2014 KIA Cadenza Premium

Cadenza delivers solid luxury, stellar looks

After a week of hearing jokes from colleagues about me driving a piece of office furniture, a more musically minded friend clued me in to the KIA Cadenza sedan’s true meaning.cad

For non-music majors, cadenza is usually an improvised ornamental passage, played or sung by a soloist, often at the end of a piece. Think of all the fru fru add-ons today’s singers often give us at the conclusion of the national anthem, for instance. You know: … “the home of the … braaaaaave, aaaaave, aaaaave!”

One assumes KIA was aiming more for the creativity and ornamental implications of the name. Surely the new large luxury-leaning sedan is a sparkling new addition to KIA’s lineup, and its styling, while not earth-shattering, borders on sporty luxury. It is certainly better looking and more original than say a Lexus, more along the lines of an Infiniti.

But to me it compared well with the previous week’s tested Chevy Impala. Both are nearly identical in dimension, riding on roughly 112-inch wheelbases. The Impala is 6 inches longer, contributing to its giant 18.8 cubic foot trunk, while Cadenza’s is a generous 15.9.

Both have roomy comfortable interiors, with plenty of leg, knee and headroom for four or five adults. I ran up to Road America in the Cadenza with a couple buddies and the back seat was deemed extraordinarily roomy and comfy.

Cadenza only comes in the Premium trim at present, starting at a rather lofty $35,100, just about where the Impala ended, with options. With its own impressive array of options, the Cadenza hit $41,900.

Cadenza's special two-tone black and white Nappa leather interior is sumptuous.
Cadenza’s special two-tone black and white Nappa leather interior is sumptuous.

Yet the Cadenza interior looks more the luxury car part, with perforated white Nappa leather seats and a soft black textured dash with black fake wood trim on the dash, doors and console and a thick leather-wrapped wheel with wood-like top portion. A gray roof liner adds to the ritzy look.

While the exterior is handsome, especially the front grille, Cadenza’s interior look, comfort and sleek efficient dash  really sets it apart, from most near-luxury and luxury sedans.

Cadenza’s hooded gauges are easy to see and understand and the climate and radio controls spread plainly and efficiently across the dash in a stylish yet manageable layout. Basically there are two lines of controls, the top including the 7-inch video screen with climate controls and a clock, while below that is a row for the radio and navigation system. Brilliant!

Below that is a hidden bin with a 12-volt hookup, USB and auxiliary power plug. HomeLink is overhead in the mirror, and a dual panoramic sunroof, part of the luxury package that adds $3,000, is featured here. That package also includes a power tilt/telescope steering wheel, power rear window sunshade along with cooled driver’s seat, heated steering wheel and that white leather seating. The car’s suede visors also slide. Perfect!

Other goodies in the test car included a radar-based cruise control system, blind-spot detection and lane departure warning systems and an upgrade to 19-inch alloy wheels and 19-inch tires. That adds another $3,000 to the car’s cost.

Standard though is an impressive Infinity Discrete Logic 7 surround sound stereo system, with 12 speakers and 550 watts to back it up. This baby rocks and sounds great.

Cadenza's driver's seat features a power extender for the bottom cushion to make long-legged drivers more comfortable.
Cadenza’s driver’s seat features a power extender for the bottom cushion to make long-legged drivers more comfortable.

Cadenza’s front seats feature fairly flat bottom cushions, but well contoured back cushions and the driver’s seat includes power lumbar support and an extendable front to the lower cushion for long-legged drivers. There is a two-button memory system for the driver’ seat too. Seating in back is soft wide and comfortable, even for taller riders.Performance?

Like the Impala last week, the Cadenza features a quiet and powerful direct-injected V6 with aluminum block. This one is a 3.3-liter V6 that creates 293 horsepower, just 12 less than the Chevy.  Yet power is quite good, getting the car up to highway speeds quickly and quietly.

The V6 is linked up with a silky 6-speed automatic transmission that provides seamless shifts, reinforcing the luxury car feel. It also includes the Sportmatic feature that allows you to shift manually, if you please. There was no need!

For a large car the V6 provides good gas mileage. I got 25.5 mpg. vs. the EPA estimate of 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. My driving was about 60% highway, which explains why it was about 1 mpg better than the Impala I had the previous week and in which I ran fewer highway miles.

Cadenza has plenty of ponies under the hood and oodles of storage room in the trunk.
Cadenza has plenty of ponies under the hood and oodles of storage room in the trunk.

Handling is good with a light steering feel, but decent responsiveness that provides Cadenza a pleasant road feel, both in town or on the highway. KIAs seem to regularly have a better steering feel than their sister Hyundai vehicles, so KIA engineers appear to have a better handle on steering feel.

Ride also is pleasant, but not quite as refined feeling as some large cars, including the superbly tuned Impala. Despite MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link suspension in back I felt some ride abruptness on crumbling cement city streets, while highway drives were impressively smooth.

Braking comes from four wheel discs that include stability and traction control, the norm in today’s mid-size to larger cars and trucks.

Price might surprise some buyers, but you get quite a lot with Cadenza, and it takes a step up, both in looks and comfort, from standard large family sedans. This one exudes luxury, but still at the low-end of luxury sedan pricing.

Cadenza's dash is stylish and well laid out.
Cadenza’s dash is stylish and well laid out.

FAST Stats: 2014 KIA Cadenza Premium

Hits: Classy, luxury look sedan with quiet ritzy white leather interior that’s roomy enough for five adults. Attractive dash with efficient button layout, twin sunroofs, rearview camera and blind-spot warning, plus power rear sunshade and heated tilt/telescope steering wheel and cooled driver’s seat. Smooth, light steering feel, seamless shifts and good gas mileage.

Misses: Ride is not as refined as some large cars.

Made in: South Korea

Engine: 3.3-liter, DI V6, 293 hp

Transmission: 6-speed automatic w/Sportmatic

Weight: 3,792 lbs.

Wheelbase: 112 in.

Cargo: 15.9 cu.ft.

MPG: 19/28

Base Price: $35,100

Dealer’s Price: $32,455

Major Options:

Technology package (smart cruise control, blind-spot detection, lane departure warning, electronic park brake, hydrophobic front door windows, 19-inch alloy wheels), $3,000

Luxury package (panoramic sunroofs, HID adaptive headlights, Nappa leather interior/seats, power driver’s seat extension, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, ventilated driver’s seat, 7-inch color monitor, power tilt/telescope steering wheel, integrated memory system, power rear sunshade), $3,000

Delivery: $800

Test vehicle: $41,900

Sources: KIA, www.autos.yahoo.com

Photos: Courtesy of KIA

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