By on August 30, 2013

2014 Kia Cadenza Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Kia has big plans for America. The Korean brand that was written off in the 1990s, and is best known for making inexpensive cars with long warranties, isn’t planning an assault on the mass market. Kia has bigger plans: compete head on with Lexus, BMW and Mercedes. Say what? Yep. By 2017 Kia promises they will be ready. Rather than leaping right into the market, Kia is dipping their toes into the murky waters of the near-luxury pool. In many ways the near-luxury segment is a harder place to compete. This segment is full of aspiring brands trying to move up (Buick and Cadillac), brands that are floundering (Acura), brands that are treading water (Volvo and Lexus’s FWD models ), brands trying to expand down (Mercedes with the CLA) and brands that have no idea what their mission is (Lincoln). Into this smorgasbord lands a sedan that managed to be the most exciting car I have driven this year and the most awkwardly named. Now that I have that spoiler out of the way, let’s dive into the Credenza. I mean Cadenza.

Exterior

Kia has long been accused of copying styles and jamming discordant cues into one product. The pinnacle of this was the unloved Kia Amanti, mercy killed a number of years ago. That model had Mercedes E-Class headlamps, a Jaguar-meets-Chrysler grille, Lincoln tail lamps and a decidedly Town Car profile. The 2014 Cadenza is so different you’d think it was from a different car company. The overall style is “Optima’s big brother” with the same “tiger nose” grille up front. The large grille strikes me as the best interpretation of this style yet, although the plastic accent strip inside the aggressive headlamps struck me as slightly cheesy. There is still something derivative about the Cadenza, the side profile is exactly what a FWD 7-series would look like. (Shorten the hood, stretch the overhang.) Overall the Cadenza’s “smoothed out Optima” lines strike me as conservative and elegant, something that appeals to me.

YouTube Preview Image

Before we go further, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: the Hyundai Azera. The Cadenza isn’t simply a badge engineered Azera, but neither is it a unique vehicle. Through a convoluted set of financial arrangements, Hyundai and Kia are 32.8%  joined at the hip, which means Hyundai doesn’t “control” Kia and Kia can’t just grab an Azera and stick a Kia logo on the front. Instead what we see are two cars with common drivetrains, crash systems, hard points and bits grabbed from the same parts bin. Think of the Cadenza as the Azera’s younger cousin and not a corporate twin.

2014 Kia Cadenza Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Interior

Style is a subjective matter, there’s no way around that. I found the Cadenza to be traditional, almost to a fault, on the inside but still handsome. For me that’s a good thing as I don’t tend to gravitate to “ground breaking designs” like crazy asymmetrical dashboards or shifters that require an instruction manual and 30 minutes to master. I found the Azera’s interior to be more unique, but less to my taste. On the flip side there is little about the Cadenza’s interior that creates a burning desire, unless you like value. Being the cheap bastard that I am, words like “value” “bargain” and “deal” light a primeval fire in my loins. Keep that in mind.

As I have said in the past, value is all about cutting corners. Lately Kia has been displaying a level of perspicacity unseen in the competition. This balance is obvious when you look at the dash and doors which combine hard and soft touch plastics. This isn’t unique by itself, what is rare is the placement of the hard bits away from the driver’s reach and a careful matching of color and texture so that its hard to tell what’s hard and what’s not. This is something Lexus got totally wrong with the new ES. Most Cadenzas on my local lot had the optional Alcantara headliner and cream colored leather seats which have a huge impact on the feel of the interior. Faux-suede used to be something you’d only find on high-end European models, but it can be yours for under 40-large in Kia-land. Unlike Chrysler’s application of the soft-stuff, Kia also coats the A, B and C pillars in fake cow. Speaking of fake, the wood isn’t real. The lack of real tree bugs me a hair, but when you consider that a $60,000 Acura still has imitation burl I guess I shouldn’t complain. In terms of interior feel, the Cadenza ranks slightly above the new LaCrosse and Azera and just below the Toyota Avalon. While I think the Acura RLX’s interior was made of nicer bits, the Cadenza isn’t far off and almost everyone had a nicer interior than the current Lexus ES.

2014 Kia Cadenza Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Front seat comfort proved good for the driver in the base model and excellent with the optional soft Nappa leather which adds a power extending thigh bolster. You should keep in mind that the front seats aren’t created equally and the passenger seat doesn’t have the same range of motion making it harder for your spouse to find an ideal sitting position. Trust me, I heard the complaints. Being self-centred, this didn’t bother me, but I should note the American competition offers matching controls on their front passenger throne. The Cadenza’s lumbar support hit me at exactly the right spot on my back which is fortunate because unlike the GM sedans the lumbar isn’t adjustable for height.

The Cadenza’s rear compartment was surprising, not just because the seats seemed designed for adults with cushy cushions suspended high off the floor, but because the plastics quality was consistent with the front cabin. That may sound like an odd thing to comment on, but most mass market entries and even cars like the Lincoln MKS and Lexus ES350 gets cheaper bits in the back. Speaking of the back, the Cadenza’s trunk is acceptable for the class at 15.9 cubic feet, notably below the Impala and Taurus with their cavernous trunks. It’s worth noting that the Cadenza’s rear seat backs don’t fold like some of the competition so keep that in mind if you’re a regular IKEA shopper.

2014 Kia Cadenza Interior, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Infotainment

The dashboard of the Cadenza is dominated by a standard 8-inch touchscreen infotainment/navigation system dubbed UVO2. The Microsoft-powered system is bright, easily readable and a bit far from the driver. This distance could be a problem if you have short arms or long legs. The Cadenza gets the latest version of Kia’s software featuring full voice commands of your music library, allowing you to select songs and playlists with voice commands ala Ford’s SYNC. Also included is an array of OnStar-like services including vehicle diagnostics, car locator and automatic 911 dialing when your airbags deploy. Unlike OnStar however the system depends on a compatible smartphone being paired with the system and present for these services to work. The lack of a cell modem means you also need a paired smartphone for some of the data services to operate. In an odd ergonomic twist, Kia places the system’s button bank between the screen and the climate controls. The loaded Cadenza we tested gets a 7-inch TFT instrument cluster which houses the speedometer, trip computer, secondary infotainment display and navigation instructions.

Overall the Cadenza’s system is easy to use and intuitive but not as feature rich as some of the other options on the market. Notably uConnect and MyFord Touch offer sexier graphics and better app integration, although the Ford system crashes as often as a 1980s computer. Toyota/Lexus’ systems are getting a little long in the tooth at the high-end with older graphics and a smallish 7-inch screen, and their less expensive systems use small and dim 6.1 inch screens that are easily outclassed. GM’s direct competition is a bit disappointing because the LaCrosse and Impala use the same buggy software as the Cadillac XTS with a different brand attached instead of the excellent systems used in the Buick Verano and Chevy Malibu. If you want to know more, I take a deep dive into UVO2 in the video.

2014 Kia Cadenza Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Drivetrain

The Cadenza uses the same 3.3L direct-injection V6 engine as Hyundai’s Azera mated to the same 6-speed automatic transaxle. The six-pot is good for 293 horsepower at 6,400 RPM and 255 lb-ft of toque at 5,200 RPM. These numbers place the Cadenza in the middle of the pack, below the GM triplets and the Acura RLX, but above the Avalon and ES350 and a virtual tie with Chrysler’s 300 V6. When it comes to performance, curb weight and transmission design are  just as critical as raw engine numbers. At around 3,750lbs the Cadenza is lighter than everyone but the new Avalon and ES (around 3,550lbs). In theory, this should skew performance in the Cadenza’s favor, but when the numbers are tabulated the Kia is 3/10ths slower than the RLX to  60 and half a second slower than the Impala and LaCrosse V6. Compared to the AWD XTS, the Cadenza is a hair faster. (The XTS AWD was tested in-house which is why I don’t use a FWD XTS estimate.) The 8-speed V6 Chrysler 300 was the slowest to 60 by around half a second. What gives? The 300 isn’t a light-weight. Our last instrumented test of the Taurus V6 and MKS put the Ford at the bottom of the pack with the 300 and the MKS on par with the Kia.

