The last time Kia offered a full-size sedan in North America was 2009. That was the final model year for the largely unpopular and objectively unattractive Kia Amanti. The Amanti was quickly replaced in South Korea by the Hyundai Azera-based K7. The K7 finally reached our shores this spring as the 2014 Cadenza.
The new car succeeds the Optima as Kia’s new stateside flagship. It will retain that position until the bigger, rear-wheel drive K9 sails the Pacific sometime in the next few years. The Cadenza was designed to lure Toyota Avalon and Buick LaCrosse drivers by packing a long list of standard features into a single trim level for a very competitive price.
There’s also only one engine, a 3.3-liter V-6, which delivers 293 horsepower (hp) at 255 pound-feet (lb.-ft.) of torque and speeds the Cadenza to 60 miles per hour in just under seven seconds.
Critics have praised the Cadenza’s power, cornering and smooth ride over turbulent asphalt. Some have deducted points for a long stopping distance, but overall, drivability is rated at or near the marks set by the aforementioned competitors.
The exterior and interior styling fall right in line with the Cadenza’s contemporaries. With smooth lines, sleek head- and taillights and an understated façade, the new car was designed to fit in. The cabin sports a refined but unassuming look and real leather upholstery is standard.
Fancy fabric is merely the tip of the standard-equipment iceberg. The front seats are powered and heated. The driver’s seat is also ventilated and features an extendable thigh support cushion.
Eighteen-inch alloy wheels, a rearview camera and rear park assist, keyless ignition and entry, navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio and a 12-speaker Infinity sound system, among other items, are installed on every unit.
Three option packages, Premium, Technology and White, add further creature comforts. Premium includes upgraded leather, a split, panoramic sunroof, a 7-inch LCD in place of the gauge cluster, driver memory and a heated steering wheel and rear seats.
The Technology package adds bigger wheels and adaptive cruise control, water-repellent front windows, blind-spot and lane-departure warnings and an electronic parking brake. White brings white leather along with suede trim and wood grain accents throughout the cabin.
The 2014 Kia Cadenza is available now. Pricing starts at $35,100 and tops out at just over $41,000.