Used 2015 Kia Cadenza Review
Edmunds expert review
The well-rounded, well-built 2015 Kia Cadenza stands as a prime competitor in the large sedan segment.
What's new for 2015
You would be hard-pressed to find a better underdog story than the one that has unfolded for the Kia brand. Indeed, when the first Kia models arrived in the United States in the mid-1990s, they garnered about as much respect as Rocky did before he fought Apollo. The automaker has seen its credibility soar in recent years, however, as massive strides made in engineering, overall quality and styling have resulted in some truly desirable Kias. Last year, the introduction of the Cadenza gave the company a solid contender in the large sedan class.
The 2015 Kia Cadenza, which shares its platform with Hyundai's Azera, is a step up from the midsize Optima and as such is bigger and more powerful. Long gone are the days when Kias lacked muscle; the Cadenza packs a nearly 300-horsepower punch from its 3.3-liter V6 engine. That power is sent to the front wheels via a smooth six-speed automatic. Although the Cadenza has been tuned to provide a sportier drive than the Azera, it is still more a luxury cruiser than a sport sedan.
The Cadenza at once offers a lot and a little. On one hand, and as you'd expect from a Kia, the Cadenza provides a wealth of standard and optional high-end features. But on the other, this handsome sedan doesn't offer any alternative engine choices, which is a potential liability in a class where competitors offer four-cylinder turbo engines and fuel-sipping hybrid versions for buyers who want to pump up their mpg.
And good as the Cadenza is, you'd be wise to look at some of its hard-hitting rivals before making a decision. The Chrysler 300 and Toyota Avalon similarly offer effortless performance, smooth rides and roomy, well-trimmed cabins. The 300 offers the option of potent V8 power, while the Avalon also comes as a hybrid. You might also consider the Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Impala and Volkswagen Passat, which also offer a variety of engine options, even a thrifty turbodiesel in the VW's case. Overall, though, the 2015 Kia Cadenza, which earned an Edmunds "B" rating, stands as an excellent choice for a large sedan.
Trim levels & features
The 2015 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 and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 10-way power driver seat, eight-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 and 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. There's also the Technology package, which includes 19-inch wheels, water-repellent front windows, adaptive cruise control, an electronic parking brake and a suite of driver warning systems (blind spot, rear cross-traffic, lane departure). The panoramic sunroof is available as a stand-alone option.
The Limited trim includes all the above as well as upgraded exterior trim, a surround-view camera system, driver-adjustable steering effort (Flex Steer), additional wood-grain interior trim, a simulated suede headliner, rear parcel shelf and sun visors, LED lighting, an analog clock and a fold-down rear armrest with a USB port. The Limited also offers a trio of color-themed packages at no added cost. The White Interior package features white leather upholstery, while the Black and Gray Interior packages are similarly executed with their respective colors.
Performance & mpg
Every Cadenza is fitted with a 3.3-liter V6 engine generating 293 hp 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.
Standard safety features on the 2015 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 parking sensors are standard on the Premium, while blind-spot, rear cross-traffic and lane departure warning systems are optional. All of this is standard on the Limited, which also gets a more deluxe surround-view camera system.
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 2015 Kia Cadenza isn't the floaty, luxury barge you might expect. It's composed when driven around turns, and in general, this full-size Kia just feels smaller than it is. When you're driving in town, the Cadenza's somewhat firm suspension tuning ably absorbs broken pavement. 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 slower cars with ease. Power delivery is very smooth, and the automatic transmission provides timely shifts.
Although loaded with upscale high-tech features, the Cadenza's cabin is 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 a multitasking electronics 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.
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
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.