Despite the success of the Kia Optima, the South Korean manufacturer still doesn’t receive the attention it deserves. The 2014 Kia Cadenza, a debut vehicle in 2013 as a 2014 model, should provide the carmaker with more respect as an underdog.
The Kia Cadenza joins the Hyundai Genesis and Hyundai Equus as the trio of South Korean luxury cars sold in the United States. Hyundai owns Kia, and the Cadenza shares a platform with the Hyundai Azera, although the Cadenza is sportier than its cousin.
The Weekly Driver Drive
It was my second time with Kia Cadenza in recent months, this time with the Limited edition.
Like the previous Kia I drove, the Cadenza Limited is the follow-up for the Kia Amanti. The Weekly Driver picked it among its top-10 Cars of the Year in 2008. It wasn’t a popular choice, but I appreciated the car as a value-priced sedan. It had handsome styling, a comfortable ride and a great warranty. It was gone one year later.
Fast-forward six years, and the Kia Cadenza, joins a healthy list of large quality sedans. The Chrysler 300, Toyota Avalon, Buick LaCrosse and Volkswagen Passat are among the top choices in the segment.
The 2014 Kia Cadenza features a 293 horsepower V6 with a six-speed automatic transmission that offers sportmatic shifting as an option to manually shifting the gears.
Like other Kia models, the Cadenza combines value, a healthy list of standard and optional features, a commendable, smooth drive and the strongest warranty in the automotive industry.
Standard features on the 2014 Kia Cadenza 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.
My weekly test vehicle included all three option packages and elevated the MSRP exactly $6,000 to just under $42,400.00
The Premium Package: active xenon headlights, a panoramic sunroof, a windshield wiper de-icer, a 7-inch gauge cluster display, upgraded leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, driver memory settings, a power driver seat cushion extender and a power rear window sunshade.
The Technology Package is included in the Limited Edition and features standard: 19-inch alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control, an electronic parking brake, water-repellent front windows and blind spot/lane departure warning systems.
Also on the Limited edition as options (and without further cost) are a good host of nifty upgrades: 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.
I’ve now driven the Kia Cadenza on three extended trips. The most recent was a 200-mile, one-way trip to the Monterey Peninsula. As I’ve experienced many times before, the, the route includes high-speed flat and wide-open stretches on Interstate 5 trio the winding and oddly contoured roads of Highway 152 near the San Luis Reservoir.
Last November, I drove the Kia Cadenza on a was 800-mile, round-trip trek with a friend from Sacramento to the Los Angeles Auto Show. We primarily drove on freeways and highways and often at least five miles per hour faster than the speed limit. We averaged 26.2 miles per miles on the north-to-south journey and 26.8 on the return trip.
My first extended drive with the Cadenza was a solo 400-mile round-trip trek from Sacramento to the Monterey Peninsula. Again, the journey was also primarily on freeways and highways. I averaged 28.2 mpg.
The Cadenza offers a smooth drive and it’s comfortable. It’s steady on the road and while not performance-oriented, its 293 horsepower is plenty. The Cadenza several times confidently negotiated challenging driving scenarios, including ascending and descending the infamous Grapevine on Interstate 5 which in heavy rain and strong winds.
A sedan worthy of appreciable consideration, the 2014 Kia Cadenza was lacking in only one area. The navigation system was often slow to respond and the system overall needs a makeover with better screen display options.
Two-tone exterior: Snow white body/Pearl Black top.
Powerful V6 engine.
Comfortable, sporty handling.
Heated steering wheel and heated front and back seats.
Advance Smart Cruise Control (ASCC) reduces speed when advancing too close to the vehicle ahead. It’s a smooth-operating, quality safety feature more carmakers should consider.
Navigation system not intuitive and inconsistent.
Wind rush in the side windows at high speeds.
Back seats don’t fold down.
Odd-shaped front grille.
Facts & Figures: 2014 Kia Cadenza
Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 6.7 seconds.
Fuel economy: 219 mpg (city), 28 mpg (highway), 22 mpg (combined), six-speed automatic transmission with sportmatic shifting.
Government Safety Ratings: NHTSA, not tested.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $42,400.
Manufacturer’s Web site: kia.com.
Price As tested: $43,250.00
Warranty: Bumper-to-bumper, 5 years/60,000 miles; Powertrain, 10 years/100,000 miles; Roadside Assistance, 5 years/60,000 miles.
What Others Say:
“Seven days behind the wheel left me, and a handful of impartial teenagers, convinced that the new 2014 Kia Cadenza has what it takes to challenge for segment leadership. But those who spend $40,000 are often looking for more than just a strong value proposition.” —- Autoblog.com.
“As long as the Cadenza and its Hyundai counterparts are sold under the same brand name as the companies’ modest models, they’ll struggle to imply any value beyond what they offer in features and quality.” —- Cars.com.
“The 2014 Kia Cadenza is an impressive new entry into the premium sedan segment, and with its sharp styling and ample amenities it even pushes into entry-luxury territory. The arrival of the 2014 Kia Cadenza should cause concern among competitors such as Honda and Toyota, and also give car buyers shopping for a reasonably priced full-size sedan more for their money.” —- MSNAuto.com.
The Weekly Driver’s Final Words
“Throughout its trim lines, the 2014 Kia Cadenza holds its own against all of the choices on the near luxury sedan list. Its odd name and still unfortunate lack of recognition could it back. And that’s a shame.”
Article Last Updated: April 22, 2014.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.