GM’s 3.6L V6 not only delivers more twist, it also has a broader torque curve and the GM/Ford 6-speed transaxle has an extremely low first gear helping the Impala and LaCrosse get off the line rapidly. Chrysler’s 8-speed auto may be a gem but it can’t re-write the laws of physics, the 300 is just too heavy. At this time Kia isn’t saying if there will ever be an AWD version of the Cadenza, so if you need four-wheel-motivation you need to look to elsewhere.

2014 Kia Cadenza Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Pricing

$35,100, $38,100 and $41,100. That’s all you need to know about the Cadenza’s pricing since the up-scale sedan only comes in three flavors. Why the lack of variation? It keeps prices low and helps inventory issues as the Cadenza is made in Korea. The Cadenza is extremely well-featured at the base price with standard heated leather seats, navigation, backup camera, keyless go, dual-zone climate control, 10-way driver’s seat with adjustable lumbar support and rain-sense wipers. This price point sets the Kia at a slight discount versus the main-stream competition, and about $1,600 cheaper than a Lexus ES350 or Lincoln MKS. If that doesn’t sound like a “deal” yet, hang on. For $38,100 Kia adds a ginormous sunroof, HID headlamps, ventilated driver’s seat, heated rear seats, electric tilt/telescopic steering wheel, power extending thigh bolster (driver’s seat only), a seat/wheel memory system, power rear sun shade, a 7-inch TFT instrument cluster and snazzy Nappa leather seats. This level of Cadenza is where the value proposition starts slotting in $2,500 less than the LaCrosse and $4,000 less than an ES350 or MKS before you take into account the features you just can’t get on the competition. Jump to $41,100 and Kia tosses in 19-inch wheels, radar cruise control with full-speed range ability, blind spot warning, lane departure prevention, an automatic electric parking brake, water-phobic glass and (if you select the no-cost white leather) the faux-suede headliner. This is the option level where the Cadenza (like most Kias) starts to shine. The loaded Kia is a $7,000 discount vs the Lexus ES350 which is an apt comparison. The Kia doesn’t offer real wood but it does offer a nicer interior and a few features you won’t find on the Lexus like the LCD disco dash. Compared to the Acura RLX we had the week before, the Cadenza is nearly $20,000 less expensive. The discount is similarly large with you compare the Cadenza to the XTS and smaller vs the MKS.

2014 Kia Cadenza Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Drive

The one area where the Cadenza didn’t surprise was behind the wheel. Kia’s relative inexperience in the near-luxury market shows, if you know where to look. However the delta between the Kia and the competition, once as wide as the grand canyon,  is now a light shade of grey. Although very well controlled, the Cadenza exhibited slightly more torque steer and wheel hop than you’ll find in GM’s Epsilon II triplets or the Avalon/ES sisters. Of course when it comes to driving dynamics the Chrysler 300′s rear wheel drive layout is the clear winner. When it comes to absolute grip, the Cadenza is likely the equal of the Impala and Avalon, however the steering is not as communicative and the chassis isn’t quite as predictable or refined. Don’t think that makes the Cadenza “feel cheap”, far from it. The Cadenza nails the ” substantial”  feel that this large sedan category is known for.

While drivers will notice the Cadenza is a hair less sophisticated than the competition, passengers are unlikely to notice. The Cadenza’s springs and dampers did an admirable job of soaking up road imperfections around town and are tuned to land somewhere between the Acura RLX’s sportier aspirations and the pillow-soft ride of the LaCrosse. Cabin noise in the Cadenza is extremely well controlled on all road surfaces and thanks all throttle positions. In some ways the Cadenza was too quiet, hushing the engine’s emissions during our 0-60 testing.

In a straight line the Cadenza’s gear ratios and relative lack of low end torque make the Kia feel sluggish compared to the competition, something I hadn’t expected given the engine specs. Part of this is a transmission that feels reluctant to downshift which takes some of the joy out of mountain driving. Fortunately Kia includes paddle shifters so you can command the gears, but in comparison the Ford/GM transaxle and Chrysler’s ZF sourced unit seem psychic in comparison.

2014 Kia Cadenza Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

When it comes to nannies and gadgets Kia took an interesting line. The Cadenza has lane departure warning but no prevention system tied to it unlike Lincoln and Acura’s systems. On the flip side Kia over-delivers with the radar cruise control system. Acura’s systems brake too hard and too early, Infiniti’s systems brake hard and late, most of the other systems on the market are a combination of the two and the majority give up when speeds drop below 20MPH. Much like the systems on current Volvo and Mercedes models however the Kia system drives like a moderately cautious driver, braking progressively but smoothly to a complete stop, and accelerating at a moderate rate when traffic resumes. The system is so fluid that passengers didn’t know the car was “driving itself”  in heavy traffic until I told them to pay attention to my right leg.

After a week with the Cadenza and 611 miles I have to admit I was hooked and that’s not something I say often. The Cadenza’s elegant but restrained looks, comfortable and well-assembled interior, heavy gadget content and value pricing are an incredibly compelling combo. The interior and sticker price more than justify the negatives I encountered during the week. The only major problem with the Cadenza is the Kia logo on the hood. This begs the question: is luxury looking expensive or feeling coddled? At higher price points I would argue you need both, but near luxury is about value and that’s where the Cadenza shines. I’m not sure about Kia’s Mercedes ambitions, but one thing’s for sure, the Cadenza puts Acura on notice and Lexus needs to watch their back.

 

Hit it or Quit it?

Hit it

  • It turns out you can have an Acura at Honda prices.
  • Alcantara headliners rock.
  • Near-luxury without near-pretentiousness

Quit it

  • Can you handle your premium car’s discount badge?
  • I had expected better performance numbers.

 

Kia provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested:

0-30: 2.51 Seconds

0-60: 6.08 Seconds

1/4 mile: 14.67 Seconds @ 97 MPH

Average Observed Fuel Economy: 24.5 MPG over 611 miles

 

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145 Comments on “Review: 2014 Kia Cadenza (With Video)...”


  • avatar
    Kenmore

    John Wilkes Booth

  • avatar
    Monty

    Put a split kidney grill on the front and most people would confuse it for a BMW. That’s not criticism, though, because that’s the most attractive Kia ever.

    The Koreans are learning – the European upmarket guys better watch out.

    • 0 avatar

      “that’s the most attractive Kia ever.”

      Or the most blatant ripoff of BMW design ever…

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        The Kia “tigernose” grill doesn’t look much like BMW’s kidney grill and the Cadenza has a different rear greenhouse treatment than what one would typically find in a BMW sedan (or the Acura RLX, Honda Accord. Subaru Legacy, Infiniti G37, Hyundai Genesis, Lexus GS, Lexus LS, etc.) which all use the basic Hofmeister kink.

        And at the rear, the Kia is all Audi (harkening back to Schreyer’s time at Audi).

        Now, the Pontiac G8 was essentially a BMW clone (tho, Pontiac did utilize the split kidney grill early in its history), but also used the Hofmeister kinked greenhouse and the quad rectangular headlights.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Not even remotely seeing the resemblance to a BMW, the proportions are way off due to being FWD. Looks kinda like an Audi or the Euro Passat though (no surprise, considering who likely penned it). Good looking car to me though, inside and out. I would hate the trim levels, some stuff I would want from each, some stuff I would not want from each.

      A friend has a loaded Optima that is going on 2 with zero issues. He loves it, I think it is a heck of a car for the money, though nothing special to drive. Which he could care less about.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        The Optima may be a heck of amply of car for the real transaction price, but I am sincerely puzzled as to why Alex is gushing over a 35k+ Cadenza, when according to his own review, it seemingly does nothing better than the competition, and most things worse than its competition.

