SEATTLE, April 11, 2014 – If someone would have told me, 5 years ago, that Kia would have a flagship sedan around the $40k mark that could go head to head with cars costing much more, my face would have given you that “it’s time to take some crazy pills” look.
Well color me bad because that is exactly what Kia has done with its 2014 Cadenza. This car is one that easily goes toe-to-toe with many costing upwards of over $10,000 dollars more. It has the looks, swagger, power, comfort and amenities to cause some of the biggest German car snobs to stop and take a look.
The beauty of this car is in its lines. It feature a good hybrid of body lines between German and Japanese sedans in a very seductive if not sporty way that is begging to be driven. The front fascia still looks very “Kia” but the overall shape and flow to it does a great job of looking luxurious and sporty at the same time – a nearly perfect blend.
The engine is a powerful 3.3-liter V6 which produces 293hp @ 6400rpm and 255 lb-ft of torque @ 5200rpm. Mated to this power is a 6-speed automatic transmission that is very responsive and shifts very smoothly. It does have a manual mode as well called “Sportmatic” for those who like to have a bit more control and a sportier feel to the overall performance of this car. While the overall feel of the transmission is good it’s not great as it did have some issues rev-matching on downshifts from time to time.
Perhaps the only area of concern with the weight of this car (3755 lbs) and the formidable V6 is the fuel economy which the EPA rates at 18/28mpg for a combined mpg rating of 22. While not horrible by most accounts, it’s still something to consider.
For the money, this is easily one of the most loaded sedans money can buy – Nappa leather, heated steering wheel, Infinity Audio, GPS, power seats, heated/cooled seats and even adaptive cruise control. What’s equally impressive is the fit and finish inside as well as the use of materials that look great and have a good tactical feel to them. The UVO 8-inch touchscreen is responsive and doesn’t have any noticeable lag at all – even scrolling around a map is very quick and smooth.
There’s little inside that feels “cheap” and that doesn’t scream out “I’m a car that should sell for at least $15k more than I do” – save for a few minor quips such as the plastic on the dash but overall, it’s very comfortable and well poised inside. Leg room is very ample, as much as a 5-series BMW in the back with even more so for front passengers. Seats up front are very comfortable and supportive, even on longer trips and the rear seat comfort is very good as well.
If you’ve been following my reviews for a while then you’ll know that I have nothing but lavish praise for the Infinity audio system. It really is without equal — the 8” subwoofer behind the rear seats and the clarity of the rest of the speakers really is something to behold.
This car does an admirable job of delivering where it counts the most for most drivers – road handling and performance. Off the line, the V6 lets out a nicely muted growl as the car propels off the line like a jack rabbit. It’s not the blistering 0-60 performance of an uber-expensive sedan but still comes in at a respectable 6.3 seconds and wraps up the quarter mile in 14.8 seconds.
Around corners, the suspension achieves a good balance of ride quality to firmness and never really does feel too ‘flabby”. Is it a “world-beating” sedan for handling? No. It doesn’t have to be. All the Cadenza needs to do is deliver a smooth, comfortable, quiet ride with enough power to make it spirited to drive and on those accounts it delivers in spades.
Its main crisis may be the KIA moniker on the car as so many people these days still kind of have a stigma with the brand. All those worries should be muted once someone drives it, considers its price and industry-leading warranty and how good of a car it is to drive.
Kia has definitely done an admirable job of achieving a sedan that over-delivers for its price-point and is definitely worthy of consideration if you’re at all in the market for a mid-priced, luxury sedan. Time will tell as to whether or not it’ll turn out to be a success to Kia in terms of units sold but even if doesn’t, it’s a no-brainer car to recommend to anyone right now for around the $38k-$40k price point.