2014 Kia Cadenza

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Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
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Safety & Recalls
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Key Specs

of the 2014 Kia Cadenza. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    22 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    293-hp, 3.3-liter V-6 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain:
    Front-wheel Drive
  • Transmission:
    6-speed automatic w/OD and auto-manual
  • View more specs

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Athletic exterior styling
  • Roomy, comfortable backseat
  • Premium features standard

The Bad

  • Cheesy analog clock

Notable Features of the 2014 Kia Cadenza

  • New for 2014
  • Five-seat full-size sedan
  • 293-hp V-6 engine
  • Standard 8-inch touch-screen navigation system
  • Available heated steering wheel

2014 Kia Cadenza Road Test

Joe Wiesenfelder

Look, Cadenza is a stupid name. But then again, it's memorable, and so is the new 2014 Kia Cadenza sedan itself, especially if you compare it with the Kia Amanti sold between 2004 and 2009. (I almost forgot about that one myself.)

On its own merits, the 2014 Kia Cadenza is a classy premium sedan, but its status as a Kia rather than a more esteemed brand might make its premium price harder for shoppers to swallow.

Kia has been building some great vehicles over the past several years, including the midsize Optima sedan, which was Cars.com's car of the year for the 2011 model year. The Cadenza is a full-size sedan. Riding the line between more modest, high-volume cars and full luxury brands, the Cadenza competes with pricier versions of the Buick LaCrosse, Chrysler 300 and Toyota Avalon (see the cars compared side-by-side here). The Cadenza's higher trim levels nip at the heels of the Volvo S80, the Swedish company's flagship sedan, though one that's closer to midsize. If midsize is OK with you, the Lexus ES sedan is a very tough competitor for its quality and starting price of $37,280 (all prices cited include destination charges). The Cadenza starts at $35,900. (See these models compared here.)

Naturally, the Cadenza can't help but compete with its sister model, the Hyundai Azera (Hyundai owns Kia), with which it shares a platform and most of its hardware. The Hyundai costs $2,755 less.

For a photo gallery, click here. For a video review, click he...

Look, Cadenza is a stupid name. But then again, it's memorable, and so is the new 2014 Kia Cadenza sedan itself, especially if you compare it with the Kia Amanti sold between 2004 and 2009. (I almost forgot about that one myself.)

On its own merits, the 2014 Kia Cadenza is a classy premium sedan, but its status as a Kia rather than a more esteemed brand might make its premium price harder for shoppers to swallow.

Kia has been building some great vehicles over the past several years, including the midsize Optima sedan, which was Cars.com's car of the year for the 2011 model year. The Cadenza is a full-size sedan. Riding the line between more modest, high-volume cars and full luxury brands, the Cadenza competes with pricier versions of the Buick LaCrosse, Chrysler 300 and Toyota Avalon (see the cars compared side-by-side here). The Cadenza's higher trim levels nip at the heels of the Volvo S80, the Swedish company's flagship sedan, though one that's closer to midsize. If midsize is OK with you, the Lexus ES sedan is a very tough competitor for its quality and starting price of $37,280 (all prices cited include destination charges). The Cadenza starts at $35,900. (See these models compared here.)

Naturally, the Cadenza can't help but compete with its sister model, the Hyundai Azera (Hyundai owns Kia), with which it shares a platform and most of its hardware. The Hyundai costs $2,755 less.

For a photo gallery, click here. For a video review, click here.

Exterior & Styling
When viewed from the outside, the Cadenza is a handsome and fairly expensive-looking car. For years, Kias have mimicked Audis. Some of that influence remains in the rear, but the front end now evokes a BMW. (If you're going to copy other brands, German luxury cars aren't a bad way to go.) However, I'm disheartened to see the white stripes over the headlight clusters, which I hated on BMWs. It looks like a protective film that should have been peeled off after shipping. On the positive side, when the car's running, these stripes illuminate and serve as daytime running lights.

The Cadenza measures about 5 inches longer, a half-inch wider and almost an inch taller than the Optima. It's also a couple of inches longer than the Azera.

