2014 Kia Cadenza Review

Pros & Cons

  • Strong V6
  • upscale interior
  • easy-to-use electronics interface
  • generous standard features and warranty coverage.
  • No lesser-equipped base model or fuel-efficient-engine option is offered.
Other years
List Price

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The well-rounded, well-built 2014 Kia Cadenza stands as a prime competitor in the large sedan segment.

Vehicle overview

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.

2014 Kia Cadenza models

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.

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2014 Highlights

The 2014 Kia Cadenza is an all-new model.

Performance & mpg

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.


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.


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.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2014 Kia Cadenza.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

My first 1200 miles...
Premium 4dr Sedan (3.3L 6cyl 6A)
This past weekend I took my first road trip (800mi rnd trip); I was more than thrilled with how it handled. It’s seriously autobahn ready! The Cadenza was solid at all speeds 70, 80, 90+. No matter the speed, it continued to accelerate with very little prodding; and the steering remained precise/accurate. MPG: On the 1st leg I avg’d 28.7mpg, on the 2nd I averaged 28mpg; I was NOT driving economically. :) In the city, I have averaged 22mpg so far. The features and appointments crammed into this car are ridiculous! To get the same size of car, with the same features, I would have to spend at least $15K more. In short, there are no dancing rats anywhere near this car; it is a joy to drive!
2014 Cadenza w/Technology Package
Premium 4dr Sedan (3.3L 6cyl 6A)
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.
Keep it up Kia
Premium 4dr Sedan (3.3L 6cyl 6A)
I had an optima which I really liked. Great car and gas mileage with many options. I was impressed with the craftsmanship of that car. When I took it in for service and I saw the new Cadenza I had to drive it. Well nit only did I test drive it I drove it home. I have 10,000 miles on this car already and enjoy this car more everyday. I get about 21.5 on a average for gas mileage which I don't think is bad for such a large car. Around 24-25 MPG on long trips.
Korean Cadillac?
Premium 4dr Sedan (3.3L 6cyl 6A)
I'm leasing a fully loaded Smokey Blue Cadenza with the Premium, Technology and the white Napa leather packages. I have gotten lots of compliments. The car is very good looking. I've had the car for 2 months, 2,300 miles now and am quite impressed with it. The fit and finish, the quiet and smoothness of the engine and the ride is comparable to the luxury nameplates that cost several thousand dollars more. The technology features are great and for $42K sticker it has every bell and whistle you can think of. If you are tired of paying big bucks for a prestigious hood ornament and want understated elegance and value, do yourself a favor and give this car a look!! After my 3 year lease was over, I sadly turned the Cadenza into the dealership. Overall it was a fantastic car and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a large comfortable sedan. I miss all of the technology features and the quiet and comfort it provided. The fuel economy was quite impressive for a car of its size with the 3.3 L V6 engine. Buying a used one now is the best bet. For a price point in the low $20K range you can drive in style and have all of the latest tech gadgets. I really wish Kia would add an AWD option to the sedans in their line up. Living in the northeast in hilly areas requires AWD.


IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
  • Roof Strength Test
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2014 Kia Cadenza
More About This Model

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.

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.

Used 2014 Kia Cadenza Overview

The Used 2014 Kia Cadenza is offered in the following submodels: Cadenza Sedan. Available styles include Premium 4dr Sedan (3.3L 6cyl 6A), and Limited 4dr Sedan (3.3L 6cyl 6A).

What's a good price on a Used 2014 Kia Cadenza?

Price comparisons for Used 2014 Kia Cadenza trim styles:

  • The Used 2014 Kia Cadenza Premium is priced between $11,990 and$11,990 with odometer readings between 94159 and94159 miles.

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Should I lease or buy a 2014 Kia Cadenza?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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