        35k to 40k can buy an awful lot of refinement and quality in this competitive segment, and I am not seeing any value proposition whatsoever here.

        • 0 avatar
          tonycd

          My reading is that he says the loaded version beat the Lexus ES for interior materials and equipment level, performed comparably in most other regards, and did it all at a $7,000 discount.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      No, the Optima in SX/SXL trim is still the best looking Kia sedan – that is until the GT concept makes it into production.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Quarter mile in under 15? A kid now is truly spoiled compared to my childhood in late 70s into the 80s.

    It doesn’t have badge cachet, big deal. If you buy cars for the badge you’ll always be a sucker. I only ask if a sedan is quiet, has good legroom for all passengers, and a big trunk.

  • avatar

    I checked out the Cadenza months ago. This was before talking my friend out of buying a new Avalon and having her buy a new Azera (fully loaded).

    The loaded Cadenza costs about $3000-$4000 more than her loaded Azera, but due to its understated luxury, it is probably an easier car on the eyes on a daily basis.

    I was quite impressed with the feature set and the availability of white leather like you find in German cars. The one feature that I truly loved was the powered WATERFALL CUSHION! More cars should have this. Why isn’t the XTS’s powered?

    youtube.com/watch?v=V9un7gRyiug

    Although I had no problem recommending the Azera I have a problem recommending the Kia, because I honestly don’t know how good the engines, the transmissions and electrical systems are over a 2 to 3 year lease. I’ve heard bad things about the steering in the Sonata, and some bad things about the transmissions in some of the Kias.

    I won’t be completely sold on Hyundai or Kia until long-term reliability is established.

    I’m not impressed with the MKZ or the MKS but I do know that Lincoln’s long-term reliability is well-established, Especially since I’ve had family members who have leased and released Lincolns.

    Kia/Hyundai understands the American market. They seem to be the only American manufacturer willing to give the Americans exactly what they want without charging them backbreaking prices. I have to applaud the work being done over at Kia. I used to tell jokes about their cars but no more. Well I don’t see myself ever buying Japanese or buying Korean what I can say is that I would take one of KIA’s or HYUNDAI’s is before I would take an Acura or a Lexus.

    My main problem is the KIA badge. If I had this car, I’d strip the badges off the wheels, nose and tail. From the front you’d assume I had a Bimmer, and from the back you’d think I had a VW PASSAT. I’d drive this car twice as fast as my SRT just so you’d never be able to get a clear look at it…

    “That must be some new M3 or something!”

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX (formerly gslippy)

      Hey BTR,

      Just how much time do you need to feel comfortable with H/K’s long-term reliability?

      They’ve been in the US since the 80s, and have offered the 10/100 warranty since roughly Y2K (profitably, I’ll add, unlike Chrysler who lost their shirt on the 7/70 warranty of the Bad Old Days).

      People used to laugh at Toyota, too.

      • 0 avatar

        The Hyundai/ Kia that I know from the Genesis onwards is not the one People were snapping on prior to that. Chrysler seems to be in good hands now. I’ve owned 3 of them and never had a problem even when using a high performance sedan as a daily driver.

      • 0 avatar
        jz78817

        I’d say more than a few years. The length of the warranty is not an indicator of reliability; it could either be a sign of confidence in the product, or an attempt to buy customer goodwill. After all, Chrysler offered the lifetime powertrain warranty during the darkest days of Cerberus.

        Hyundai (and especially Kia) were poor to mediocre until roughly 2008. This last generation is where they’ve shown they want to be a serious player.

        ‘course, the bad blood SK harbors towards Japan adds some motivation…

        • 0 avatar
          tmport

          I humbly disagree with your timeline. When I was shopping for my last car, in 2007, there were a lot of solid Hyundai/Kia cars. They weren’t as stylish as they are today, and I acknowledge that not all models were good (the Accent and Rio were pretty cheap feeling), but they had numerous models that were well above “poor to mediocre.” The Elantra, Sonata, and Spectra were easily a match for most of their competitors and, factoring in price, true bargains. I ended up getting a Spectra5, and I haven’t done anything other than routine maintenance in 6+ years of ownership.

          • 0 avatar
            jz78817

            I’m talking about reliability/durability. If you put much stock in Consumer Reports, they’ve sprinkled plenty of black dots on Hyundai and Kia vehicles up until the current generation.

            and while I’m happy that your car has done well by you, I need to remind you that the plural of “anecdote” is not “data.” I put 164,000 on a Dodge Neon with no major issues, yet I’m not dishonest enough to act like that makes the Neon a great car.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            I’m thinking that CR was giving the ’06-’09 Spectra “average” to “above average” reliability ratings.

            I’d have to look at the various ratings, but I think most of Kia’s garbage was gone around 2004.

          • 0 avatar
            tmport

            I think that’s a fair point, jz78817. I was speaking more about my subjective feel about the car’s quality vs its competitors–it’s tough to judge a car’s reliability, or at least it was back then. I did read hundreds of owner reviews on the Spectra5 before buying, and there were very few complaints (I know, I was surprised too). My experience has certainly borne that out, though I wouldn’t claim that my experience alone proves much.

            According to True Delta, the Elantra (4th generation, 2006-10) and Sonata (4th generation, 2004-10) of that era both have excellent reliability ratings. The Spectra5, not surprisingly, has insufficient data since it wasn’t a high-volume car. I’ll leave it up to someone else to do a full comparison of all Kia and Hyundai models vs. their competition.

            P.s. Despite my happiness with my car, Kia and Hyundai are not top of the list for my next car. I’m really interested in the new Mazda3 hatchback, the next generation Honda Fit (please have better A/C!), and the new Nissan Versa Note (Alex swayed me with his review–I too like a bargain.)

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      “I won’t be completely sold on Hyundai or Kia until long-term reliability is established.”

      This is coming from a guy who owns Chrysler, MB, and Jaguar? products. Apparently you don’t care if the reliability is good or bad, just “established.” Anyway, if you are leasing, who cares?

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      You could go for the alternate Kia badge, and then people wouldn’t know *what* you were driving…

      http://thumbs2.ebaystatic.com/d/l225/m/mVB—WzNN89oQOZCRUET2g.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The Cadenza uses the same powerplant and transmission as the Azera so there shouldn’t be any difference btwn the 2 in that regard.

      The Cadenza has consistently been getting the better reviews than the Azera – better interior, ride/handling, etc. and that’s even with the Cadenza being the older model (launched in Korea and a dew other markets back in 2009), having recently undergone its MCE – so TTAC is in error by referring to the Cadenza as the “younger cousin” when it’s actually the older one (I also take issue with the reference of FWD Lexus models “treading” water when its actually the FWD models, the ES and RX, which make up the bulk of Lexus sales with RWD models in the GS and IS not even treading water, particularly, the GS).

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’m surprised that you never mentioned the Genesis. TrueDelta was showing them as having pretty similar prices even with features taken into account.

    And $40K puts you into a 300 V8 or SHO if maximum velocity is your thing.

  • avatar
    brenschluss

    First of all, this is the right way to review a car. Thank you Alex for absolutely consistent quality reviews.

    That said, I have to pick on your last point, RE: “near-luxury” and perception: Entry level luxury buyers, I would argue, are even more concerned with appearances than the true high-end. It’s why the 325i and C250, for example, exist, and why I’m afraid Kia could make a car that is by any measure 3x as good as any Mercedes Benz at 2/3 the cost, and it would still be ignored by aspirational buyers, because the person looking for a first-step luxury car in 2017 likely drove a Sephia in high school.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Kia’s competitor to the 3 Series and C Class would be a production version of the GT Concept and there are rumblings that it looks like it would be making its way to production.

