2014 Kia Cadenza: Road Trip to the Track
December 3, 2014
Sometimes as we near the end of the year with a long-termer, we need to make a final push to get the miles past the 20,000-mile mark. This was the case with our 2014 Kia Cadenza, but not by much. In the last update, I hit the milestone about 200 miles outside of L.A. Honestly though, I would have gladly taken the Cadenza either way because I really wanted something comfortable and quiet because I had a lot of driving ahead of me and it was a quick turnaround.
I drove up on a Saturday night to stay in a rundown hotel (4th floor, no elevator) and dine at my usual haunt. I woke up the next morning and headed out.
The reason for the trip? To drive this:
I had the distinct pleasure and a whole lotta luck to get invited to drive the McLaren 650S around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Yes, it's fast. I spent about 20 minutes lapping the track with a pro driver beside me. He was very adamant about getting the car straightened out over turn one and lifting off the throttle, and for good reason. The car gets really light over the rise and any steering input would probably put me into the wall. Hard.
There was also a fun little autocross course to showcase the handling limits without risking a high-speed wreck. In track mode, it let me get the tail whipping around quite a bit. Fun is an understatement.
We wrapped around noon and I decided to make the trek back to Monterey to check out the Aquarium with my girlfriend. It's definitely worth the $35 or so to get in. After a few hours there, we headed right back to L.A. and that's when I really appreciated the Cadenza.
A smooth quiet ride, ventilated seats and adaptive cruise control made the five-hour trip much more civilized. On the drive up I managed to get 17.9 mpg, but I wasn't driving very economically. On the return trip, I was more docile after driving on track and being calmed by sea creatures. I got 27.1 mpg. Ten hours and 676 miles is a lot for the time I spent up there, but well worth it. My next goal: try to convince McLaren to get us a long-termer. Yeah, right.
Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 20,543 Miles