Need an edge to steer your team to the winning side? Then try situating yourself with an auto product from the Korean carmaker Kia which continues to surprise the marketplace. Fixated on style and technology in value packaging, the 8th largest auto brand in the U.S. has taken the podium to proudly introduce their game-changing 2014 Cadenza full-size premium sedan. Yes, Kia and “premium” implicated in the same sentence is more akin to an oxymoron than a phenomenon in theory. But until you have driven it in reality, skepticism may remain. Too bad!
To understand why Kia is challenging the likes of the Lincoln MKZ, Acura TL, Lexus ES and Buick LaCrosse, we must first take a look at their market position and brand strategies. As one of the fasting growing car companies in the marketplace they have experienced positive growth each year since entering the competition 18 years ago and have unequivocally proven why their cars are great. Kia’s brazen strategy has inked them partnerships with 15 NBA teams and The Voice which helps keep their consumer brand awareness at heightened levels (up 17% since 2009). In addition, familiarity has increased 50% thanks to the rise of the Optima, which 150,000 customers purchased last year. It continues to receive adulation and respect from previous non-believers who are now evangelists for the sporty sedan. With substantial evidence that shoppers are eager for more, Kia will unveil seven new vehicles this year.
The Cadenza, which equates to a musical cadence, is manifested from consumer desire for a Kia vehicle with standard premium appointments, advanced technology, European styling and luxury accoutrements. They also wanted it to drive the way it looks which the Cadenza mostly honors. More on that in a bit. Designers wanted to keep the premium sedan’s styling basic which in today’s world means sophisticated. Therefore you have an aggressive “Tiger Nose” grille (as Kia describes it); adaptive HID headlights; chiseled panels; dual, mesh oval exhaust tips; an available full panoramic roof and classy 19” alloy rims. Beginning price is $38,100 and is $41,100 fully loaded. Kia’s advanced phenom will also introduce a complimentary scheduled maintenance plan atop of their 10-year warranty. The plan offers five factory-scheduled vehicle services and is honored for 36 months or 37,500 miles. At this time there are no intentions for a hybrid variant.
To tune in with the “automotive rhythms” and cadence of the Cadenza we headed to Del Mar, California for test-drive evaluations around mountains, on highways and through small towns. From what I experienced it will certainly come off foreboding to the opposition but certainly is a panacea for someone looking for “premium” at a discount. For one, when you approach the Cadenza you do not see Kia, you see a fine, well thought out import sedan. When you take the power-controlled wheel you sense Japanese touches and expectations with its Nappa leather and high-gloss faux wood and black two-toned interior. When you pull off you have come to full realization that the Cadenza is a true driver’s car. It’s spacious in the front and the back with rear heated seats and a power rear sunshade; a 10-way driver’s seat and unique cushions (extended driver thigh pad and passenger seat lays completely flat for long, tiring drives); a standard 550-watt, 12-speaker Infinity audio system; eight standard airbags, and Advanced Smart Cruise Control which can bring the car to a complete stop (Tech Package) is just the beginning of what the Cadenza offers. Its spaciousness is due to the fact that it has a 2” longer wheelbase and stretches another 5” over the Optima platform which it shares. The Cadenza is also 1” taller and 60% is comprised of high tensile steel.
Back to my aforementioned “drive like it looks” comment, which correlates to the sporty aggression of the vehicle’s profile. So yes, it needs to move in sync with its styling. And yes, it accelerates admirably with Kia’s 3.3-liter GDI V6 with 293 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. Paddle shifters will allow you to control revs and get the most out of the Cadenza’s power. It’s also mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Yet, steering felt a bit loose and the suspension was not adept to handling the snake-like roads chosen for our journey.
Technology is what sets the Cadenza apart from the crowd. How about its rear facing radar system that looks back nearly 200 feet and warns the driver of fast approaching vehicles? I’m sure Germans would love this feature on their Autobahn. It also offers Advanced Smart Cruise Control, Blind Spot Detection, a Lane-Departure Warning System, a Rear-Camera Display, and a Back Up Warning System. Again, these are advances that the Germans brought into the forefront. To see them on Korean vehicles is tremendous.
Last but not least is Kia’s implementation of a litany of multi-media features on the Cadenza. The touchscreen to navigate controls and Bluetooth audio sets it off. But UVO eServices expands the vehicle’s level of intelligence. Once you download the free app onto your Smartphone all of the technology’s services are complimentary with no hidden subscription fees. Examples of features include:
- Crash Notification Assist with 911
- Active Maintenance
- Google Send 2 Car
- Kia Roadside Assistance
- Parking Minder
The new Cadenza is primed for success if any of Kia’s sales numbers or current model line-up is an indication. Do the research, gain the knowledge and see for yourself. But be careful, because it’s easier than you think to become a convert!