We're behind the wheel of the 2014 Kia Cadenza and it's crawling through Beverly Hills traffic like a seasoned pro. Adaptive cruise is set to 95 mph, but we're averaging something like 6. Her side of the dual-zone climate control is set to 80. Ours is set to 65.
The roughly idling bus next to us is muted by the Kia's acoustics. We're beeped by the lane departure warning system before merging. The streaming Bluetooth audio is tuning out everything else. If not for this whole steering thing, we'd just be along for the ride.
But then a crinkle brings us back into the real world. It's our Chinese takeout in the backseat and it's listing hard off the port bow. A delicate arm is stretched to its maximum, but the crinkle of plastic is getting louder. The smell of garlic is getting stronger. We're one brake application away from an order of Kung Pao carpet. A strained voice says, "I can't reach it. The backseat's too far away."
And with that one line, everything clicks and it dawns that the 2014 Cadenza is a different and altogether special full-size sedan...from Kia.
Prix Fixe In contrast to the myriad trim, package and powertrain options available in other large, front-wheel-drive sedans, the 2014 Kia Cadenza is only available in one flavor, and with few available toppings.
The only powertrain is a 3.3-liter V6 bolted to a six-speed automatic. Armed with direct injection, this engine makes 293 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 255 pound-feet of torque at 5,200 rpm. Fuel economy numbers haven't been released, but we averaged 20.6 mpg with a best tank of 28.1 mpg in mixed driving.
As for trim levels, there's one. Kia's eschewed the tactic of offering a base car with few options and a seductive low price, for a fully loaded ride that pulls out nearly all the stops. Standard features on this Kia include a back-up camera, navigation system with high-res 8-inch touchscreen, 550-watt Infinity 12-speaker stereo, heated leather seats, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry with push-button start and Bluetooth audio and phone pairing. Standard. On this Kia.
But Wait, There's More! Should you still feel that you're not thoroughly whooping the Joneses, Kia will happily sell you one, or both, of the available option packs (prices TBD). Our test car had both.
The Premium package adds a split panoramic sunroof, adaptive HID headlights, Napa leather seating surfaces, cooled driver seat, heated outboard rear seats, heated steering wheel, power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, extendable thigh support and a 7-inch TFT LCD that replaces the traditional speedometer.
Go all big-dog on the Kia and step up to the Technology package (Premium pack required) and the 2014 Cadenza gets even more impressive and slightly autonomous. Adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection, lane departure warning, hydrophobic front door window glass (blame this water-repelling feature's absence on the windshield on the sloths at NHTSA) and an electronic parking brake. The 18-inch wheels are replaced by 19s as well.
And, finally, there's a White package that blanches the Napa leather and adds wood grain trim and premium textile to the headliner, pillar trim, rear parcel shelf and sun visors.
Prototypical Our 2014 Kia Cadenza is an early production prototype and represents a slight amalgamation of the options listed above. We've got most of the White pack and most of the Technology pack, but we have 18-inch wheels instead of the 19s. Half of the trim here is wood, while half is a brushed metal look. Even if they don't visually match, the interior is immaculately prepared, with tight gaps and a quality feel to all of the buttons and actions.
While we'd prefer that the trim had matched, one "not production correct" feature of this tester we'd hate to give up is the 18-inch wheels.
Kia says that this prototype's suspension and steering are "95 percent production" with some minor tweaks to be done to combat some bump steer. We're advising them here and now, in the open, to be careful with any additional tweaks, as the Cadenza we drove is exemplary in the field.
Pavement seams are dispatched with a thunk-thunk that borders on Germanic. Bigger dips are damped away in a single stroke with none of the high-seas yachting often found in this class. Again, think German. Kia clearly did.
One area where Kia was thinking American (and maybe just a hint of Chinese) was the backseat. Not only is there a phenomenal amount of shoulder and legroom (56.3 and 36.8 inches, respectively) but the outboard seats are heated and there's audio controls located in the rear center armrest. The actual measurement numbers are only on par with the 2013 Toyota Avalon (55/40), but the Cadenza feels airier and the seat comfort is great. For all of this rear-seat comfort, you give up the ability to fold the seats. Thankfully, there's a ski pass-through and plenty of space in the trunk. Still, if an Ikea trip is on the menu, the Cadenza won't be the first pick.
