Review: 2014 Kia Cadenza

Through their partnership with Hyundai Motor Company, Kia is moving to the top of the heap in research and development as well as design.  With the new for 2014 Cadenza they set their sights on luxury with a vehicle that truly is impossible to ignore.

Under the Hood:  IMG_9934-2

With only one trim level available, Kia’s 293hp, 3.3 liter V6 is the standard Cadenza engine.  It is mated to their 6-Speed Electronically Controlled Sportmatic transmission, an automatic with the option to manually upshift and downshift via wheel mounted paddle shifters or the console mounted shifter.  Acceleration is readily available while the transmission works silently behind the scenes to provide smooth efficient power regardless of the demands placed on it.  Other manufacturers are moving toward seventh and eighth gear transmissions, but two extra gears were not missed when it came to our experience.

Starting from a stop gave no reason to doubt the reported 6.3 second 0-60mph time.  Passing on the interstate resulted in undetectable downshifts and plenty of power in reserve.

The Cadenza stopped easily and smoothly on its four wheel disc brakes.  There was no jerk during any acceleration or stopping and the transition from stop to start in city driving was smooth.

2014 Kia CadenzaThe cruise control was flawless operating under highway conditions; however, our rural road test of the system was a bit disappointing.  The Cadenza accelerated to roughly 20mph over the set speed on the downhill and took a bit longer than we like to begin accelerating on the uphill.  Once the acceleration began it was slow in bringing us back up to speed.

Everything under the hood combined to make driving the Cadenza a very comfortable experience. With controllable handling that didn’t make you feel like you were just steering, the car connected with the roadway in ways that would make modern American sedans jealous. Just like a Mercedes or a BMW, it’s clear the Cadenza is meant to be driven.


A 2011 USA Today article brought together the heads for four major vehicle manufacturers to discuss the new definition of luxury.  A fitting contribution from the article invoked Justice Potter Stewart’s famous statement, “I know it when I see it.”  We knew we were dealing with a luxury vehicle as soon as we approached the Cadenza.

The corporate grille known as the Tiger Nose serves as the focus point of the design aesthetic.  The grille and fascia are reminiscent of a Jaguar XF, and the creases in the hood resemble an Aston Martin.  The design suggests performance and sophistication—we caught ourselves stopping before getting in the car more than once just to enjoy the view.

2014 Kia Cadenza

Also impressive was the coverage of the Cadenza’s windscreen wipers. Despite the over-zealousness of many of the automatic settings, we were blown away by the amount of space covered by one swoop of the wipers even in a heavy downpour. The Hydrophobic Front Door Window Glass also made the side windows easy to see out of from drizzling conditions to a frog strangler.  We’re very interested in seeing how they perform with snow.

The Hankook tires that came on the Cadenza were the best tires we’ve ever driven on. They handled highway, city and rural driving with ease. As we drove through the rainstorm, hydroplaning did not even appear to be an option. There was no stuttering, swerving or loss of control.

We also liked the idea of the side mirrors that folded in. While folding mirrors are not a particularly exciting feature, they do add an extra sense of space security with street and garage parking.


The Cadenza is available in one Premium trim level featuring three options packages—Luxury Package, Technology Package, and White Interior Package.  Our tester was equipped with the Luxury Package.

2014 Kia Cadenza

The seating was definitely luxurious. Driver and passenger seats were soft enough to provide long term comfort, but firm enough to provide support when cornering.  The front seats moved much further forward than other vehicles we’ve driven creating an optimal amount of space for cleaning and finding that lost LEGO piece.

Legroom in the front and rear seats was great as was the hip room (55.5” in the front and 54.7” in the rear).  Our rear seat passengers, from the tallest to the shortest, were comfortable and likely would have traveled without complaint on a lengthy road trip.

Chances are you’ve experienced a heated seat. What about a cooled seat? The Cadenza has heated and ventilated seats for all of its passengers. We tested the sunroof on a particularly steamy day in Atlanta and were pleased to find that in stop and go traffic, with the ventilated seat option engaged, it was the perfect blend of cooling for those days when you just don’t want to turn on the A/C.

2014 Kia Cadenza

One of the best interior features of the Cadenza is its ability to block out the noise of the road, traffic, and rain. Closing the sunroof interior panel made it seem like the rest of the world had gone away. Even with the sunroof open the usual rushing air noise was stifled by the power-retractable sunshade.

The back windshield is equipped with another power-retractable sunshade which blocks much of the downward glare for rear passengers. Proving just how much Kia has thought through the Cadenza, the shade automatically lowers when the driver puts the car in reverse and then rises again when the car is shifted into drive.

2014 Kia Cadenza

The Cadenza comes equipped with a 550 watt surround-sound Infinity audio system featuring AM/FM stereo, MP3 connections, a SiriusXM receiver and the increasingly rare CD player.  The audio system, along with climate control, UVO eServices infotainment system, and SD Card based navigation were controlled via 7” LCD touchscreen display as well as analog controls on the steering wheel and center stack.  The touchscreen was a quick study. Every control and screen change was intuitive. We didn’t find the need to pick up the UVO manual once.

All of the features that automakers historically know as luxury brands have been boasting about recently are available in the Cadenza, many of them standard.  This list includes back up camera, panoramic sunroof, adaptive lighting systems that swivel headlights as you round a curve, heated and ventilated seats, blind spot and lane departure warning systems, dual zone automatic climate control, app connectivity and an auto hold feature that eliminates idle creep even on hills.  It would be difficult to find a vehicle with more standard luxury features.

Important Numbers for Families:

Family 5 Test:

  1. Car Seats– Two car seats easily fit in the rear seat and were easy to install and remove.  Rear seat space was expansive enough our two Junior Testers easily ignored each other and kept to themselves.
  2. Coffee Cups– A standard large coffee cup fits easily into the Cadenza’s cup holders.  The holders were large enough we briefly worried the first time we took a curve and out cups shifted; however, we never suffered a spill. A larger bottle cup holder is available in the front doors but disappointedly did not easily fit a 20 oz. Coca-Cola bottle.
  3. Golf Cubs– A set of golf clubs easily fit into the Cadenza’s spacious trunk.  While we did not have a second set to use in our test we’re pretty sure a second set would have fit with ease. The Cadenza also offers a peek-through trunk space for easy maneuvering from the back seat.
  4. Luggage– Like the rest of the Cadenza, the trunk had an unexpected amount of room and our luggage easily fit. While not as spacious as an SUV, getting the luggage in and out was not a problem.
  5. Groceries–  Impressively, when bags of groceries were placed in the trunk, they didn’t scoot around the space at all on the windy drive back home. With the front seats moved into a comfortable position, there was still plenty of room for several bags on the floor behind the seats.

The Bottom Line:

We were more than impressed with the Kia Cadenza. It blew away our expectations and is certainly a viable option for families looking to step up from their current mid-level sedan. The handling is great, standard features are excellent and it left us looking forward to the next time we drive one.

Her Final Word_Kia Cadenza

His Final Word_Cadenza

Photo Gallery:

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Special thanks to Howell Lary at North Fulton Kia in Roswell, Georgia for all his help with this post. If you’d like to learn more about the Kia Cadenza or to schedule a test drive, you can reach Howell at (404) 996-0100.

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