      • 0 avatar
        brenschluss

        The point was that someone buying the lowest-end product of a luxury manufacturer would likely have bought a well-equipped car from a non-luxury manufacturer, but for vanity.

        People don’t lease a $299/mo 320i for the car itself, and that is Kia’s problem.

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          “People don’t lease a $299/mo 320i for the car itself, and that is Kia’s problem.”

          When we have the first ET contact and need some short, no-sh*t, clear as Zeiss statements for them, I hope you’re in cell range.

  • avatar
    cpthaddock

    IMHO, if it’s fair game to point out an aging infotainment system as a weakness then it should also be time to retire outdated criticisms of My Ford Touch reliability.

    Microsoft is infamous for not getting things quite right first time round and for doggedly persisting until they do. Our MFT is not one iota buggy or unreliable!

  • avatar
    JLGOLDEN

    Ahhhh, the gorgeous Cadenza. I enjoyed mine for a brief time, then had a cluster of problems over a very short period, leading me to (suck it up, take a small loss) and trade-in the car. I still have faith in Kia, and I replaced the Cadenza with a loaded 2014 Sorento. Note: If you test drive or own a Cadenza and notice a popping and creaking in the headliner and roof structure, such as when the body flexes over uneven driveways, advise the dealer that there’s now a fix. Kia engineering apparently discovered the design / assembly oversight and can provide the tech with a potential repair process.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      It’s something like THAT which still gives me pause over HyundKia.

      I realize all cars may have “bugs” and quirks, but when the basic STRUCTURE isn’t right from the get-go, I automatically ask what else may be lurking!

  • avatar
    jz78817

    “Through a convoluted set of financial arrangements, Hyundai and Kia are 32.8% joined at the hip, which means Hyundai doesn’t “control” Kia and Kia can’t just grab an Azera and stick a Kia logo on the front. Instead what we see are two cars with common drivetrains, crash systems, hard points and bits grabbed from the same parts bin. Think of the Cadenza as the Azera’s younger cousin and not a corporate twin.”

    Convoluted corporate financial arrangements don’t alter reality. The Azera and Cadenza are just like the Fusion and MKZ, but for some reason it’s OK to call the latter pair “badge engineered.”

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      jz78817, I don’t actually have a problem with the MKZ/Fusion unlike some others on TTAC. That being said, the Ford twins share more parts than the Azera/Cadenza.

      • 0 avatar

        sorry Alex, as far as I can tell, the two Koreans are joined by the hip. Depending on your pov, cynical or successful, but badge engineering nonetheless. So jz is right in this instance.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Not badge engineering, but certainly platform sharing. Badge engineering is when you slap a different badge on the car and change nearly nothing else such that you can’t even tell them apart. Nobody is going to mistake a Cadenza for an Azera from 30 paces, just like no one will mistake a Fusion for an MK-whatever.

          • 0 avatar

            Hey krhodes1! I know that, I was just pointing out that under the skin, they’re absolutely the same. If you ask me this is badge-engineering or platform sharing done right in that they look more different then some Lexus-Toyota or VW-Audi twins. Still makes them brothers.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            Not to fan flames, but where would something such as the Ford Escort and Mazda Protégé fall?

            Depending on the circumstances, folks, it’s all shades of gray!

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          Hyundai and Kia don’t even use the same telematics/infotainment system or even the same AWD system.

          • 0 avatar

            At to the AWD I didn’t know. As to infotainment I don’t care (I’m stressing ME).

            To me though, if the cars share the same mechanical systems (engine,supension, gearbox etc.) they’re basically the same.

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            //

          • 0 avatar

            hey brenschluss!

            I’m not knocking it per se. I think Kia did s very good job of differentiating between them.

            Like you say, makers do this forever and tune adjust it along the way. If they do it enough, the cars do feel different. IMO though the only difference between the Azera and Cadenza, in terms of mechanics, is the Kia has a slightly stiffer suspension set up. The engine, steering, gearbox all feel the same.

            Your examples are very good ones. When I read comparos between American sports cars and Euro one, or talk to people with experience with both, a coomon knock is exactly the truck origin of the American cars’ engines. Yeah, great pulling power, but maybe too heavy for the cars. That’s why Euro sport cars usually feel more refined.

            I do think though there’s very little actual difference in the sensation of driving an Azera or Cadenza.

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            Sorry for deleting that- didn’t know you were responding.

            Sort of figured that’s what you meant after rereading. I haven’t driven either of these so they could be exactly the same for all I know, but judging a car on hardpoints is a bad idea. Seems you know that though.

      • 0 avatar
        jz78817

        To be clear, I’m not trying to claim any “badge engineering” between the Cadenza and Azera, I’ve just had my fill of people (usually commenters like the cretins at Autoblog) tossing the term around for any vehicle which shares a platform with another.

        Though I will admit that the reason I brought it up at all was because the “32.8%” bit in your article sounded more like passing along the narrative Kia wanted. Other than financial arrangements, the stake one company holds in another is meaningless. GM and Toyota have never had any significant (read: controlling) financial stake in each other, yet no one would dispute that the Prizm was a minimally badge-engineered Corolla.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      I think TTAC had a great article a while back getting into what badge engineering actually means. I concur that that 32.8% joint ownership is a strange loophole which amounts to different boardrooms but one R&D/ manufacturer. That being said, this isn’t a tarted up Azera, it appears to have substantially independent bodywork and interior which is why people buy cadillacs, lexuii, and Infinitis. Hell, the only reason why BMW & MB maintain some hidden magic is that they choose not to make a low price companion though from what I understand they could build a stripper 3-series for under 12K leaving plenty of room for a low-cost compact companion brand.

      Really, the issue with badges is more a person’s pride than the car’s engineering.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I do believe the fact that their cars are primarily RWD also plays into it. Though it will be interesting to see what effect the FWD MBs has on that in the US.

        • 0 avatar
          Xeranar

          RWD honestly meant assbackwards technology in the 90s. They stuck with it because it became unusual and thus exclusive. I admit, RWD is smoother in many ways and a good deal more intuitive on a track but in 90% of daily driving you really don’t see a big difference. One oversteers, the other understeeers. With the move to drive by wire the effects on the wheel feel are marginalized. If you’re in a region that snows heavily RWD cars are a detriment without matching snow tires.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Big distinction btwn “platform sharing” and being “badge engineered.”

      The previous Lincolns and Fords (as well as Mercurys) were badge engineered – sharing a lot of the sheetmetal and interior bits; the MKZ and Fusion are not.

  • avatar

    i had the chance to drive this car recently and I totally concur with Alex’s assessment. The exterior works, in fact leaves the Hyundai twin blushing in shame. The interior is much more elegant than the Azera, but manages not to be boring like the Japanese or Germans

    the problem is the ride. Steering is crap and the suspension is off. And there are more refined, powerful and economic engines out there. So to me that means it’s a good buy only if you’re enamored of the design or features.

    Good effort, but not quite.

    • 0 avatar

      What the eff is “refined”, Marcelo? I thought Alex just tried to sound like a journalist when he used that word (another one of those is “supple”). But you aren’t one of those people, right? So, what does it mean? “I like its noise better than SBC”?

      • 0 avatar

        Refined is noise, but it’s also how the engine revs. Vibrations. More power per lower displacement. More power conjugated to economy, all of this can mean refined.

        When I use refined, I mean that it sounds better and doesn’t vibrate as much as an engine that not so refined. In this sense it does not necessarily mean more technology. When I want to talk technology I say technically refined.

        BTW, a lot of how an engine sounds refined or not has to do with the r/l ratio. Anything with an r/l ratio below 0,3 usually sounds better than something above 0.3 but it’s not necessariy the case. Sometimes it’s more about how you isolate those vibrations. Takes talent, know-how and calibration. In all my experiences with Korean cars, they’re just not there yet.

