2011 Kia Cadenza Preview

Jeff Youngs | Dec 31, 2010
  • All-new, full-size Kia model, replacing the Amanti sedan
  • LX and EX trim levels
  • 3.5-liter V-6 engine powering the front wheels
  • 6-speed automatic transmission with sequential manual shift feature
  • Accelerates to 60 mph in about 7 seconds
  • Bigger inside than Amanti
  • Standard automatic climate control
  • Standard welcome lighting system
  • Available panoramic glass roof
  • Available reversing camera


2011 Kia CadenzaWith a name derived from a musical term describing an "elaborate, ornamental flourish" or "a concerto or aria," the 2011 Kia Cadenza is set to replace the Kia Amanti in the Korean automaker's lineup. The Amanti, as you may or may not recall, is a large pseudo-luxury sedan with knockoff Mercedes E-Class front styling that is commonly found in rental car lots at major U.S. airports. It has been on sale long past its expiration date, meaning that the Cadenza cannot arrive a moment too soon.

The Cadenza, according to Kia, will compete in the large luxury segment. Think Chrysler 300 or Lincoln MKS and not BMW 7 Series or Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and you'll immediately understand the kind of buyer Kia hopes to woo into showrooms with its all-new flagship model.

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2011 Kia Cadenza


The 2011 Cadenza "boasts an appearance that will humble potential rivals," according to Kia. Designer Peter Schreyer, who came to Kia after a successful stint at Audi, says the Cadenza "looks masculine and luxurious" with "a confident stance, dignity, and elegant personality." As with all matters associated with design, it's the consumer that makes the ultimate judgment call on styling. Kia also claims that this big sedan slips through the atmosphere with a 0.29 coefficient of drag.

Compared to the outgoing Amanti, the Kia Cadenza has a longer wheelbase and is wider, creating a bigger cabin than the old car, but is shorter in length. Interior details were not available at the time this article was originally published, except that the Cadenza has a floating, two-tier dashboard design, and that ambient and "mood" lighting plays a key role in creating a serene cabin. Given the Cadenza's luxury intentions, it's safe to say the car can be outfitted in leather upholstery, and possibly even wood trim.

Model Lineup

Kia plans to sell the 2011 Cadenza in LX and EX trim levels, in keeping with nomenclature used throughout its lineup. There will not be a sporty SX trim level-at least, not initially. Standard and optional equipment lists had not been announced at the time this preview was published, but the Cadenza LX is expected to include LED accent lighting at the front and rear of the car, a welcome lighting system that activates exterior puddle lights and interior lighting as the owner approaches the car with the keyless entry fob, ambient interior lighting, and dual-zone automatic climate control. In advance introductory materials, Kia also says the Cadenza will be available with an interior "mood lamp," panoramic glass roof, keyless entry and engine starting, reversing sensors, rearview camera with display in the rearview mirror, and a power thigh extension for the driver's seat. However, it is unclear whether these additional features will come standard on the Cadenza EX or not.

2011 Kia Cadenza


A 3.5-liter V-6 engine is the most likely candidate to power the 2011 Kia Cadenza in North America. The Lambda-II V-6 is expected to make about 280 horsepower, and Kia says it will accelerate the car to 60 mph in about 7 seconds. A 6-speed automatic transmission, complete with sequential manual shift feature, delivers power to the Cadenza's front wheels, alloys that measure 16 inches on the Cadenza LX and 17 inches on the Cadenza EX. Considering the size of this luxury-oriented model, and Americans' penchant for big wheel-and-tire combos, it's entirely possible that Kia will decide to bump wheel sizes by an inch for each trim level prior to debut.

Additional details about the Cadenza's mechanicals include a 4-wheel-independent suspension with MacPherson struts in front and a multi-link arrangement in back, a hydraulic rack-and-pinion steering system, and 4-wheel-disc brakes. Given the car's stature in the Kia hierarchy, we'd also expect standard ABS, traction control and stability control.
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