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Kia Ups the Ante

2014 Kia Cadenza

Kia is no longer one of those cars you buy just because it has a great warranty—even though, yes, it does.

Years ago, who would have ever figured there’d be a $35,000 Kia? After the new Optima was unveiled a couple of years ago, you knew it would only be a matter of time before the Korean automaker took the next step. The (imho) unfortunately named Cadenza, which I picked up from West-Herr Kia sales consultant Tom DeMarzio one recent drizzly morning, is just about everything one could want from a car in this category: up-to-the-minute styling; comfortable interior; excellent road manners; features, features, features; and, of course, the aforementioned 10-year/100,000-mile warranty.

Let’s break it all down. The styling definitely takes some cues from the very popular Optima—if anything, the Optima’s look has been refined here, with the roofline more gracefully breaking into the rear deck, and the front not quite as sporty but yet not at all dowdy.

The interior was very inviting. Easy to get into, front and back; the seats, while comfortable on our test drive (the Wife came along to lend a new set of eyeballs), I thought could have used a bit more side support; the back seat had plenty of head and leg room (even with the intrusion of a sunroof), but contains only a pass-thru to the trunk instead of a 60/40 fold-down arrangement (I guess manufacturers of cars in this category figure if you’re carrying something larger, you probably have a larger vehicle in your driveway to do the job); fit and finish was very good, although Tracy commented on the satiny-looking finish on the door handles and a few other pieces of trim, saying that for $35,000 they looked rather cheap; she did however, fall in love with the heated front seats and steering wheel; the sound system was great and we could have easily driven around all day listening to XM’s “’40s on 4”; and that steering wheel—the heated part was fab, but there are so many functions, such as audio, bluetooth, cruise, and the shift paddles mounted to the back side—it’s all getting to be a bit too much. I know they all do it these days, but there’s an awful lot going on there. Just behind the interior is a massive trunk, capable of hauling almost 16 cubic feet of your stuff—and of course, those long skinny things which will fit in the pass-through.

You want features? How about a power rear window shade; rear camera display; power-adjustable driver’s seat-cushion extension; Infinity surround-sound audio with 12 speakers; voice-command nav system with eight-inch display; push-button start; perforated, cooled driver’s seat; and one of my favorites—a round, analog clock smack-dab in the middle of the dashboard.

While driving the Cadenza I soon decided that it passed my ultimate test as a car I’d desire for a long trip. It’s quiet, and it’s responsive—all Cadenzas are powered by a 3.3-liter DOHC V-6, rated at 293 horsepower and connected to an electronically controlled six-speed automatic transmission with Sportmatic manual shift paddles. The EPA rates the Cadenza at 19/28 miles per gallon city/highway.

Pricing on the Cadenza premium starts at $35,100. The test car was equipped with the luxury package, which consisted of sunroof, HID adaptive front lighting system, power tilt & telescope wheel, ventilated driver seat, extendable driver’s seat cushion, heated steering wheel, seat memory, nappa leather, heated rear seats, and power rear window shade—all for $3,000. There’s also a Limited version which starts at $42,400 (see details online).

All-in-all, I think that once premium car shoppers get over the fact that they’re in a Kia showroom, and just drive the car, they’ll be asking “Where do I sign?”

More info at

Read more of Jim Corbran's You Auto Know every other week in Artvoice, and more frequently on Artvoice Daily.

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