        • 0 avatar

          Thanks a lot, this makes sense.

        • 0 avatar
          tonycd

          Pardon my ignorance, Marcelo, but what is an “r/l ratio”?

          • 0 avatar

            I google translated the explanation from a Brazilian site, so I don’t know if it’s any good. Anyways, you should be able to find it pretty easy on google as it’s an English language technical term (I believe):

            “The explanation for this may be a simple question but important: the ratio r / l. The letters come from radius (radius in English), the radius of the crank of the crankshaft (which corresponds to half the stroke of the pistons), and length (length), alluding to the connecting rods, center to center holes of the head and foot.”

            The link to the pg is http://bestcars.uol.com.br/tecprep/rl-1.htm, maybe if you google translate it you’ll get a pretty good idea

      • 0 avatar

        BTW, I don’t really know what supple means in a car context either. Another one I enjoy is when a journalist says this car has better construction than that other one from that other company. To use your words, how the eff does he know? Is he an engineer? Don’t think so. Journalists are uaually fooled by tight panel gaps and finishing, but many times that’s just lipstick on a pig in terms of mechanical/construcion issues. When a journalist uses this phrase, he loses points with me. Talk about a meaningless buzz phrase.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Ride quality and the solidity of the chassis (which are related) are the most important criteria for me in terms of selecting a sedan; all else can be perfect with a vehicle, but if it has a horrid ride/noisy suspension/flex in the chassis, then the other perfect attributes are moot.

          In this regard, as much as I criticize’Ford as of late, I mist admit they nailed the ride quality and solidity of the chassis I’m the Fusion, giving it a solid, Germanic ride, while also being comfortable.

          For this reason alone, I’d choose a Fusion SE that costs 12k to 15k less than the Cadenza.

          • 0 avatar

            Ha! High praise no doubt. I agree, though on the firmer side, the ride in Fords manages not to be punishing like the Germans. So as of late, and for a while now (at least in Brazil), the suspension on Fords is among the best out there.

            BTW, like you, this is a very important criteria for me too when I buy a car.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        Supple is generally used as soft or pleasant feeling. If a drive over a bump is supple it means it doesn’t break your kidneys. I usually see supple used in discussion of interiors which is honestly a little weird. A seat should be firm, the dash if made of a soft material can be supple but who the hell is constantly touching their dash? I think I touch my dash maybe 4 times a year and it always is ro clean it.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          I don’t think it is a question of feel for dash materials. Hard uncoated plastics just tend to look cheap. You don’t have to touch them.

          More expensive cars use the coated plastics, which look and feel much better, but have had issues in the past with the coatings peeling off. Supposedly this issue has been resolved though, been a while since I have heard anyone complain about peeling plastics on a VW or a BMW, but it was rampant 10 years ago.

          Style can make up for cheap though, IMHO. I think the Fiat 500s interior looks great, even though all the bits are pretty cheap. But a Corolla interior just looks cheap and dour.

          • 0 avatar
            Wheeljack

            Although there are a number of ways to deal with noise, I have to believe (perhaps irrationally so) that a padded instrument panel would help absorb noise better than a rock-hard plastic one. I also have a feeling that eventually a hard plastic one could develop rattles, where the padded one would help to mitigate that.

            I’m ok with a hard dash in a utility vehicle like a basic truck or a Jeep Wrangler where there is not as much pretense of luxury or refinement.

          • 0 avatar

            Krhodes1, right on about the Cincuecento’s interior. The car world would be a much nicer place if everybody put such thought and panache into their interiors.

        • 0 avatar

          Hey Xeranar,

          I understand that. I’ve probably even used the word in my reviews. I have come to the conclusion though that’s it’s virtually meaningless in and of itself. When comparing to other cars it does have some meaning, but when describing a car by itself, the term says little. Afterall, we don’t know what the journalist is comparing to.

          • 0 avatar

            I see. Getting back to refined, a naturally balanced I-6 may be more refined than shaft-balanced I-4. In the same wein, you probably can have a supple live axle, as long as the car is heavy enough.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      This is my beef with my buddy’s Optima. The ride is a bit harsh, like the tires are way over-inflated. “flinty” And the steering has no feel at all. It just doesn’t take bumps particularly well. The ride is no where NEAR as smooth and composed as my 3-series, even with my car being on runflat tires. And it won’t go around a corner anywhere near as well, nor are the brakes in the same league for feel. And it certainly does not have that “made of a solid block of granite” feel that German cars generally have. But for $20K less money, it is a fine effort, and only a tick worse than a Camry or a Fusion, while being much prettier inside and out than either, and having more toys to play with. Which is all my friend really cares about, he has no interest in actually driving at all. For me, if I was shopping in the high $20s for a sedan, I would probably go with a Passat, but it would be a close thing. The Optima is prettier and MUCH faster, but the Passat feels better and can be had with a stick.

      • 0 avatar

        As stated previously, I’d take the Fusion with my eyes closed. Outside it’s a much better car, though inside I do like the Kia better. I also think the Fusion is several ticks above the Cadenza.

        I think the Hyundai is garish inside and out, as to the Camry, there’s nothing to be said. I haven’t driven the current Passat but I hated the Jetta I drove. In Brazil the Kia is not even a value proposition as it’s much more expensive than a Fusion. Here, I really don’t know who would buy this, but buy them they do as I see it on occasion.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Mitchell’s point about ride quality is on target, unless this Cadenza is a revolution.

      For whatever reason, I’ve yet to ride in a Hyundai or Kia product that didn’t have inherent flaws in the suspension setup, whether these issues stemmed from faulty components, improper geometry or other reasons.

      They just can’t seem to tune ride quality properly. Oddly enough, two of the biggest offenders were two relatively expensive sedans, being an Azera and a Genesis 3.8. The Azera was floaty in a truly bizarre way, and the Genesis was just brutal and schizophrenic (with the front and rear at odds).

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        edit – Marcelo’s point, not Mitchell’s.

        I hate tablets and autocorrect for this reason.

      • 0 avatar

        Hey DeadWeight!

        It’s like you say, they use the same suspension hardware as everybody else, they use the correct geometry, yet they miss. That’s because doing suspension systems is partly material but greatly immaterial. There’s “magic” going on there, or to be less ethereal, know-how, talent, experience, interest etc.

        • 0 avatar
          doctor olds

          Suspension ride/handling tuning is truly an art that requires talented and experienced engineers and managers. The prime requisite, the capability to precisely evaluate attributes that most folks can’t define precisely but just feel, as in: “I just like this car.”

          I got a kick out of some of the engineers who would break down a 5 point rating system into 1/4 point increments, presuming more precision than seemed possible to me! It was said: Customers won’t complain about something they don’t feel or hear.

          This from a Powertrain guy, not an chassis engineer.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The steering isn’t great, but Motor Trend, Edmunds and Consumer Reports have raved about the ride on the Cadenza (finding it superior to the ride in Avalon – which is partly why MT and CR ranked the Cadenza ahead of the Avalon).

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    This segment is full of aspiring brands trying to move up (Buick and Cadillac), brands that are floundering (Acura), brands that are treading water (Volvo and Lexus’s FWD models ), brands trying to expand down (Mercedes with the CLA) and brands that have no idea what their mission is (Lincoln).

    Perfect assessment.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Except, the FWD Lexus models (well, the ES and RX) are going gangbusters and making up the vast bulk of Lexus sales whereas RWD models like the IS and GS have been treading water or sliding in sales.

      • 0 avatar

        Most people cannot discern the driving dynamic differences that Alex senses so easily, especially on a test drive. I know I can’t.

      • 0 avatar
        84Cressida

        The IS and GS are not treading water in sales. You are so clueless.

