Kia once had an upmarket full-size luxury car called the Amanti. It was mostly known for its derivative styling that stole from the Germans and Brits and did neither of them justice. That was then.
Since German designer Peter Schreyer took the helm at Kia Motors, things have changed for the better. The Kia Optima midsize sedan has gone on to show that there's a market for a $35,000 car from the brand that was once nothing more than a punchline. Because of its improved design and much-improved quality, Korea has found fit to bring its full-size Kia Cadenza to the U.S. for the first time, soon after its mid-cycle refresh elsewhere in the world. How important is the Cadenza? It was originally scheduled to debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November, but it was pushed back to the bigger stage at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Who It's For
Suddenly, it's cool to have a full-size sedan again. After the Chrysler 300, Toyota Avalon, Ford Taurus, and upcoming Chevrolet Impala, among others, the market has become saturated. Why? Because full-size cars are more efficient than they've ever been, and shoppers are finding them to be remarkable values, with high-end luxury car features available, vast space, and down-to-earth pricing.
The Kia Cadenza looks more premium than it is, resembling a BMW from some angles and an Audi from others. It's intended for buyers who have more money to spend on a premium vehicle, yet often shop for a vehicle on a stuff-per-dollar basis.
The 2014 Kia Cadenza packs a 3.3-liter V-6 engine shared with the Hyundai Azera. Additionally, it comes with:
- Available 19-inch wheels.
- A seven-inch TFT display in the middle of the gauges.
- Normal, sport, and eco modes that can recalibrate the car for aggressive or conservative driving at the push of a button.
- Twelve speakers and controls for rear passengers.
- Active cruise control and radar-based parking assistance.
What We Think
In South Korea, Kia uses the tagline "Gentleman Class" for the Cadenza, where it's called the Kia K7. That very aptly describes what it is and who it's for. We expect this car to pick up where the Optima leaves off, price-wise, in the mid- to high-30s.
It once seemed unrealistic that Kia could move enough of these given its anticipated price point, but the brand has come a long way. This car represents a change of direction for what was the official brand of "cheap and cheerful" into a legitimate full-line automaker. Design-wise, it's completely different from the Hyundai Azera with which it shares much of its engineering. We're looking forward to getting behind the wheel to see how it drives.
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