Kissing Cousins The 2014 Kia Cadenza is closely related to the current Hyundai Azera, which we've had on our shores since 2012. But it doesn't take a professionally trained butt to notice the differences straight away. The Hyundai is tuned to win over the Buick/Toyota crowd. It's soft and isolated and coddling. The Cadenza's ride and steering, however, give the driver a sense of communication and occasion more in line with Acura and Infiniti.
If you needed proof that Kia and Hyundai are separate organizations doing separate things, look no further than the Cadenza. The platform is the same, but the missions are worlds apart.
Kia's new president, Peter Schreyer may have had his way with the way the car looks ("classy" and "expensive" come to mind) and how it drives, but he didn't have much say in the way it goes. The 3.3-liter V6 is the same one found in the Azera and we'd expect it to do the same 0-60 time of 6.7 seconds and about the same 15.0 seconds at 94.8-mph quarter-mile time.
The Price Debate Despite going on sale in April, official pricing for the 2014 Kia Cadenza has not been announced. That said, we think we can take a fair guess. The 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited starts at $39,650, while the 2013 Hyundai Azera starts at $33,145. While this fully loaded tester will likely tickle $40,000, a base price of $35,000 feels right.
Ultimately, the greatest threat to the Kia Cadenza's success won't be from outside forces. Unlike Lexus, Acura and Infiniti before it, Kia has decided that its budget name and reputation will not be a hindrance to selling a car for luxury level money.
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.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
2014 Kia Cadenza Overview Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2014 Kia Cadenza and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2014 Cadenza featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
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We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.
Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2014 Kia Cadenza and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2014 Cadenza 4.5 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2014 Cadenza.
Review It has been about three weeks and 1000 miles since I leased this new Cadenza. If someone would have told me 6 months ago I would be driving a Kia, I would have told them they were crazy. But I read about it in some comparison tests and was driving past the dealer, so I randomly stopped to take a look. I was impressed with the aggressive style, and the smoky blue metallic had me hooked. They pulled it right out of the showroom and off we went for a test drive. As a very loyal Toyota and Lexus owner for over 20 years, and the lack of aggressiveness (especially Lexus on the ES) to make a deal pushed me over the line and away I went in the new Cadenza.
Edmunds Value Edmunds has deep data on over 6 million new, used, and certified pre-owned vehicles, including rich, trim-level features and specs information like: MSRP, average price paid, warranty information (basic, drivetrain, and maintenance), features (upholstery, bluetooth, navigation, heated seating, cooled seating, cruise control, parking assistance, keyless ignition, satellite radio, folding rears seats ,run flat tires, wheel type, tire size, wheel tire, sunroof, etc.), vehicle specifications (engine cylinder count, drivetrain, engine power, engine torque, engine displacement, transmission), fuel economy (city, highway, combined, fuel capacity, range), vehicle dimensions (length, width, seating capacity, cargo space), car safety, true cost to own. Edmunds also provides tools to allow shopper to compare vehicles to similar models of their choosing by warranty, interior features, exterior features, specifications, fuel economy, vehicle dimensions, consumer rating, edmunds rating, and color
Available Kia Cadenza 2014 Submodel Types: Sedan
Available Trims: Premium, Limited, Technology
Exterior Colors: Snow White Pearl, Platinum Graphite, Aurora Black, Aurora Black Pearl, Smokey Blue, Metallic Bronze, Gravity Blue, Satin Metal, Silky Silver Metallic, Granite Blue
Interior Colors: Black premium leather, Beige leather, Black leather, Black Leather leather, Beige Leather leather, Black Nappa Leather premium leather, Beige premium leather, Brown Nappa Leather premium leather
Popular Features: Alarm, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Auto Climate Control, Aux Audio Inputs, Bluetooth, Heated seats, Leather Seats, Multi-Zone Climate Control, Power Driver Seat, Rear Bench Seats, Stability Control, Tire Pressure Warning, Trip Computer, USB Inputs, Electronic Folding Mirrors, Navigation, Parking sensors, Back-up camera, Post-collision safety system, Sunroof/Moonroof, Cooled Seats, Upgraded Headlights, Keyless Entry/Start, Blind Spot Monitoring, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, Pre-collision safety system, Upgraded Stereo, 360-degree camera, Heads up display, Power Liftgate/Trunk