In good company

kia cadenza aerial

Let's play word association. I say the word "Kia," what comes to mind? A decent economy car, maybe. Perhaps with hamsters?

What does not come mind is a nice, big comfortable near-luxury car. But that's exactly what the new Kia Cadenza is and, I have to tell you, it surprised me in a way few cars have.

The Cadenza's in a really tough competitive arena. It goes up against cars like the Hyundai Azera, Toyota Avalon, Chrysler 300 and the new Chevrolet Impala. And there's not a loser in that bunch.

In that sense,the Cadenza fits right in. It looks and feels sharp. Maybe not better than the rest, but at least as good. And it offers a distinctly different flavor from the others. The Cadenza is for those who want just a hint of spice compared to the bland dishes the others are serving.

First published December 10, 2013: 7:58 AM ET

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