This past week, I drove our 2014 Kia Cadenza through my old stomping grounds to pick up a friend for some much-needed dude time. As he slid into the passenger seat, his first comment was "This is a Kia?" Indeed, the Cadenza is very much a Kia. Despite many people's preconceived notions that Kia is merely an economy brand, the Cadenza delivers top-shelf amenities one would expect from a luxury automaker such as Lexus or Acura. Still, a negative stigma remains in some folks' minds, but it seems to me that Kia's time has come.
Pretty on the Outside
The exterior of the Kia is nothing short of beautiful, and the contrast between the snow-white pearl paint job and the black grille really makes it stand out. It looks aggressive yet refined sitting on the 19-inch chrome wheels. The Cadenza resembles something out of a hip-hop video, except for the fact that (wait for it) it's a Kia. In all honesty, I could totally picture Rick Ross gripping the wood grain of the steering wheel. While disarming the security system at night, the Kia illuminates its perimeter approach lighting, which is quite a sight to behold. The feature is simple yet impressive and really makes a statement of elegance and refinement that's not what some would have anticipated from a Kia.
Likewise Pretty on the Inside
The interior of the Cadenza is as attractive as the exterior, with buttery-soft leather seats that are both heated and ventilated. The wood-grain-accented steering wheel has a heating option as well, perfect for cold winter mornings when gripping the steering wheel is highly uncomfortable. There's a rear sunshade for the warmer seasons, which is an especially awesome feature in sunnier locales such as Atlanta. The wood trim that adorns the interior is classy while still giving a contemporary feel. Even the contrast of the outside is mirrored on the inside by the white seats with black carpets.
UVO How We Do
Surprisingly enough, the infotainment and navigation systems are remarkably easy to use. In comparison to the Honda infotainment system, I found that UVO infotainment and navigation worked far better and was much more forgiving. Canceling the route could have been easier, as this requires accessing additional menus, but with a little bit of experience, it becomes pretty easy. Even the dual-zone climate control worked well and staved off complaints of excessive air conditioning from my tropically adapted girlfriend.
I'm well aware that most stock audio systems are fairly lackluster, but after all the pleasant surprises the Cadenza provided, the omission of significant low-end sound was kind of a disappointment. The sound is clear, but even with bass turned all the way up, there was no real thump while listening to my favorite tracks. I guess that's not what Kia was going for, but with the number of speakers prominently placed throughout the car, I expected much more from the Cadenza. If you don't like speakers knocking while you cruise down the street, then this audio system is probably right up your alley.
The Kia Cadenza did not disappoint when it came time to get behind the wheel. The 3.3-liter V6 supplied ample power and acceleration for passing on the highway while still remaining refined and smooth on local streets. The suspension wasn't too soft and was nimble enough for precise maneuvering. In addition, the Cadenza felt confident at high speeds while still being easy to drive at lower velocities. I thoroughly enjoyed this dichotomy, as the Cadenza is great to cruise around in but also a lot of fun once you open up the throttle on the interstate.
Hard to Give Up
After tooling around town in the Cadenza for two weeks, I have to say that I will be saddened to finally relinquish my keys and say goodbye to the lovely white Kia. It has sufficiently impressed me at virtually every turn, and it will be tough to transition into a press car that isn't the Cadenza. I will miss the luxurious interior and the muscular yet refined engine; I will miss the way the headlights illuminate when turning the Cadenza on late at night and the pleasant chime that welcomes the driver when entering; and, of course, I will miss the questions from the uninitiated. "This is a Kia?" Yes, it is.
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