For those of you following the new car market, you know the team at Kia is way serious about succeeding in the U.S. marketplace. Despite its rather rocky start some twenty years ago, things have been going quite well for the Hyundai subsidiary over the last decade. And nothing suggests confidence in the marketplace quite like a new, near-luxury entry into that market. The Kia Cadenza, with a starting point of $36K and an as-tested, fully-optioned Monroney of $42,000, is chock full of both confidence and capability. Of course, the bottom line for anyone contemplating sixty payments of $700/month (with about 20% down)…are confidence and capability enough?
The Cadenza’s appearance would certainly suggest it is. The car’s footprint, on a wheelbase of 112 inches and track of 62 inches, is substantial while still seeming athletic. Its Euro-influenced design aesthetic (under the watchful eye of Kia Motors’ president and design chief Peter Schreyer) is melded into the metal, and might very well have come from Jaguar if that company’s front-wheel/all-wheel drive X-Type had been allowed to evolve. From our own perspective on its visual, we especially liked the fill-the-wheelwells look of the Cadenza’s optional 19-inchers, a generous greenhouse and reasonable front and rear overhangs. In short, an upscale look that should wear well over those aforementioned sixty monthlies.
Inside, the Cadenza’s interior appointments met our expectations for the price point. (The only thing missing was a, uh, credenza.) Instrumentation was clearly readable and – for the most part – intuitive, the high-resolution 8-inch touch screen supplied the expected eight inches, and NPR never sounded better via the 550 watts of Infinity-produced audio. Benefiting from both Luxury and Technology packages (a combined bump of some $6K), our Cadenza received a White Interior package at ‘no additional cost’. The seats are covered in White Nappa, and the interior receives a smattering of wood grain, along with an upgraded headliner. The overall impression is of an interior you’d actually like to spend time with.
On the road, the Cadenza’s 3.3 liter V6 impresses with its more-than-adequate horsepower (293) and torque (255), but doesn’t overwhelm; power is delivered to the front wheels via Kia’s 6-speed automatic. The Cadenza goes about its business with no visible drama, save for the almost-visceral aural feedback under hard acceleration. In short, although not a drivetrain we’ll fall in love with it’s a drivetrain you’ll never find fault with. Acceleration is credible, while real world fuel economy will be as good as – or better than – the EPA’s estimate of 22 miles-per-gallon combined.
Of course, you don’t buy full-sized sedans with the idea of joining the SCCA. On those roads allowing you to be reasonably aggressive, the Cadenza provides a composed ride, communicative steering and reassuring 4-wheel disc brakes. The over-the-road sensation is just this side of European, or that side of what we once knew as ‘Buick’. And for a family sedan with luxury aspirations, it’s a good side for a long distance ride.