        • 0 avatar

          Sounds like my clue to ask, after dealing with refinied and supple, what does treading water mean? I understand it’s a reference to Christian scriptures, where it referred to a miracle. Therefore it may mean that IS and GS miraclously continue to sell (which they kinda do, although IS was slipping in the previous generation — a few years ago it was on par with ES, but not anymore).

          • 0 avatar
            84Cressida

            The IS and GS are hugely important to Lexus’ sales, especially worldwide where there is no ES and RX. The GS continues to meet Lexus’ sales targets and the GS-F is on its way, along with the possibility of a coupe model. The new IS is already ramping up sales at a fast pace and along with the GS has been getting rave reviews and beating chief rival BMW in comparison tests, not that they matter to me, but bd2 always spouts off when a Toyota product loses in one, so it’s fair to call a spade a spade. The RC coupe, which is based on the IS, will also be another form of sales and diversity to the line up. bd2 likes to think that these cars are some failure, yet Lexus wouldn’t be spending the time and money on them to add variants if they were failures.

            bd2 repeats the same tired rhetoric every single time and doesn’t have a clue what she is talking about.

          • 0 avatar
            Signal11

            Wha?

            Treading water means to stay afloat while keeping your head above water. Has nothing to do with Christian mythology.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    I’m liking what I’m seeing in Hyundai and Kia these days.

    Now all we need is to get traffic lights properly timed so that we can go back to driving instead of sitting and reading email.

    Not me. The lady in the car next to me. And the guy in front who I had to wait while he hit “send” when the light changed. Grrrrr!

    One was driving a Dodge and the other was driving some beater GM product.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX (formerly gslippy)

    If I was in the market for such a car, I’d strongly consider one of these; they look great in person. Kia has done an excellent job propagating the design language throughout their product line.

  • avatar
    55_wrench

    I once had a car with a white interior.

    Never again.

    Although the seats, and the rest of the interior for that matter, look great, give it about 2 years and you’ll wish it were another color, because you’ll probably never get them looking like new again.
    Otherwise a very nice effort, not full of phony metal brightwork that will get scratched and look terrible over time.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I had no issues with the very light off-white Parchment interior in my Saab 9-3SC, but I also don’t have kids… That car was really noticeably cooler in the summer too, being white on white. Now I have a black on black and a dark green on red/brown. Luckily both with excellent A/C.

  • avatar
    mike978

    Alex, how would you compare this car with the Hyundai Genesis? I ask since the Genesis has luxury pretensions, is a similar rice and size. I know it is RWD but other than that are there major differences?

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      The Genesis is an interesting one. The current model is getting old and as such I find the telematics and general interior to be a step behind the Cadenza. Infact, just about ever aspect of the Genesis except the way it drives is a step behind the Cadenza. The more interesting comparison for me will be the K9/Quorus (whatever the heck it will be called) with it comes down the line.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    BMW Nose, Jetta Butt, I don’t think that Kias styling direction has changed much beyond having a more consistent style amongst the brand.

    That being said I can’t take this nor the Hyundai Genesis to really be luxury cars, they’re moreso well-sized family sedans like the Impala and Avalon.

    But then again this is by the idea of luxury being superb build qualitymaterials with current technology and classy styling, that last point I only see on a few select Cadillacs.

  • avatar
    suspekt

    Give me a 6 speed manual TL SH-AWD ANYDAY over this garbage.

    The TL is far better then most realize. The engine response (especially with a high performance J pipe) is mesmerizing. The design is also cutting edge in a way the Chryco 300 could only dream of.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    $41,100 for a Kia? Holy f*ck. Give me the Chrysler 300. The Amanti looked scary, but at least it was a deal for what you got.

    The Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T is still an absolute BMW 428i killer for $16,250 less, but the Hyundai and Kia luxury sedans are losing their edge.

    • 0 avatar
      Flybrian

      The Amanti was garbage. It looked like an unholy conglomeration, drove like one, and held up like you’d expect a patchwork car to.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        The looks made it like getting three or for luxury cars for the price of half of one. I was definitely not in the demographic, and still am not, but it was a great old dude cruiser that came loaded REALLY cheap, as opposed to slightly less than a Lexus.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Optioned out, that’s around the same price one would be paying for the Avalon or new Impala.

  • avatar
    MadHungarian

    I’ve got the perfect ad campaign for this car. Keep saying over and over in the ad “Lease a Cadenza!” Then at the end, have a throwaway line “Who is Lisa Cadenza?” Then get one of the TV networks to produce a show with a character named Lisa Cadenza . . .

    Wait, hold on a sec. . . What was that?

    Oh. OK. Never mind . . . . .

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      “Lisa Cadenza”

      Ohhh..Mr. Koslowski’s 8th-grade advanced English class. To my left, one desk up. She was outrageously advanced, too.

      I got called on all the time ’cause he knew where my mind always was, the turd.

      OK, her last name wasn’t Cadenza, but “Lisa” has been a Pavlovian trigger for me ever since.

  • avatar
    Flybrian

    “Aspiration Luxury Buyers” i.e. badge snobs/whores prefer base 3ers with manually-adjusted vinyl seats because of ignorance.

    This is the intelligent luxury choice, much how Buick/Oldsmobile were a half-century ago.

    Additionally, Kia’s design language holds a lot more water than Hyundai’s facsimile-and-awe styling. Not only does it look better now, but it will certainly age better.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      If I was forced to choose between this car and a base 3 series with the (actually quite nice and better wearing than leather) pleather and manual seats (lighter, more quickly adjustable) the BMW would be an easy choice. However, for my own money I would take a Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T or FR-S.

      The closest thing on the market to traditional Buick or Olds is probably a GMC Yukon Denali. Basically a Cadillac, but more discrete.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        Wow, mental gymnastics for the win! You tell’em how vinyl seats hold up better than real leather! Yeah! And how a manual seat ia super easy to adjust when you’re over 6 foot and past 200 lbs! And lighter! Cause that 15 lbs of mechanics is killing your nuremberging time….

        Please, I know we all have our biases but your argument just failed to hold water. Is the 3-series a nicer car? Meh, I don’t really know. The cadenza is 2 full EPA sizes bigger so it’s apples to hand grenades. But trying to sell that vinyl manual seats are miraculous because BMW makes them is just silly. I’ve seen aging bimmers with their vinyl seats and they’re no treat. Usually in the over 7-8 year old ones I see people scrounging the real leather upgrades from junkyards.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          German vinyl DOES hold up wonderfully, with zero maintenance, unlike any leather. And the ONLY thing that has broken in my 2yrs of 3-series ownership is the power seat controller. What’s not there, won’t break.

          I would have happily gotten the vinyl if it came in colors other than black, gray or tan, even though they were tossing in leather for FREE when I bought my car. Modern car leather (at least until you get above a 3-series) is so treated (it is effectively painted and sealed) that it is all but indistinguishable from top quality vinyl anyway. I fell in love with the Chestnut leather color though, had to have it. And BMW made power seats mandatory to get the lumbar support, which is a must have for me.

          Personally, I would always go for the stripped version of a more expensive better engineered car than the loaded to the gills version of something more pedestrian. As I have said on here repeatedly, I don’t buy cars by the pound. If you don’t believe a 3-series is beautifully engineered, then your bias is the one that needs a bit of work.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            Probably the opposite sides of the same coin–I like toys, and when a car hits a certain price point, I take for granted that certain features will be there as part of it!

            Example: HomeLink garage-door opener! On the new Infiniti Q50, you have to go to one of the upper technology packages to get it, north of $40k! As I’m familiar with Hondas, I know that any V6 Accord gets it, starting ~$27k or so! And after having a few cars with it, having the remote clipped to the visor just seems so..cheap! :-)

          • 0 avatar
            Flybrian

            No,the 3er is not ‘beautifully engineered’ because engineering to me doesn’t mean having to replace a $1400 (dealer cost) non-servicable ABS module at 57k miles or a passenger occupant weight classification sensor for $850.

