 Cadenza is an excellent choice for a large sedan.
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Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Kia Cadenza is a large sedan that comes in two trim levels: the very well-equipped Premium and even more lavish Limited.
Standard features on the Premium include 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, rain-sensing wipers, power-folding sideview mirrors, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 10-way power driver seat, four-way power passenger seat, heated front seats and a ventilated driver seat. Standard high-tech features include a rearview camera, rear park assist, an 8-inch touchscreen display, Kia’s Uvo voice command system, a navigation system, Bluetooth phone/audio and a 12-speaker Infinity sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and USB/iPod/auxiliary audio inputs.
Optional on the Premium is the Luxury package, which includes active xenon headlights, a panoramic sunroof, a windshield wiper de-icer, a 7-inch gauge cluster display, upgraded leather upholstery, a heated and power-adjustable steering wheel, heated rear seats, driver memory settings, a power driver seat cushion extender and a power rear window sunshade.
The Limited trim includes all the above, as well as 19-inch alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control, an electronic parking brake, water-repellent front windows and blind spot/lane departure warning systems.
Optional at no cost for the Limited are a pair of color-themed packages. The White Interior package features white leather upholstery, added wood-grain accents and suede headliner/sun visor/rear shelf trim. The Gray Interior package is similar, but with a gray color scheme.
Powertrains and Performance
Every Cadenza is fitted with a 3.3-liter V6 generating 293 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. It sends its thrust to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. In Edmunds testing, the Cadenza accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds, an average time for this segment.
Fuel economy numbers stand at an EPA-estimated 22 mpg combined (19 mpg city/28 mpg highway).
Standard safety features on the 2014 Kia Cadenza include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front and rear side airbags, side curtain airbags and hill start assist. A rearview camera and rear park assist are standard, while blind-zone and lane departure warning systems are optional.
During Edmunds testing, the Cadenza came to a stop from 60 mph in 122 feet, an average performance for this class.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Cadenza its highest possible rating of “Good” in its moderate-overlap frontal offset, side impact and roof strength tests. The Cadenza’s seat/head restraint design was also rated “Good” for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
Interior Design and Special Features
Despite being loaded with upscale high-tech features, the Cadenza’s cabin manages to be cleanly styled and ergonomically friendly. Handsome design and quality materials are seen throughout, while controls for the audio, climate, phone and navigation systems are easy to find and use. The touchscreen in particular features large virtual “buttons” with logical placements. Along with Chrysler’s/Dodge’s unit, this is one of the best examples of this multitasking interface we’ve seen in any car, regardless of cost.
The Cadenza’s comfort is also top-notch, with plump, well-shaped seats front and rear that provide solid back and leg support. The cabin is roomy all around, though taller drivers may want to reconsider getting the panoramic sunroof, as it robs a few inches worth of headroom. A wide range of steering wheel and seat adjustments means drivers of all sizes should be able to get ideally situated behind the wheel.
Though it’s a large sedan, the 2014 Kia Cadenza isn’t the floaty, luxury barge you might expect. It’s composed when driven through turns, and in general this full-size Kia just feels smaller than it is. Around town, the Cadenza’s somewhat firm suspension tuning still ably absorbs broken pavement. Out on the open road, interstate cruises are serene and relaxing thanks to the quiet cabin and comfortable seating.
Performance is similarly unstressed, as the Cadenza swiftly powers up on-ramps and passes other, slower cars with ease. Power delivery is very smooth and the transmission provides timely shifts.