2014 Kia Cadenza Limited Long-Term Road Test: Introduction
December 13, 2013
Kia's got a reputation with American shoppers, one that generally rings the "low price" and "great warranty" bells. That worked when the company was new to the scene, but now it wants to take a big step forward with cars that compete in higher price categories while still delivering huge value.
The all-new 2014 Kia Cadenza is a major step in that direction. It's a big four-door sedan packed with luxury touches and high-tech features. With a $36,000 base, it's easily the most expensive car the brand has ever sold in the U.S. But can it compete against long-entrenched luxury brands with well-known names and desirable reputations? We've got 12 months to find out just that.
What We Got
Kia has decided to avoid the traditional luxury play of oodles of options with the 2014 Cadenza. Instead, it's offering the car in two trims with minimal options. A Premium Cadenza starts at $35,900 and gets a 293-horsepower 3.3-liter V6, six-speed automatic transmission, voice-activated navigation with 8-inch display, back-up sensors, 19-inch wheels, dual-zone climate control, heated leather 10-way power driver seat (four-way power passenger seat), stainless-steel illuminated door scuff plate, push-button start and more.
Kia loaned us a Limited model, which starts at $43,200. It adds chromed-out 19-inch wheels, a heated steering wheel, blind spot monitor, panoramic sunroof, HID headlights, LED foglights, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning system, 7-inch TFT display in the dash, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, powered rear sunshade, Napa leather, extendable thigh support and cooled seats.
The only actual option our test car has is the $50 cargo net, which makes this a $43,250 Kia Cadenza.
Why We Got It
The full-size sedan segment is shrinking. Midsize sedans have gotten bigger and bigger, and buyers wanting that traditional "big car feel" have mostly moved to SUVs. It's a shame, too, because the current crop of full-sizers is better than it's ever been. The new Toyota Avalon is powerful, comfortable, good-looking and maybe the best-driving Toyota available. And then there's the all-new 2014 Chevy Impala, a car that sucker-punched the entire segment by transforming from a rental queen into something truly desirable. Of course, there's also the Hyundai Azera, which is closely related to our all-new Cadenza. They even have the same engine.
It's a competitive field, but Kia's hoping that it can build some separation from the group with standout styling, a deep feature set and a price that is competitive, not cheap. But jumping that $40,000 barrier in a Kia is still a risky move. In our Cadenza First Drive we said: "The 2014 Kia Cadenza surprised us with an elegant combination of driving dynamics, build quality and easy-to-use tech features. But it won't do that for anyone who can't see beyond the badge."
Now we've got 12 months and 20,000 miles to see beyond the badge and if this 2014 Kia Cadenza Limited really can live up to its promises and its price tag.
Best MPG: 23.6
Worst MPG: 23.6
Average MPG: 23.6
The manufacturer provided this vehicle for the purpose of evaluation.