          • 0 avatar
            jkross22

            Oh, give me a break. The 3 drives great, but the company’s engineering prowess stops there.

            Window regulators, cooling systems, squeaks. I’ve got a 3er wagon now and have owned a few other BMW’s over the last 15 years, and they are not the pinnacle of engineering you describe outside of how great they drive.

            I accept their glaring weaknesses for the ability to get a stick shift in a wagon…. even one that’s not brown.

  • avatar
    probert

    I’ve always wanted a power extending thigh bolster.

    • 0 avatar
      afflo

      Oh man, back to the best/missing features blogs!

      I can’t even describe how excited I was the first time I saw that in a Bimmer. Considering how pervasive complaints about “short cushions without enough thigh support” are in reviews, and this would be an easy hit for a company that wants to differentiate itself.

      I have a 34″ inseam and size 12.5 feet, so I am well acquainted with the limitations of legroom, support, and foot space in most modern cars.

  • avatar
    SV

    I still get the impression that HK products look fantastic on paper but are merely average on the road. I’m sure it’s a well-rounded car overall (chassis/powertrain refinement notwithstanding), but in this class I’d probably rather have the Impala, which from what I’ve read has a well-sorted chassis, or the 300, which in its current incarnation is quite impressive.

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    New Genesis coming out has an awesome interior.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    I can’t get past KIA and “near luxury”, or Hyundai, for that matter.
    Sluggish? Torque steer? Hard plastics? Maybe they should stick with econo-boxes.. They are truly entering the shark tank here going up against the likes of BMW/Lexus. I’ll pass.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      You must have missed the part where the Cadenza has the better interior materials than the Lexus ES.

      • 0 avatar
        jz78817

        I don’t think he missed it. I for one don’t listen to what reviewers say about the quality of interior materials; I’ll go look at the car and decide for myself. I’ve read way too many articles where one tester called a car’s interior “class leading,” and another called it “low rent.” Or where a particular tester called one (hard-plastic-filled) interior “world class” and another interior (more expensively kitted) “cheap.” Or another one where a reviewer called a car’s interior “premium,” then a year later called the same model of car’s interior “dollar-store-grade.”

        I’m interested in what (some) testers/reviewers think. I don’t let them tell me what to think, and you shouldn’t either.

  • avatar
    njr

    Great review and video — the differences in infotainment response times couldn’t be more stark. That GPS lookup was just about the fastest you could ask for.

    Several other commenters on the Genesis — certainly the interior of the last one I drove wasn’t of the Cadenza’s quality, and despite being RWD it was not remotely enjoyable in normal driving. I most vividly recall the reluctant transmission and the hard plastic on the center console digging into my knee.

    One small comment on the video — Aisin isn’t pronounced like that. I usually just paste into Google Translate and click the speaker icon when I’m not sure, for example: https://translate.google.com/#ja/en/アイシン精機株式会社

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    I have run across comments about people having problems getting KIA to honor their warranty.

    When someone lays out this kind of money for a KIA, I am certain that they would want the warranty honored in case they should ever need repair under warranty.

    Lexus, BMW, Mercedes? Yeah, you pretty much get what you pay for and they will stand behind their product.

    KIA? Well……, maybe. What if something breaks during the long warranty period and you find out that the dealer won’t honor the warranty because they did not service your vehicle for regular maintenance?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX (formerly gslippy)

      The fine print matters, also. Customers become grouchy when the warranty doesn’t actually cover what they think it does.

      My friend’s Verano was recently losing power. The dealer wouldn’t cover the sensors under warranty, until he ‘persuaded’ them. Long story short, they ended up replacing the sensors, waste gate, and turbocharger, in that order. And the car only has 50k miles.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Yep. And sometimes it is also about what is not specifically mentioned in the print that gets the manufacturer around the warranty coverage.

        A contractor friend of mine continues to have oxygen-sensor problems with his Cummins RAM and had to take it to the dealer several times already.

        He believes that, instead of giving him a new oxygen-sensor, all they do is remove the old oxygen-sensor, clean it up real good and then re-install it. Maybe that’s factory TSB procedure, but that seems unlikely to me.

        He is equally sure that this dealership then bills RAM for a warranty repair AND a new sensor. He gets notified by RAM that he had a warranty visit and what was done.

        To prove the reusing of the old sensor to himself, he put a dot of black nail polish on his old oxygen-sensor where it could only be seen with a mirror. When he got his truck back, three days later, and did the mirror test, Lo and Behold, there was the same black nail polish dot, although it had moved somewhat.

        I don’t know if the problem about honoring KIA warranty coverage is at the corporate level or with the individual dealers, but owners who take their complaint to the web have also implicated Hyundai.

        When my brothers sold Hyundai products and others, before they retired, they handled every complaint or concern from a buyer with equal care.

        99% of the time it was Insufficient User IQ on the part of the buyer. But that 1% of the time could have been a real bitch if they had downplayed it.

        Like when the engine stumbles and dies on start-up and the Check Engine Light comes on in that new car and the some dealers tell the owner, “It’ll go off in a few days. It’s nothing. Probably just some water in the gas.”

        That particular example could be a lot of things from the Oxygen-sensor all the way to the air filter, and anything in between to include the flash-firmware in the electronic Engine Management Control unit.

        What they need to do is determine what the OBDII codes are while the car is running; but that takes a little time and they don’t get paid for diagnostic work like reading the codes.

        There’s nothing like “bad word of mouth” advertising and in this age of the internet, word can spread very quickly.

        We can use the shunning of ttac by Ford of Canada as an example. Look at the comments tied to that article! Such interest!!

        Watch out for the wrath of a disgruntled buyer.

    • 0 avatar
      jz78817

      “KIA? Well……, maybe. What if something breaks during the long warranty period and you find out that the dealer won’t honor the warranty because they did not service your vehicle for regular maintenance?”

      Isn’t that what Magnuson-Moss was about? they can’t unilaterally deny warranty coverage because of aftermarket parts or third party service unless they can demonstrate that the aftermarket/third party stuff was responsible for the failure. e.g. they can’t refuse to replace a defective cluster just because you put aftermarket speakers in, but they *can* refuse warranty coverage if you crack a piston and they find you have a chip/tune in your PCM.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    Its a good move for them. They have a high output v-6 available to them. They don’t have a high-end luxury car they are trying to sell;hence, no issues with cannibalizing those sales. These kinds of cars should be pretty profitable. The writer was impressed by the interior, but that’s not all that expensive to mass produce.

    Sure the price is high, but Kia can probably discount it quite a bit and still make money. I figure the floor is a high trim level Accord, about 29K. With luck Kia can do a little better.

  • avatar

    Your summary of the luxury market is spot-on except for counting Cadillac as an aspiring brand trying to move up. Since when has Cadillac not been a luxury brand and a direct competitor to Mercedes, BMW, and Lexus? Oh, it may not have always competed *well* in that space or in the same way, but I don’t recall that Cadillac ever stopped being a luxury marque.

  • avatar

    As for the feature set: strangely enough the cadenza is available with equal treatment for the passenger and the driver. Right now the package where this is seen may or may not be on the American market but it does exist. You can see it here:

    It might be a Saudi Arabian spec for now:
    youtube.com/watch?v=DXZNxGXqga…

  • avatar
    PriusV16

    One of the best-looking cars on the market right now. I _really_ like the design, inside and outside.

    It doesn´t look like a BMW rip-off at all to me. Instead, my first thought was “Oh, a baby Optima” (with the Optima being one of the most distinctive and original design on the roads these days as well).

    If I was in the market for a new car, I could easily see myself getting an Optima or a Cadenza.

    And that is coming from a car guy in Germany where there´s a constant bombardment of “ZOMG the German automakers are still the very very very best at what they do!!111!!!” in the media and in the car-buying population.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    ” the most exciting car I have driven this year “. I wish you hadn’t started out with that.

