Kia Cadenza

2016 Kia Cadenza

The Kia Cadenza is a full-size sedan with front-wheel drive introduced for 2014 that shares the Kia showroom with the full-size Kia K900 with rear-wheel drive.

Nicely styled and appropriately packaged, the Cadenza is a serious contender in its class, compelling for its combination of comfort, premium features and value.

For 2016, Cadenza is available in a less-expensive base model that retails for $32,990. Otherwise, there are no major changes for 2016.

Though closely related to the Hyundai Azera, the two differ significantly. Azeras flowing design, with sculpted sheetmetal, stands apart from the Kia Cadenzas tauter, athletic appearance.

With its 293-horsepower, 3.3-liter V6 developing 255 pound-feet of torque, mating with a 6-speed automatic transmission, the Cadenza feels at least as responsive as other big front-drive premium sedans. Its light steering and lack of road feel preclude the Cadenza from being called sporty. Instead, its an impressively pleasant and quiet-riding large sedan, suffering nearly no wind or road noise. Add impressive interior materials, including the leather upholstery that comes standard, and the Cadenza becomes worthy of notice.

Well-equipped even in base trim, the Cadenza can easily move up the luxury scale. Active-safety features are affordable, though not standard. Choosing the Cadenza SX Limited edition or adding a Luxury Plus Package and a Technology Package to the Premium model brings a panoramic sunroof, power retractable sunshade, Nappa leather ventilated seats, smart cruise control, blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane departure warning, all without passing the $45,000 mark.

Mating with a paired smartphone, Kias UVO eServices suite includes roadside assistance, a diagnostics assistant, and a parking minder. The touchscreen system responds adeptly to voice commands. Plenty of traditional buttons are included, too.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not crash-tested the Cadenza, but it earned top Good scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Its not yet been subjected to the newer small-overlap test.

2014 Kia Cadenza

The new 2014 Kia Cadenza is the first full-size flagship for the Korean automaker. Cadenza seats five comfortably and looks like an Audi.

The Kia Cadenza is front-wheel drive and shares its basic structure with the Hyundai Azera. Compared with the midsize Kia Optima, Cadenza rides on a wheelbase that's two inches longer, and has a body that's five inches longer overall. It's also about an inch higher.

A 3.3-liter V6 engine with direct injection powers Cadenza, good for 293 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. The V6 is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission, with EPA estimated fuel economy at 19/28 mpg City/Highway. Kia shares this V6 with Hyundai. We found Cadenza accelerates smoothly and has ample power but has to work hard when charging up mountains.

Inside the cabin, design and materials are surprisingly refined. Controls are well laid out and intuitive, and the color touchscreen is easy to use and read. Upgraded Nappa leather upholstery is soft, and the headliner has a suede-like feel. An analog clock in the middle of the center stack is reminiscent of luxury brands like Infiniti, although certain small pieces here and there have a parts-bin look, like the rocker switch for the door locks that sit on the side arm rests.

Competitors to the 2014 Kia Cadenza include other full-size sedans such as the Buick LaCrosse, the all-new Chevrolet Impala, the Ford Taurus, the Hyundai Azera, the Nissan Maxima, and the Toyota Avalon. Kia hopes that with all its included bells and whistles, the Cadenza will squeeze into a sweet spot for shoppers looking for something between a standard family car, and a luxury sedan such as the Acura TL, Lexus IS, or Lincoln MKZ.

Cadenza comes loaded with standard features that normally rack up thousands of dollars in options, including leather upholstery, pushbutton start, a premium sound system and even navigation with free traffic and telematics features. The Cadenza also comes with three years of included scheduled maintenance and a 10-year/100,000-mile basic warranty.

Audio, information and entertainment are provided via Kia's UVO system, powered by Microsoft. Originally launched as a voice recognition system, UVO has been expanded and comprises the entire user interface, controlled from an 8-inch color touch screen. UVO has many features that are now common on most manufacturers' user interfaces, like Pandora streaming Internet radio and Zagat restaurant guides. Complimentary software updates can be downloaded by the user and uploaded to the car by SD card.

A telematics system similar to GM's OnStar and Hyundai's Blue Link comes standard with UVO, with automated 911 notification, scheduled vehicle maintenance alerts, on-demand car diagnostics, pre-loaded directions via Google send-to-car, and other features. But unlike most manufacturers that charge a subscription fee for these services, Kia offers Cadenza owners all the emergency features free for the life of the car, and everything else free for 10 years. Users can access vehicle information remotely via a free companion smartphone app for Apple and Android operating systems.


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