In the Cabin
The Cadenza may not be an enormous, rear-wheel-drive sedan, but it's appropriately larger than the Optima where it counts the most, namely the interior volume. It has 107 cubic feet of interior volume versus 102 in the Optima, 106 in the Chrysler 300 and 102 cubic feet in the LaCrosse.

The Cadenza's seating dimensions are all equal to or greater than the Optima's. The biggest difference is in backseat legroom, where the Cadenza has 36.8 inches, which is 2.1 inches more than the Optima. This is an instance where legroom measurements don't accurately reflect reality. While the LaCrosse measures 40.5 inches and the 300 is 40.1 inches, the Cadenza's backseat still feels roomy and open. The center floor hump is very low — about ankle-high — which makes the floor space more usable. The 300's hump is among the highest, at about a foot tall.

The roominess really pays off in accommodating child-safety seats. See the details in our Car Seat Check.

The front occupants enjoy ample room as well, particularly legroom. Nice leather upholstery is standard, and our test car had optional white Nappa leather that felt richer still. Interior quality is always difficult to summarize, because different people value different characteristics. Most of our editors found the materials quality to be appropriate, but one thought the upper doors and some surfaces lower than that seemed cheap. I know this is esoteric, but there's something about the bright white labels on the buttons that — though legible — makes them look unsophisticated to me.

Some of the features that imparted quality in our test car were options: Along with the Nappa leather in the Luxury Package were a suede ceiling liner and a 7-inch color display between the gauges that presented an analog-style speedometer with additional selectable information screens at its center.

On the Road
Gauging quality is something you also do when in motion. The Cadenza does a decent job of blocking exterior noise, though one of our editors characterized the engine noise as coarse under heavier acceleration. We agreed the ride quality is decent — better than the Optima's — but it's certainly not class-leading. Compared with the Chrysler 300, especially, it feels a bit choppy on rough surfaces and firm for a car that otherwise feels like a tourer, not a sport sedan. Without our car's 19-inch wheels (included with the optional Technology Package), the Cadenza might ride a little bit softer. Eighteen-inch rims are standard.

Equipped with a 293-horsepower, 3.3-liter V-6 engine, the Cadenza feels pretty sprightly, though the six-speed automatic transmission occasionally hesitates when you nail the gas once you're already in motion. The steering is another attribute that does the job but doesn't scream performance. The exterior styling might say BMW, but the driving experience says "chill."

Along with a powerful V-6 comes mileage of 19/28/22 mpg city/highway/combined. Among competitors, it's about average. Comparing combined mileage, the LaCrosse is rated an estimated 21 mpg, the Chrysler 300 is 18 mpg and the Avalon is 25 mpg. The Azera beats the Cadenza by 1 mpg.

Controls & Operability
Something about building premium or luxury cars inspires automakers to include elaborate interfaces — multifunction rotary knobs/joysticks/buttons or mouselike controllers that don't necessarily provide clarity or functionality, much less luxury. Despite its effort to break into a higher-rent market, Kia thankfully has not fallen into this trap. The Cadenza is blissfully simple to operate. A thoughtfully selected and arranged set of real buttons provide direct control over the ventilation system. A similarly simple band of buttons below — flanked by two real rotary knobs — lets you access audio sources, music tracks, a Bluetooth-paired phone and the standard navigation system. All these features are displayed on a similarly clearly laid-out 8-inch touch-screen.

Why do other automakers find such simplicity so difficult?

Cargo & Storage
The Cadenza's cabin has well-sized storage compartments and cupholders, and the trunk is a respectable 15.9 cubic feet. For comparison, the LaCrosse has 10.9 cubic feet (because of the battery for its standard light-hybrid system), the 300 has 16.3 cubic feet and the Avalon has 16.0 cubic feet.

To my disappointment, the Cadenza follows in the style of the Avalon, ES 350 and many full-size luxury cars by excluding a folding backseat. The 300, LaCrosse, S80 and most affordable full-size sedans do include split, folding rear seats to extend trunk space forward.

Safety
In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the 2014 Cadenza scored very well, with top ratings of Good for frontal, side and rear crash tests and roof-strength tests. Seven of eight competing models subjected to these tests performed the same. (The 2013 Chevrolet Impala, which had two Acceptable scores, has been replaced by a redesigned 2014 that hasn't been fully tested as of publication.) None of the vehicles in the organization's Large Family Cars class has undergone the stringent new small-overlap crash test.

