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2014 Kia Cadenza Review By Steve Purdy

2014 Kia Cadenza

By Steve Purdy
Michigan Bureau

Our test car this week took us to Chicago and back in some of the worst conditions ever. Lake-effect snow caused treacherous conditions in both directions along I-94 and I-294 even causing a multi-car and –truck pileup with fatalities near the junction of I-80 and I-294. Fortunately, we were not near that at the time though we had passed through just hours before.

The Kia Cadenza is not what we would have chosen for the trip had we known what the conditions would be. Without all-wheel drive we were at a distinct disadvantage against the storm. But, all things considered, the Cadenza performed well. We upper-Midwesterners are becoming more demanding of our sedans and their ability to cope with extremes of winter weather as all-wheel drive has become an option on more and more mainstream as well as up-scale sedans.

Cadenza is Kia’s full-size, 5-passenger sedan competing with many great cars like the new Impala, Toyota’s Avalon, Chrysler 300, Ford Taurus, Hyundai’s Azera and Genesis. The Genesis and Chrysler are rear-wheel drive. The others are all front-wheel drive. Cadenza and cousin Azera share a platform and drivetrain though many minor nuances of design and tuning separate the two, Cadenza considered the sportier.

One reason I have been chomping at the bit for serious seat time in the Cadenza is my fondness of the Kia Optima mid-size sedan. I’ve long considered Optima one of the best in its class because of content, style and performance. Cadenza is as good, competing well in its class as well.

Unlike most of the others, Cadenza only comes with one powertrain, a 3.3-liter V6 pumping out a solid 293 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. That’s plenty for any but the most power hungry of drivers and efficient enough for any but the most miserly. Mated to a smooth 6-speed automatic transmission with manual mode and paddle shifters it sprints from 0 to 60 mph in just about 7 seconds. The EPA rates this combination at 28 mpg on the highway, 19 in the city and 22 mph combined. We managed just over 25 mpg on our 250-mile each way road trip to Chicago in extremely cold and wet conditions. About a third of the trip each way we were below posted speeds, though, as icy roads kept us humble and cautious.

Our Cadenza “Limited” shows a base sticker price of $35,100. (The “Premium” starts at a few bucks short of $40,000.) For that we get racy-looking 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, Infinity Surround Sound audio system, navigation with 8-inch display and Kia’s Uvo voice-activated suite of apps and controls, heated leather front seats, push button start, LED lighting front and rear, heated mirrors, rain-sensing wipers and plenty more. We have the Technology and Luxury Packages at $3,000 each bringing our total sticker price to just about $42,000. Load up the competitors with equal content and the pricing will be very similar.

The interior is stylish, comfortable and reasonably luxurious with information and controls all laid out well. We immediately notice a nice analog clock in the center of the dash, always a nice touch we think. The premium white Nappa leather seats, power steering wheel tilt and telescope controls, heated steering wheel and panoramic sunroof (all part of the Luxury Package) added to a gentile ambiance. Even on rough roads the cabin is admirably quiet. Rear seat space will easily accommodate three good size passengers abreast.

Safety equipment includes plenty of airbags and all the chassis dynamics we expect in premium cars these days. Rear view camera and park assist are standard. Blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control are optional.

While our weather this week was not conducive to thorough, at-the-limits testing of handling and performance we can confidently say it will easily hold its own with anything in its class. Even on those slippery Chicago freeways in heavy, aggressive traffic we felt confident that the car would offer no surprises. The only surprise was how little slipping and sliding we experienced. The car felt poised and predictable at all times.

Kia’s warranty, one of the best in the industry, covers the whole car for 5 years or 60,000 miles and the powertrain for 10 years or 100,000 miles.

I don’t envy conscientious shoppers looking for a full-size sedan in this price range. There is enough to choose from to boggle the mind and take months to evaluate. But if you’re facing this challenge I would certainly recommend the Cadenza be on your list.

Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved