Sharing the west coast’s preeminent aquarium with my toddler wasn’t an inherently terrible idea but its location, 350 miles from home in Monterey Bay, definitely complicated things. How does one best cover that distance with a frequently fussy 2-year old girl? Our solution was Kelley Blue Book’s long-term Kia Cadenza.

On paper the Cadenza has plenty going for it. As a full-size sedan it’s comparatively large, which is good because modern parents lug more gear than a Mount Everest Sherpa. There are diapers, beach toys, snacks, clothes, a Pack and Play collapsible bed, a bulky stroller, and numerous bins filled with books, stuffed animals, and other distractions. Oh, and space permitting mom and dad’s luggage too. In practice cargo filled trunk and much of the rear seats but nonetheless everything fit.

Of course the real trick when traveling with a toddler is to cover as many miles as possible before the screaming starts. From the child that is. In my experience the keys to success are great range and a powerful V6. Regarding the V6, the Cadenza sports a 290-horsepower 3.3-liter that really rocks when provoked. For any drivers wondering what horizon-bound blur passed them on highway 101 this summer, it may have been a white Kia whose pace was set by a toddler’s mercurial sensibilities.

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Good range, quiet cabin

As for range we made the 223 mile jaunt to Monterey from Bakersfield, where my wife and child were visiting family, without needing to fill up. Actual fuel economy hovered around 25 mpg but at our, let’s say “motivated pace”, that’s not too bad. Had we taken a midsize SUV I doubt we could’ve achieved a similar number. I also wonder how the Cadenza’s ride and handling contributed to our successful trip homebound. Six hours in a car can be tough for adults, let alone an adorable 2-year old girl. Aided by a supple suspension and nicely hushed cabin my daughter napped for a solid 2 hours during first leg south. Could my baby have slept so soundly in a louder, rougher-riding car or SUV? Maybe. Would I willfully choose to risk it? Nope.

Any normal adult can appreciate our long-term Cadenza’s tasteful leather interior but from a parenting perspective leather is pure brilliance. Have you ever tried removing sand, old raisins, and cracker debris from cloth seats? Pray you don’t have to. Leather, on the other hand, cleans up with zero fuss. After all, I’d hate to return KBB’s Kia Cadenza to my fellow editorial team wrapped in toddler-induced stickiness.

Major revelations aside our family trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium revealed several smaller Cadenza insights. A hands-free trunk makes infinitely more sense when wrestling a toddler and a Happy Meal. How I survived summers in Bakersfield as a child without ventilated seats, as found on our Cadenza, is a baffling mystery. Intuitive Apple CarPlay integration via the infotainment system sure is handy, doubly so when your little angel aggressively demands to hear “Wheels on the bus” for the 85th time. In countless big and little ways our aquarium experiment proved that, while SUV popularity continues to swell, the right sedan can road trip with the best of them.

See Past Reports for our Long-Term 2017 Kia Cadenza…


Long-Term Update: Comfort

Long-Term Update: Drivability

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