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2014 Kia Cadenza: Smart is the New Rich

IMG_1060Kia’s all-new 2014 Cadenza is the latest in a quickly-growing segment that you might call the ‘have-it-all sedan’: great technology, beautiful styling and a modest price point. This not-quite luxury category is giving traditional high-end carmakers a run for their money, while putting pressure on some of the dominant brands in mid-size sedans, by upping the ante on features and creature comforts. The new model is based on the Hyundai Azera platform and competes with the Buick Lacrosse Acura TL, Lincoln MKZ and the Mercedes ES. On sale now, the Cadenza starts at $31,500 with an $800 destination charge.

 Kia is on a mission to strengthen its brand that has now grown in popularity and sales worldwide and in the U.S. and is focused on improving quality with all of its models. With its flagship Cadenza, Kia says that “smart is the new rich” and the car’s designers are looking to attract a more style-conscious consumer with this “world-class sedan that is in the emerging space between mainstream and luxury”.

The Korean carmaker also notes the changing definition of wealth due to the recession and says that American buyers are changing priorities to have a richer life instead of a life of riches. The new model has eye-catching design, has been built with a top level of craftsmanship and comes with a host of standard intuitive advanced technologies and premium appointments. It also comes with Kia’s first-ever complimentary schedule maintenance. 

Cutting a pretty profile, the Cadenza has the steeply raked windshield, snipped rear end and curved, swept side–panel character lines of a sophisticated European sedan. Kia’s unique front grille, shaped like a superhero’s badge, trimmed in chrome and backed by a sporty black mesh material, is capped by narrow, slanted headlamps; chrome slivers slide across the sides and rear end. Dual oval exhaust pipes and 18-inch wheels (19 inches on higher end models) complete the sporty look. 

Inside, Cadenza is warm, inviting and practically laid out. Designed to give a “premium business-class experience”, Kia says it has the best-in-class interior volume with leading headroom, legroom and second-seat roominess. The center stack is anchored by a sweet analog clock that sits in the middle of a suite of climate controls and other buttons; an eight-inch touch screen infotainment system sits atop and traditional buttons for audio controls sit below; Kia’s UVO system has a new layer of capability and now its UVO APP and services are free. Standard technology includes navigation, a 550-watt Infinity 12-speaker audio system, Bluetooth mobile phone compatibility and a backup camera with warning alarm.  

Leather trim is standard, as are a 10-way power adjusting driver’s seat and dual-zone climate control with rear seat vents, as well as push-button start. The steering wheel is wrapped in leather and tipped with wood. Chrome accents and wood trim highlights vents and controls in a dash that is angled to be driver-centric, while one-touch power windows and locks and power folding exterior mirrors add to the high-end feeling of the cockpit. 

Cadenza comes with one powertrain: a 6-cylinder gasoline direct injection motor making 293 horsepower and 255 lb.-ft. of torque. The V6 is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with manual paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel. Kia says the fuel economy is rated at 19 city/28 highway and is 22mpg combined. IMG_1062

Formed with a body that is 60 percent high-tensile steel, Cadenza is designed to be quiet and smooth on the road. The front suspension is fully independent with a McPherson strut setup; rear suspension is a multilink design. 

During our day-long ride and drive in and out of San Diego, California, and over a swath of the Sierra Nevada foothills, we appreciated the quietness (there are triple door seals!) and the rigid chassis that is set up with a suspension system that allows you to hug the road and provides a flat ride, even in tight and twisty corners. The powertrain has torque-on-tap and we loved the intuitive and intelligent transmission that takes care of up-and-down-shifting along with Smart Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Electronic Stability Control with Vehicle Stability Management; all are on-board in a quiet manner that leaves you free to enjoy the scenery along the journey. Henry Bzeih, Kia’s Chief Technology Strategist, says “the era of the connected car has arrived and the Cadenza has 10-million miles of code, while an F-35 fighter jet has 6-million’!  

IMG_1063Kia’s new flagship is available in one trim level only, but can be ordered with one of two options packages. The standard Cadenza starts at $35,100 and comes with keyless entry and push-button start, navigation and 12-speaker stereo system, leather trim, rear camera, Bluetooth and dual-zone climate control. 

The Luxury package, priced at $38,100, adds a panoramic sunroof and power retractable sunshade, Nappa leather trim with heated rear outboard seats and ventilated 12-way adjustable driver seat, HID headlamps with adaptive front lighting system (AFLS), a seven-inch LCD instrument cluster, a heated steering wheel with power tilt and telescoping and two-position memory setting for the driver’s seat, outside mirrors and steering column. 

At the top of the lineup is the Technology package ($41,100), which includes 19-inch alloy wheels designed to resemble jet turbines, an electronic parking brake, advanced cruise control, blind-spot detection and lane-departure warning.  In addition, the front side windows feature hydrophobic technology, which 

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