2014 Kia Cadenza: Up Close

The 2014 Kia Cadenza's premium aspirations are clearly evident from its design. Indeed, it draws heavily from the BMW 5 Series despite being dimensionally closer to the larger 7 Series.

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The similarities start up front. The triangular headlight surrounds are topped with white-ish eyebrows, just like the 5 Series, and the hood has the same kind of flowing creases as the BMW. The Cadenza's grille also looks like BMW's familiar twin-kidney design — if the two ports had merged together.

Despite the Cadenza's position atop the Kia lineup, it doesn't get significantly nicer materials; they're on par with those in the Optima midsize sedan. The dashboard layout is relatively conventional, with a cluster of buttons in the center of the dash below the 8-inch touch-screen. Thankfully, there's no sign of capacitive-touch controls. In the middle of all the buttons there's an analog clock — the kind of design cue that can lend an upscale touch to a car's cabin — but it doesn't here; there's too much Timex in the clock face.

Passengers will be pleased with the Cadenza's spacious backseat; it's as roomy as the rear seat in some long-wheelbase full-size sedans. The stretch-out legroom is complemented by supportive seating that should enhance long-haul comfort.

The mainstream full-size sedan segment is experiencing something of a renaissance, with new models like the Chevrolet Impala and Toyota Avalon vying for attention. How the Cadenza is priced will be important, but it looks like a legitimate competitor in the segment.

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