In addition to the required antilock brakes and electronic stability system, the Cadenza has eight standard airbags, including seat-mounted side-impact torso bags and side curtains for all outboard occupants, front and rear. A backup camera is also standard.

Two active-safety features, blind spot warning and lane departure warning, are optional in the $3,000 Technology Package. I'm always disappointed to see safety features bundled in high-priced packages with unrelated items. In this case, the package also includes 19-inch wheels, an electronic parking brake, adaptive cruise control and hydrophobic front door windows — the latter a water- and dirt-resistant coating that one could argue has safety advantages. A more affordable safety package would be preferable.

See all the safety features listed here.

Cadenza in the Market
The Cadenza has a decent set of standard features, not the least of which is free scheduled maintenance for the first three years or 37,500 miles — and that's on top of the above-average five years or 60,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper and roadside-assistance coverage, plus the exceptionally generous 12-year or 100,000-mile drivetrain protection.

But a lot of the items found on the Cadenza that set premium vehicles apart are optional: In addition to the Nappa leather and instrument-panel display mentioned above, the Luxury Package on our car included a powered bottom-cushion extension and ventilation for the standard heated driver's seat (no ventilation for the passenger), a heated and power-adjustable steering wheel with driver's seat memory, a power rear-window sun shade and a panoramic moonroof. Our car hit $41,900 as equipped. Checking all the boxes brings it to $42,160.

But the Cadenza meets its main challenge where the Hyundai Azera, Genesis Sedan and Equus have: providing the additional allure for which luxury-car buyers pay a premium. For example, apart from its smaller size, the Lexus ES 350 is surprisingly close to the Cadenza in its standard-features list, though glaring differences include the Lexus' standard vinyl upholstery and shorter warranties (except corrosion/perforation). What it has, however, is the Lexus name.

The Cadenza's features and quality are comparable to — and in some cases are more generous than — competitors, but true luxury vehicles command money for a perception of value associated with the brand. Such perceptions of value are unquantifiable and perplexingly unpredictable from one shopper to the next. As long as the Cadenza and its Hyundai counterparts are sold under the same brand name as the companies' modest models, they'll struggle to imply any value beyond what they offer in features and quality.

Send Joe an email  



2014 Cadenza Video

Would you pony up luxury-car prices for a luxury car that doesn't bear the nameplate of an established premium brand? Cars.com reviewer Joe Wisenfelder says the 2014 Kia Cadenza works hard to make a convincing case for "yes."

Latest 2014 Cadenza Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.7)
Performance
(4.6)
Interior Design
(4.7)
Comfort
(4.7)
Reliability
(4.6)
Value For The Money
(4.7)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

Great luxury vehicle for reasonable price.

by flipdiesel from Columbia, SC on July 30, 2018

I love this car. Very fun to drive. Lots of cool features. There is a ton of space which was very helpful for a tall person like me. Read full review

(4.0)

Beautiful Vehicle

by Yolandelande from Northwest IN on July 9, 2018

This car met all of my needs. It is stylish, comfortable and affordable. This is the best car I have owned!! Leather Interior, wood grain finishing...I love it! Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2014 Kia Cadenza currently has 1 recall

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2014 Kia Cadenza Premium

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
acceptable
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    120 months / 100,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    60 months / 60,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Kia

Program Benefits

164-point inspection, Carfax vehicle history report, 10-year/unlimited mileage 24-hour roadside assistance including trip-interruption services and lockout assistance

  • Limited Warranty

    10 years / 100,000 miles

    10-year/100,000 mile powertrain limited warranty; towing/rental/travel breakdown benefits; eligible for additional comprehensive mechanical failure. Comprehensive: 12 months/12,000 miles from date of purchase.
  • Eligibility

    Under 5 years / 60,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 164 point inspection and reconditioning.

    See inspection details.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Cadenza received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*

Third-row access

N/A

Infant seat

A

Booster

(second row)

B

Booster

(third row)

N/A

Latch or Latch system

B

Forward-facing convertible

(third row)

N/A

Forward-facing convertible

(second row)

B

Rear-facing convertible

B
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker