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2014 Kia Cadenza takes standard to a new level

| Friday, April 19, 2013, 9:27 p.m.

Buyers looking for a roomy sedan with a lot of luxury features get another option this year, and it's a good-looking, well-powered, impressively mannered four door with a Kia badge on the front.

The 2014 Kia Cadenza, due in showrooms this quarter, takes the automaker's value-for-the-price strategy into the premium sedan market and flat out encourages shoppers to compare.

The list of standard features on the front-wheel drive Cadenza is lengthy and includes leather seats, a rearview camera, navigation system and 18-inch wheels — things that are not standard on the base 2013 Toyota Avalon or base 2013 Buick LaCrosse.

With one engine — a 293-horsepower V-6 — the Cadenza offers more power than the Avalon and the base LaCrosse engine.

And this Kia comes standard with a free telematics system. Among other things, it can save a parked Cadenza's location and help guide the driver back to the vehicle via GPS after a day of shopping or a weeklong vacation.

Kia officials plan to release pricing as the car arrives in showrooms in a few weeks. But they haven't disputed media reports pegging the Cadenza starting retail price somewhere around $33,000 to $34,000. This is where the top-of-the-line versions of the mid-size 2013 Kia Optima SXL sedan are priced.

Though Kia has a reputation for low-priced cars such as the Rio and Soul, the move to a premium sedan isn't unexpected. Kia has been on an 18-year market share surge in the United States and last year sold a record 557,599 vehicles here.

The Cadenza is built on the same platform and uses the same 3.3-liter, double overhead cam, direct injection V-6 that's in the Hyundai Azera sedan, which has a starting retail price of $33,145. Hyundai and Kia are owned by the same South Korean company.

The test Cadenza showed, however, that it is no mere Azera makeover. For one thing, every piece of sheet metal on the outside is different than the Azera's, and the Cadenza is a few inches longer, overall, than the Azera.

Some observers liked the Cadenza's styling more than that of the Azera. They remarked that the headlights are reminiscent of those on a BMW, while the rear end reminded them of an Audi. Perhaps this reflects the work of Peter Schreyer, president and chief design officer at Kia, who used to work for Audi.

Besides its attractive styling, the test Cadenza impressed by how well it handled for a car that's more than 16 feet long.

On highways, the tester rode smoothly and showed itself to be a pleasant cruiser. On potholed city streets, the Cadenza kept the rough stuff away from passengers. On winding, country roads with off-camber sections, the Cadenza hewed close to the pavement and remained poised and controlled. Even in up-and-down road shocks, there was no harshness from the suspension.

Ann M. Job is a contributing writer for the Associated Press.

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