Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com
September 18, 2013
Remember the Kia Amanti? No? Well to be fair, not many people remember at all either. The Amanti was Kia's first attempt at a full-size sedan that was introduced back in 2003 as a 2004 model. The car was a flop; weird styling cues, poor performance, and Kia's not so sterling reputation at the time sealed the Amanti's fate and in 2009, it was gone.
Four years on, Kia is giving the full-size sedan another chance with the 2014 Cadenza. With a more powerful engine, better styling, long list of features, and more, Kia hopes that the second time is the charm. Is it? I spent some time with the Cadenza to find out.
The Cadenza's design is, well, kind of boring. This is from Kia, a brand that has produced some very stylish and distinctive vehicles; the Optima, Sportage, new Forte, and Soul. The Cadenza's shape is playing it safe, which I can understand. But with the likes of the new Chevrolet Impala, Toyota Avalon, Chrysler 300, and Hyundai Azera, the Cadenza looks very plain.
The overall profile reminds me of the current BMW 5-Series, especially in the back where two models have a similar design. The front end has Kia's tiger grille and distinctively shaped headlights. The side has a bold door crease and a set of nineteen-inch wheels.
Comfort is hit and miss with Cadenza. Passengers will find a pleasant amount of head and legroom, and heated seats for all. The driver gets a ten-way power adjustable seat with three-level heating and ventilation. The passenger only gets two-level heating and a four-way power seat with no height adjustment (not even manual adjustment). Both features I would expect in a vehicle that carries a pricetag of $41,900. It gets worse when you consider the 2014 Chevrolet Impala I had a few weeks back came with two-level heated and ventilated seat and height adjustment for the passenger. Add in the fact that Impala came with a pricetag that $2,490 less than the Cadenza and it's not looking that good.
As for tech, the Cadenza starts off with a configurable center gauge display. It's a bit interesting Kia decided to with this instead of a large trip computer screen and a analog speedometer since it looks a little out of place. Still, the screen was vibrant and able to show key information clearly. There is also Kia's next-generation UVO infotainment system. I'll be diving more into this in a separate review.
That's it for the software, how is the hardware? On to page two!
Powering the Cadenza is the same engine you'll find under the Hyundai Azera; a 3.3L direct-injected V6 with 293 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The V6 is very lively engine and moves the 3,792 pound vehicle with no sweat. The six-speed automatic is very refined with smooth and quick shifts. I wished Kia did not put in paddle shifters in the Cadenza since it feels out of place. Fuel economy numbers for the 19 City/28 Highway/22 Combined. My week's average in the Cadenza was around 21.2 MPG.
Show the Cadenza a curvy road and this is where things get interesting. The suspension provide firmness and a limited amount of body roll. Steering is light, but provided good feel. I would say the Cadenza is about the same as the Impala in driving fun, but I would put the Impala somewhat higher as I felt more confident in it, mostly due to the Impala's heavier steering feel.
Kia almost has a real winner with the 2014 Cadenza. They learned from their past mistakes with the Amanti and produced a vehicle that is close to a very worthy option. The only items that gives me pause are missing items on a vehicle with an almost $42,000 pricetag and a confusing center stack layout. If Kia can remedy those two items, then we'll have a real contender on our hands.
Disclaimer: Kia provided the Cadenza, insurance, and one tank of gas.
Engine: 3.3L GDI DOHC V6
Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic Transmission
Horsepower @ RPM: 293 @ 6,400
Torque @ RPM: 255 lb-ft @ 5,200
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/28/22
Curb Weight: 3,792 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Hwasung, South Korea
Base Price: $35,100.00
As Tested Price: $41,900.00* (Includes $800.00 destination charge)
Technology Package - $3,000
Luxury Package - $3,000
White Interior Package - $0.00