2014 Kia Cadenza Limited Road Test and Review


When you drive the Kia Cadenza around Los Angeles you’ll get a lot of questions.

What IS that car?

What does it feel like?

Is it expensive?

I didn’t know Kia made NICE cars.

I answered like this:

It’s a Kia Cadenza.

Like a BMW with a Japanese suspension.

Not particularly for what it is.

I know RIGHT?

And then we’d talk about cars and status and you get more respect in a Mercedes Benz but damn if that car wasn’t the most boring thing I ever owned. You see if I were trying to compare the Cadenza to another luxury vehicle I’d probably pick the BMW 5 series. The Cadenza doesn’t have the tight steering and suspension of a BMW but it comes with a host of luxuries that other cars haven’t even considered yet.

The Cadenza drives beautifully, it’s smooth and with a V6 engine boastingĀ 293 horses it’s more than fast enough to get around the city and the highway.

The only problem people will have with the Kia is in the badge. If you’re in the market for a luxury car because you want people to see that you’re a luxury car driver this is not the vehicle for you. Unlike Toyota and Acura, Kia hasn’t split their luxury line into a separate company. That means there’s no equivalent of Lexus or Acura to be had. That’s a reality they’ll need to overcome but I think it can be done with ease when the price point of the Kia is generally at least $10,000 less than their German brethren.

Let’s talk about what you get for $43,000 that isn’t standard in other vehicles

  • Dual zone air with filtration
  • Airbags everywhere
  • Blind spot detection
  • Lane departure warning
  • Heated front and rear seats
  • Nappa leather seats
  • Heated steering wheel (forgive the bold but this is the most fabulous thing in the world)
  • Ventilated front seats
  • Advanced smart cruise control
  • Power rear sunshade
  • Smart key

There’s a longer list than this, but these are the features I love that were missing from luxury vehicles I’d recently driven (and owned), one was a full $25,000 more than the Cadenza. It’s clearly a vehicle for folks who are looking for value.

One of the fun (and safe) things that Kia has added to their cruise control is adaptive cruise control. I first saw this on the 2015 Genesis and had an absolute blast driving way too fast and never braking. Basically you set your cruise control to 65 (or whatever speed) and then if the car in front of you slows down your Cadenza slows down as well. As they speed up you speed up. It’sĀ an absolute blast and a significant safety upgrade.

I’d encourage luxury car shoppers to check the Cadenza and more moderate shoppers to know that they can get a luxury car in their price range. It’s an interesting thing that Kia has done, declining to set up a luxury badge and keeping the cost down to consumers.

Kia cadenza


kia cadenza instruments





2013 Acura ILX Tech Hybrid Road Test and Review


When the Acura ILX showed up at my house I was really excited. I thought that it would be nice to compare with my Lexus HS… apples to apples sort of thing and all. Well, that’s really not possible because the HS is no longer made, though I am looking forward to driving the Lexus ES hybrid for 2013. It doesn’t seem to compare well to either vehicle as it’s (surprisingly) in a different pricepoint.

The car I drove is the ILX with the tech hybrid package with a total drive off price of $35,295. The window sticker says to expect about 38 MPG combined city and highway on it and I found that to be fairly accurate.

The interior is spacious and luxurious. The kids have plenty of room in the back seat and one of the kids in our carpool is a leggy 5’10”.

When I get these cars I drive like a jerk for the first day or two. The ILX is interesting because just to the left of the steering wheel is a little button that says “ECON”. Most hybrids assume that the driver cares not one whit about performance and that they’re content to chug along with a gas pedal that could double as a suggestion box. Acura assumes you want performance so days one and two were spent in sports mode with the ECON button not depressed and me racing off the line at red lights like it’s the Indy 500. It’s a horrible way to drive a car and not particularly joyful unless the car has decent pickup and the ILX has more than decent pickup when you’re not conserving precious fossil fules.

Fortunately the ILX hybrid doesn’t cater only to jerks and for the next several days I played with the car in drive and ECON mode. For the week combined I ended up with an average of 36 MPG and on the days when I drove like a normal human being should (not hypermiling either) I consistently was between 41-43 MPG. Keep in mind that I’m a mostly city driver and hybrids are perfect for lifestyles like mine.

This is the MPG when I’m driving in sport mode and racing everyone off the line. It’s impressive.

I felt like I was in a really snazzy Honda Accord. The dash is low and the visibility is good. I’m not sure why in recent years automotive manufacturers haven’t given us better views of the road. Maybe it’s because they’re busy accommodating the navigation systems?

Speaking of navigation systems I’m ready to declare the Acura navigation system to be my favorite of all time. I know, I’m not supposed to play favorites but theirs is done right. It’s intuitive and it’s complete. It’s the only navigation system that I’ve used which offers accurate traffic. As an Angelino I cannot emphasize enough how valuable this is.

We didn’t love the audio package. It was a little tinny and I might suggest an upgrade if you are a music lover. It would probably be fine for me as equipped because, let’s face it, no amount of tuning will make Call Me Maybe sound good and I lost control of the radio a few years ago.

Safety is critical and the 2013 Acura ILX has received the highest possible safety rating of top safety pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The IIHS award recognizes vehicles that do the best job of protecting vehicle occupants involved in front, side and rear crashes, plus rollover performance based on ratings in the Institute’s tests. It is worth noting that the IIHS uses these tests to determine how much your auto insurance costs so they have a few million reasons to be as accurate (and tough) as possible.

A couple of details for my friends who love buying American: 45% of the parts are US or Canadian and just 35% are from Japan and the final assembly point is in Greensburg, Indiana.