    In almost every paragraph the car is described as anything but. “Average” or occasionally mediocre, in its class, especially ride, performance and handling, is what the review is actually saying. I felt cheated spending time reading a review searching for “why is it the most exciting”.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      +

      It really read like a schizoid review because of that beginning.

      I could see a reviewer excited by this car because it exceeded what are implicit low expectations, but nothing in the review indicated this car is dramatically better, and in most most respects the review states its at par or worse than competitors, with the exception of the subjective area of styling.

  • avatar
    Wheeljack

    For years the media hammered on Hyundai/Kia for derivative styling, so they finally took decisive action and hired people who could create a design language for the brands and give them a distinct identity. The media has also long complained about unrefined driving dynamics on H/K products – I wonder how long it will take for them to finally pony up and get some experienced talent in their chassis engineering area?

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    Thanks for an interesting, well written and produced review. I saw it as coming more from the point of view of the dealer than for the buyer. Nothing wrong with that. Maybe this is what TTAC really needs to be.

    The B&B responders made what seemed to be excellent points about deficiencies with the engine and the suspension tuning. As an old hotrodder, I can tell you that these problems are almost always fixable. It just costs a few bucks that the bean counters won’t spend. Or, worst case, it may reflect limitations in their basic design and thus involve trade offs that nobody wants to talk about.

    My bottom line I drew from your review as a prospective buyer – give it a try and buy it if you like it. The engine and suspension may be a little weaker than some of their competition. The durability is not yet proven. It is a new entrant in this segment and all that that implies. Fair enough, guys. I am edified by your review.

    Keep up the good work.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Alex…say what you want or even what JB says…you do have an anti positon when it comes to Ford.
    You really do not fully take into consideration everything when comparing cars. THat and you quickly rush oast and not mention the entire story.
    “starts slotting in $2,500 less than the LaCrosse and $4,000 less than an ES350 or MKS before you take into account the features you just can’t get on the competition.”
    Wait…what? The Kia can’t even come close to offering what is available on even the SHO let alone the MKS.
    The options available on these Fords are stunning…from adaptive headlights and cruise to heated and cooled driver AND passenger, HUGE trunks (a must for a brands main car as you say this one is), self parking…hell…the available options just continues.
    Having only the driver get cooled seats? Why? The wife not good enough?
    You even say the passenger seat front isn’t as comfortable as the driver seat. Why the hell not? Can you say this about the Taurus or the MKS?
    28 MPG? At only 3000 lbs? I understnad they really saved the money somewhere…but you can’t tell me the car shouldn’t be getting better luxury than this.
    The Taurus…all 4500 pounds, gets 29 on the hwy. The much more comfortable and passenger friendly MKS gets this same 28 as Kia…but with 4500 pounds of luxury.
    The Chryslyer beats the pants off this Kia with 31 friggin hwy.
    So what gives?
    And what happened to AWD? I know Chicago. I see the so called rear RWD luxury sedans struggling in the winter. Why would you not want this added somewhere?

    If you ask me…this car is a major dissapointment for what it is supposed to be.

  • avatar
    bikephil

    I just don’t get the hang-up with the Kia badge being so shameful. Of course, I own a Optima SX and love it in every way. Wouldn’t choose a BMW even if I was given one in exchange for this car. Too many BMW drivers come across as snobby, shallow, folks who think they are just a bit better than the rest of us…

  • avatar
    carguy

    Nice review Alex.

    This seems to continue the trend of luxury brands cheapening their products every cycle and mainstream brands improving theirs.

    It’s becoming increasingly difficult to see the added value beyond $40K.

  • avatar
    84Cressida

    I get that you don’t like the ES, but the same materials used on the front doors are used on the rear ones as well.

  • avatar

    AWD would probably push this car closer to $45,000!

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I think the vehicle that changed Kia was the previous generation Sorento. I saw then that Kia would and could build an attractive car. Overall I do think Kia’s are probably the best looking non prestige vehicles on the market. Leaves most other for dead in styling, even Hyundai.

    I bought one, even though the fit and finish couldn’t match the Japanese SUVs at the time.

    My friend bought a V6 Prado, he had taken it back to Toyota on at least 6 occasions.

    My Kia never required any warranty work. The Kia was Korean as I’m in Australia, not US like the NA variants.

    The only issue with the Sorento was it’s FE, which I thought was quite appalling at about 22mpg mix cycle driving.

    Other than that I really think Kia can produce a good vehicle. They are a bee’s dick away from the Japanese in quality, in Japanese, I mean actually made in Japan. The US calls any locally manufactured vehice imported if it isn’t from the Big 3.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    BAFO, we’re down to only the Big 2 now. Chrysler is now a subdivision of Italian Fiat which makes it just like any other transplant doing business in NA and all over the globe.

    By which I mean, any foreign-owned automaker employing Americans, building cars for Americans, right here in America.

    There’s no shame in that. Just like Anheuser-Bush is now a Belgian company and Miller belongs to the South African Breweries, they were all once American. Now they’re foreign.

    The only reason I bring this up is because the Buy American fan club is detached from reality about such things and has conveniently forgotten that the profits go to the owners in foreign lands, not the US.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    @HDC
    That’s okay.

    As you can tell I don’t care where a vehicle comes from. I judge a vehicle without any prejudice. America makes some good vehicles and a few great vehicles.

    The reality is the good vehicles come from foreign brands made in the US. The great vehicles aren’t great because of build quality, but more the iconic value of the vehicles.

    The main US manufacturered vehicles that are arriving in Australia are Chrysler product and these compete head to head with the Korean vehicles in bling and pricing. The Korean’s are winning out in the quality stakes at the moment.

    The US is catching up.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      BAFO, I agree with you that MOST of the buyers don’t really care where a vehicle comes from. But what they do care about is quality, fit, finish, durability, reliability, value for the money and retention of worth.

      When I shop to buy I look at everything that’s available at that time. What I end up buying is something that gives me all of the above.

      I was Buy American Gung-Ho until we bought our first new Japanese vehicle in 2008.

      Just because I bought my wife a 2012 Grand Cherokee, UAW Made and imported from Detroit, does not mean I have regained my faith in Ford and GM.

  • avatar
    Kamaka

    Thank you Alex for making your article and video not just a copy of the text. I’ve been watching a lot of the TTAC youtube channel and your humor in the written article is well appreciated.

  • avatar
    critchdizzle

    One thing to note: Cadenza isn’t just a made up “hey this sounds like another word” word. It’s actually a term in music for a passage where the rest of the orchestra stops and the soloist just shows off for a bit.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I would rather have a Japanese or Korean car with less maintenance than a BMW that costs much more to maintain. I realize BMW and Mercedes are status symbols but I would rather have reliability and lower maintenance costs than something that can travel on the Autobann at 100 mph or above. I seldom have the need to go above the speed limit and I would much rather have a vehicle that I can drive when I need it rather than visit it at the repair shop. I actually like the new GM and Ford vehicles and would choose them over any German vehicle. I would definitely choose a Japanese or Korean vehicle over a German vehicle. I want a reliable vehicle not a status symbol. My wife’s new CRV has been an excellent vehicle, even though it will not impress those who are into BMWs and Mercedes. I could afford both the BMW and Mercedes but I just as soon have a reliable and dependable vehicle and not a status symbol.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “and about $1,600 cheaper than a Lexus ES350.”

    And about $14,000 cheaper when you go to re-sell it, since you got something with a Kia badge instead of an L badge. It’d have to be much better, and about 10 grand cheaper before I’d consider it… over the Hyundai option.

    Additionally, I’m glad they stuck the tail lamps from the Rio hatchback on there.

    And in what way does the side profile NOT look like an 06+ GS?

    Can’t wait to see that white center arm rest after 5 years use. Or the rest of the interior, for that matter.


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