I have to be honest. When I first got behind the wheel of a 2018 Kia Cadenza Limited, my first reaction was “grandma car.”
The Snow White Pearl paint job was applied to a sleek body design, the 19-inch dark satin wheels did offer a look of sophistication, and pushing the ignition button was followed by the growl of a V6 engine. So, I dunno, perhaps I’m prejudiced against large sedans, immediately associating them with older people, who would no doubt appreciate plopping into dark brown Nappa leather seats that are as comfortable as a recliner facing a Murder She Wrote rerun.
Yep, I felt pretty smug tooling around in what was in my mind a granny mobile, thinking up in my head the old fart jokes I’d roll into into this review, until I peered into the rearview mirror, caught the eyes of the backseat rider and was hit with this sudden realization: I was spending a long weekend in the Cadenza with my grandson.
By virtue of the driver, this particular 2018 Kia Cadenza Limited was a grandparent car, and under the terms of the release form I signed from the North American headquarters of the South Korean automaker, it would remain so because this particular Pop-Pop was the only authorized driver for the one-week test period.
So, rather than regale you with dusty old knee-slappers about the golden years, I’m going to roll with the Cadenza creature comforts. Those aforementioned front seats are power adjustable and can be ventilated, and all of them in the sedan can be heated.
There are rear vents for the dual zone automatic climate control unit, and built-in sunshades can be deployed for the rear and back passenger windows. A panoramic sunroof means the skies above can be viewed from both rows of seating.
From the front seats, you can control navigation system, the Harman Kardon Premium Audio system, the SiriusXM satellite radio (that comes with a three-month subscription) and Kia UVO infotainment system from the eight-inch touchscreen with rear-view camera.
UVO includes access to Bluetooth, hands-free calling/texting, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a “Personal Assistant” that automatically sets parking times and meter reminders and supplies trip information and turn-by-turn directions (including to pre-selected points of interest).
Kia UVO’s eServices can connect you to roadside assistance or a 911 operator, who is automatically summoned if your airbags deploy, and it even runs vehicle diagnostics and warns you about issues of a critical nature that must be attended to immediately.
Loaning the Cadenza out to a younger driver? Then set Uvo up to have speed and curfew alerts sent to your smartphone, and a Geo Fence can be established to warn if the driver has wandered outside pre-established boundaries and/or into a restricted area.
Parental and grandparentals will appreciate that the 2018 Kia Cadenza Limited is loaded with safety features, including driver’s knee, dual front advanced, dual front and rear mounted side and full-length side curtain airbags.
There is a traction-control system, electronic stability control and an anti-lock braking system, autonomous emergency braking and an electronic parking brake. Also included is a head-up display, hill-start assist control and automatic warnings for blind spots, forward collisions, lane departures and rear-cross traffic.
I still need someone to explain how a surround view monitor, like the one on the Cadenza, manages to get the overhead shot of your car backing up. Does it send up a drone? A rear parking assist system is included as well.
No matter what the age is of the driver, all the added safety and ease-of-driving features are necessary because, truth be told, this 3.3-liter, Gas Direct Injection, V6 sucker hauls. It is also uber responsive to the driver’s commands, which can include kicking it up a notch with the paddle shifters or, even better, the eight speed automatic transmission’s “Sportmatic” driving mode.
That’s what Kia calls its “automated manual driving mode.” Next to drive on the transmission grid, you can pull the gear shifter toward you and engage Sportmatic. As you continue driving, you can push the plus sign on the grid to go up a gear or the minus sign to downshift. And here I’d just gotten used to the paddles!
Everything mentioned so far is not an extra, nor are LED headlights/fog lights, auto rain sensing windshield wipers, heated and power folding exterior mirrors with LED turn signals and the smart power trunk you can open with your smart key and close by pushing a button on the trunk frame.
The cargo mat and carpeted floor mats are listed as additional equipment, but they come at no cost. The only additional costs on my test ride were $50 for a cargo net and $80 for a cargo tray. With all that and a $900 inland freight and handling fee, it had a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $45,720. That, to me, is expensive, but when compared the MSRP of other large sedans, it’s not so much, especially when considering all those features.
The government says annual fuel costs will be $1,550 or $1,000 more than you’d spend over five years for the average 2019 vehicle. The EPA rates the fuel economy at 23 miles to the gallon combined (28 mpg highway, 20 mpg city), and the Cadenza Limited scores a five on the 1-10 (10 being best) fuel economy and greenhouse gas rating and a three for smog. Government five-star safety ratings for crashes were not available.
Kia offers a 10-year or 100,000 miles (whichever comes first) powertrain warranty and five years or 60,000 miles limited basic warranty and roadside assistance. And there’s plenty of room in the trunk for this Pop-Pop’s walker.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.