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2014 Kia Cadenza is a sportier, more stable version of the Hyundai Azera

The 2014 Kia Cadenza shares much with its corporate cousin, the Hyundai Azera, however Kia's new flagship premium sedan has a slightly sportier feel. Starting at $35,100, the Cadenza offers standard features including an 8-inch touchscreen display, navigation system, back-up camera, and rear warning system.


The 2014 Kia Cadenza takes its place as Kia's flagship premium sedan.

The 2014 Cadenza embarks on fulfilling the role as Kia's flagship sedan, representing the most powerful and technologically advanced vehicle the Korean automaker has ever introduced on our shores.

Kia entered the U.S. marketplace 18 years ago as an obscure marque, but has risen to become the eighth largest brand by volume. The 2014 Cadenza is a premium, entry-luxury sedan, based on basically the same platform as that of its sister company Hyundai's Azera.

Cadenza displays an upscale design that reflects a new trend among new car buyers -- "smart value" -- filling a void that exists between the mainstream cars and the luxury cars. The 2014 Cadenza is available in one trim level, which is referred to as Premium and base pricing at $35,100. There are two upscale option packages that progressively up the ante -- the Luxury Package at $38,100; and the top-of-the-line Technology Package at $41,100.

Cadenza brings in-car technology and infotainment to a heightened level with standard features of an advanced navigation system with SiriusXM Traffic and UVO eServices displayed on a high-resolution 8-inch touch screen; a Rear-Camera Display and Back Up Warning System; and a premium 550-watt Infinity 12-speaker audio system, including rear surround speakers and subwoofer. All 2014 Cadenzas come equipped with leather seat trim with heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control with rear seat ventilation, Smart Key keyless entry with push-button start, 10-way power adjustable driver's seat and Bluetooth wireless technology.

Up front is a new interpretation of Kia's signature "Tiger-Nose" grille flanked by quad projection beam headlights. The Cadenza showcases a wide lower fascia that contributes to the bold, athletic stance, while chrome trim accents surround the fog lights and grille adding to its premium sport sedan flavor.

Cadenza's profile curves gently to the C-pillar surrounded by a tasteful chrome bezel that flares upward at the rear door, creating a beautiful glass droplet. Out back, twin oval tail pipes accentuate the Cadenza's sporty yet elegant design.

In-car tech is key in the Cadenza, with a standard 8-inch navigation system with SiriusXM Traffic as well as rear-camera and back-up warning system.

The 2014 Cadenza interior wraps passengers in a pleasant environment complete with soft leather upholstery and warm wood and chrome accents. Occupants enjoy full-size sedan front legroom and headroom, along with soft ambient lighting.

The Cadenza's power source is a 3.3-liter V-6 engine that makes 293 horsepower while delivering 255 lb.-ft. of torque. Energy is metered to the front wheels through an electronically controlled six-speed automatic overdrive transmission with Sportmatic, featuring manual shift capability and steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. The Cadenza features a sport-tuned fully independent suspension with a MacPherson strut setup forward and a multi-link rear design with dual flow shocks for ride and performance enhancement.

My driving partner and I piloted a fully loaded model (with the Luxury and Technology Packages). The base sticker read $38,100. While the final price totaled $41,900.

Despite its mechanical similarities to Hyundai's Azera the Cadenza seems to be much more planted and stable, which results in an overall sportier feeling in terms of its handling characteristics. The electric power steering initially seems a little benign when traveling in a straight line, but steps up to a sportier feel in twisting and challenging scenarios.

The Cadenza is definitely worthy of its flagship status. The 3.3-liter V-6 serves up a healthy dose of "oomph," with pleasing acceleration and a broad torque curve, while delivering a typical full-size sedan status level of fuel economy -- 19 miles per gallon city and 28 mpg highway. The 6-speed automatic is smooth and precise in making its changes, and the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters deliver responsive gear changes without hesitation.

The interior is well executed and quite comfortable with switchgear properly positioned for easy, intuitive operation, and the inventory of technological features is most impressive. The UVO (Your Voice) eServices seems to have the edge on GM's OnStar system as far as infotainment and telematics go. The seating is quite comfortable, but the front passenger seat would benefit from having a height adjustment to avoid a sinking feeling.

Add to all of the Cadenza's value-heavy features and equipment along with its eye-catching and appealing good looks, Kia's first-ever complimentary Scheduled Maintenance program, and the 2014 Cadenza becomes appealing to budget-minded premium buyer.

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