Just when you think Kia's done climbing the ladder, they go and build something like the new full-size 2014 Kia Cadenza sedan. With the stylish Optima, Kia's already shown it can build a world-class family sedan. With the Cadenza, they're taking on near-luxury sedans like the Chevrolet Impala and Toyota Avalon. Tough crowd, right? Hey, we were skeptical too, but here are five reasons why the new Cadenza really won us over.

1. Classy Styling

The Cadenza is a great-looking car. That's no surprise, because Kia's president used to run the design team at Audi. Check out the Cadenza's subtle, sophisticated lines. It really does have a refined, European look to it. We especially like the LED running lights in the front and rear -- that's another Audi-inspired touch. Look beyond the Kia badge and you'll see some real beauty in the Cadenza.

2. Strong V6 Performance

Unlike the cheaper Optima, which is strictly a 4-cylinder sedan, the Cadenza comes standard with a 3.3-liter V6 engine that cranks out 293 horsepower. Thanks in part to new technologies such as direct fuel injection, this V6 has an exceptionally lively feel when you hit the gas. Luxury sedan shoppers want confident power, and the Cadenza definitely delivers. You don't normally think of Kias as being fast cars, but the Cadenza breaks the mold.

3. True Luxury Ride

Although the Cadenza actually handles pretty well in corners, it's the luxurious ride that takes center stage. This is a luxury car in the classic sense of the term: It's designed to eat up highway miles and isolate you from impacts and noise, and it does a brilliant job. Many will prefer the Cadenza's compliance to the firm, sporty rides that are so in vogue these days.

4. Well-Equipped Cabin

The Cadenza looks great inside, too, but there's plenty of function to go with its form. Standard features include an 8-inch touchscreen, a 550-watt Infinity stereo, leather upholstery and even push-button start. Plus, the materials are generally high-quality, and that's key in this segment. If you're thinking the Cadenza couldn't possibly be as nice inside as the Avalon, think again. It might even be nicer.

5. Huge Back Seat

Just take one look at the Cadenza's massive back seat and you'll see what we're talking about. A couple 6-footers could hang out all day back there, no problem. That's another thing we like about the Cadenza: It's a luxury car for all occupants -- not just those in front. Why cram into a compact or midsize luxury car's back seat when you can lounge in the back of a Cadenza?

AutoTrader's Advice

The more time we spent with the 2014 Kia Cadenza, the harder it was to find anything wrong with it. Kia's been moving on up for a while now, and luxury sedan shoppers are about to see why.

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Josh Sadlier is an automotive journalist based in Los Angeles and has contributed to such publications as Edmunds.com and DriverSide.com. He holds arguably the most unexpected degree in his profession: a master's in Theological Studies.

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