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Shock Value

Kia sings a new tune with its upscale, all-new Cadenza.

By The Numbers
Sticker  •  $35,900 (base MSRP)
Under the Hood  •  3.3-liter V6
Curb Weight  •  3,792 lbs.
Horsepower  •  293 hp
Torque  •  255 lb-ft.
0-to-60  •  6.2 seconds

Dept. of the Interior
The elegant “White Interior Package”
is available at no extra cost –
provided you pony up the $6,000
for the Luxury and Technology

Merriam-Webster defines “sticker shock” as “astonishment and dismay experienced on being informed of a product’s unexpectedly high price.” So perhaps you can imagine my surprise (to put it kindly) when I glanced at the price of my 2014 Kia Cadenza test car and noted a hefty $41,900… for a Kia.

Maybe you are a bit shocked to even be reading about a Kia in this column, which typically touts the latest and greatest from the luxury world’s establishment – you know, the Germans, the Brits, the Japanese, perhaps maybe an American from time to time. But a Korean automaker, like Kia?

Verboten! So instead of considering the Cadenza among the current ranks of luxury sedans, think of it more as an opening salvo in Kia’s aggressive push into the upper crust – which is where the company expects to be a legitimate player by 2017. 

Audacious? Maybe. But consider the context. Kia’s corporate parent, Hyundai, has unabashedly pursued a similar strategy with its upscale Genesis and Equus sedans. Aimed at siphoning buyers from the likes of the Mercedes-Benz E-class and S-class, respectively, the result has actually been class-leading entrants into the burgeoning “near-luxury” niche.

Meanwhile, Kia itself is currently riding a wave of success in other segments with its eye-catching Optima midsize sedan and quirky Soul crossover box. Not bad for a company best known (or was it unknown?) a few years ago for duds like the Amanti sedan.

As for my sticker shock, it quickly subsided as my glance moved from the Cadenza’s price to its well-appointed interior. Filled with the aroma of the buttery soft white nappa leather and bathed in sunlight from a panoramic glass roof, the environment was indeed upscale. On the road, the Cadenza felt both poised and potent, never struggling. It also comes very well equipped, with a long list of standard features including 18-inch alloy wheels, 10-way power heated and ventilated driver’s seat, navigation, rearview camera, rear park assist, and voice command. Considering the Cadenza’s standard equipment – as well as its ample size, elegant styling and smooth performance – suddenly, the sticker seems less of a shock and more of a value.

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