2014 Kia Cadenza followup review: A Kia in winter

2014 Kia Cadenza

2014 Kia Cadenza

As luck would have it, this follow-up test for the 2014 Kia Cadenza wound up during a cold snap on freshly fallen snow, and while the Cadenza isn’t the vehicle we’d choose for snowmobiling—Kia has alternatives including the Sorento and Sportage if all-wheel drive is a prerogative—we were curious about how the Cadenza, which had impressed us in warmer climes including Dallas, Texas, and Southern California, would do the same in the Northeast in December.

In other words, does it have the staying power of the preceding sentence?

Cutting to the chase, yes.

2014 Kia Cadenza headlight cluster

The 2014 Kia Cadenza headlight cluster features a unique “extruded” band of accent light. (click to enlarge)

We expected the usual from Kia’s sedan in the North American market. (Largest for the moment, that is, as the Kia K900 is in the offing as this is written).  As we’ve covered the assorted details of the Cadenzas in earlier reviews, we’ll say go to those for the basics: 3.3-liter V-6, six-speed automatic transmission, five passenger, high quality, etc. and so on.

So we’re just going to hit the winter high points here. Including the automatic climate control that’s consistent and fiddle-free, set-it-and-forget-it comfortable. The $3,000 Luxury Package, which brings the price of the Kia Cadenza to $41,100 (before destination charge), includes heated outboard rear seats. No more guilt about using the heated seats up front while those in the back have only their own posteriors to warm the leather beneath them.

2014 Kia Cadenza dash

The 2014 Kia Cadenza interior styling is among the best in the car business. (click to enlarge)

The heated steering wheel is a winter indulgence that once experienced will make every car driven without one seems a cruel device indeed. The wheel warms up quickly and forget about losing whatever percentage of your body heat from an uncovered head, grasping an frigid steering wheel will suck the body heat like an Electrolux set on stun. Perhaps a cold steering wheel is a First World Problem. Then a heated steering wheel is a First World Solution.

Where we are, it’s dark dark by 5:30 p.m. at the end of December, so we had frequent opportunities to appreciate the brightness of the HID headlights along with the adaptive feature. Adaptive headlights—another way of saying they steer with the wheels—are more, um, subtle than some more aggressively turning headlights. They’re darned easy to get used to, however, and you’ll miss them when they’re gone. It’s part of the Luxury Package.

2014 Kia Cadenza Luxury Package instrument panel

The 2014 Kia Cadenza Luxury Package instrument panel features a full-color “video screen.” (click to enlarge)

The Luxury Package also includes the “Supervision Meter Cluster.” This item replaces the conventional analog speedometer with a seven-inch virtual representation of a speedo but with a various screens in the center, including fuel economy data, a compass, navigation details and so on. You’ll want your other car to have one too.

Kia has earned a spot in Best Interior Styling Club. Dash features are independent but connected, with audio and climate controls seat apart by bright metal trim rings. Subtle dark woodgrain accents are used throughout the cabin and on the center console. Our test Kia Cadenza had the no-cost optional white interior package. It’s very classy but we’d wind up making a mark on it in a month if it were ours.

2014 Kia Cadenza taillight

The 2014 Kia Cadenza taillight looks “extruded,” similar to the accent lights in the headlight cluster. (click to enlarge)

The interior not only looks good, the controls are easy to use as well. Some of it is simple, such as having separate knobs on the audio for volume and tuning—duplicated on the steering wheel, and also on the multi-information display. You chose the way to where you want to go. The dual climate control system, with red and blue/hotter-warmer buttons on either end of the climate control cluster…which has a handsome analog clock in the middle of it. But who’s asking.

We did find one geographic area on the navigation system that was simply incorrect, and not a recent change to the roadway or something we had also seen on other systems. We know that Kia doesn’t make the maps, only buys them, but it’s happening on their dash. On the other hand, the system is easy to use and the graphics top of the heap.

At the front of the console a bin big enough for your smart music device, with USB and aux connections and a 12-volt power supply, so you can have your music and hide it too.

At the rear of the console, next to the electronic parking brake (part of the $3,000Technology Package) is a button marked AutoHold. It’s a temporary parking brake that will keep the car from moving—say, waiting in line at the drive-through—without having to keep the brake applied, but is automatically released when the brake pedal or accelerator is touched. We haven’t felt a great need for this in the past, but maybe once we’ve had it for a while…

2014 Kia Cadenza

2014 Kia Cadenza (click to enlarge)

Something that’s usually found only on expensive cars, the driver’s seat has a power setting for moving the seat back when the car is turned off. It’s not something we would use, but it’s there if you want it. And it’s not as if the Kia Cadenza is particularly cheap, either.

Finally, one exterior styling point that’s particularly nifty. Instead of the LED dot lights which have almost become a cliché as a sine non qua for premium models or trim levels, the Cadenza has a white band of light above the headlights that looks almost extruded like a glowing bead of toothpaste, with the taillights having a similar look, though red, of course. We haven’t seen anything like it on anything else, and it looks really cool at night.

The 2014 Kia Cadenza isn’t the final word on large Kia sedans. Next up is the Kia 900 (nee K9) that will top the Cadenza like the Hyundai Equus comes in over the Hyundai Genesis sedan. We’ll have a report on that new model soon.

In the meantime, you’ll find us wearing thick wool socks and our favorite stocking cap, warming up to a 2014 Kia Cadenza in winter.

2014 Kia Cadenza Tech Lux window sticker