Pros: Confident acceleration from standard 293-horsepower V6; loads of standard equipment, including a navigation system, rearview camera, and heated front seats; high-class cabin
Cons: Ride composure doesn’t quite measure up to class leaders; no stand-alone options, only Luxury and Technology packages that cost $3K each
CG Says: Cadenza is Kia’s new-for-2014 flagship sedan. It is the largest car in this South Korean brand’s lineup, slotting above the midsize Optima sedan. The front-wheel-drive Cadenza shares its basic design with the Azera sedan from Hyundai, Kia’s corporate parent. Like its Azera cousin, Cadenza sports expressive styling, upscale interior trimmings, and a good selection of comfort and convenience features. Cadenza is new to the U.S. market, but Kia has been selling a version of this model overseas since 2009. Kia is positioning Cadenza as a “premium-segment” entry; it competes primarily with large cars such as the Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Impala, Chrysler 300, and Toyota Avalon. Cadenza shares many of its strengths and weaknesses with its cousin, the Hyundai Azera. In the plus column are its sprightly acceleration, a classy interior, good passenger/cargo space, and a generous helping of standard features. In the negative column are a lack of stand-alone options and ride composure that doesn’t quite match class leaders. Though Cadenza lives up to its upscale aspirations, Kia’s decision to position its new flagship sedan at that level means that there are no “value leader” versions to be had. As such, most large-car rivals start out at significantly less than the Cadenza’s $35K base price.