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.

Kia Cadenza Kia 2012 2012 Chicago Auto Show 2013 Chicago Auto Show Auto Show Chicago Chicago Auto Show Luxury Vehicles Sedan

Senior Editor Mike Hanley is a father of three boys; he reviews new cars, admires classic cars and has embraced the minivan lifestyle.  Email Mike