It should be hard to drive 2175 miles in two days, and those two days of driving should be even harder when they’re bookended by three days of little sleep, lots of partying, and really loud music, but driving our Four Seasons Kia Cadenza to and from Hangout Music Festival in Gulf Shores, Alabama, couldn’t have been easier.

Time to Hangout

Hangout hosted acts such as the Black Keys, the Flaming Lips, Portugal, The Man, and Gary Clark Jr., which performed on two main stages that are both built on top of the beach. What better way to start summer than by going to a stacked-deck, three-day music festival on the beach? A dozen of our friends in Chicago agreed, so we bought tickets and rented a fifteen-person house for the weekend.

The trio of hitchhikers

We couldn’t make a beeline from Ann Arbor, because we had to go to Chicago to pick up a few friends who wanted to hitch a ride. Our three passengers had as little trouble fitting their belongings into the Kia Cadenza’s trunk as they did getting comfortable in the sedan (the very flexible yoga instructor didn’t even have to contort her body to make room in the back seat for her tattooed, black-bearded, soon-to-be husband).

Kia or BMW?

After the first two hours of catching up ended, conversation had thinned so we asked the redhead in the front passenger seat what she thought of the Cadenza. “It looks like a luxury car but is a Kia, so that's weird,” she said. “But I guess it's put together pretty well.” Then we asked if she’d rather have a fully optioned Kia or a bare-bones BMW? “Oh, I'd rather have a BMW than a Kia any day. I don't really care about the options.” The tattooed, black-bearded man in the back responded: “I would not be ashamed to represent for Kia. I love these options. I’d drive this thing every day. It reminds me of an Infiniti.” “Turn Blue” by the Black Keys came on the radio, so we stopped talking and turned up the Infinity audio system.

Changing time zones

Soon after, the trio of hitchhikers fell asleep. We were impressed by the audio system’s sound quality after turning the volume way down and still hearing every bit of “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd. That also says a lot about how quiet the Kia Cadenza is on the highway, where road and wind noise are both minimal. Bored with no one to talk to, we started going through the list of Cadenza’s interesting luxury touches in our head—the heated rear seats, the Nappa leather-trimmed seats, the analog clock…and just then, somewhere in Indiana, we crossed time zones and saw the analog clock spin backwards to correct itself. This might not excite you, but, bored with no one to talk to, we thought we’d witnessed something spectacular. We continued south through Indiana, sped straight through Louisville, and finally stopped near Nashville for fuel and a driver change.

Adapting to adaptive cruise control

We slid into the back seat and said, “Not a bad place to be, huh?” “No,” replied the yoga instructor, “and I love that big sunroof.” We started to close our eyes in hopes of getting some much-needed sleep, but then the tattooed, black-bearded man asked, “How do I set cruise control?” Ah, crap. Explaining not only what adaptive cruise control is but also how to use it took a solid fifteen minutes. Once he’d gotten the hang of it, though, he dug adaptive cruise control. “I think it's helpful. As soon as some [expletive] slow driver in your lane gets out of your way, you're back up to speed right away.”

Getting to the Gulf

After a quick nap, we retook the wheel and drove the last leg to the beach house. After thirteen hours in the Kia Cadenza we’d expected to have sore backs and joints, but all of us felt fine. We walked into the beach house, and the rest of our dozen friends immediately asked what car we’d brought down and were less than excited when we said “a Kia”. We grabbed a beer before hanging the Cadenza’s key fob on a coat hook, where it stayed for the next three days.

After the music stopped

At dawn, after a late night spent watching Outkast’s performance and the fireworks that followed the festival’s final act, the sunburnt and bleary-eyed redhead, yoga instructor, and tattooed, black-bearded man stumbled into the Cadenza’s passenger’s seats. We wiped the sleep from our eyes and got into the driver’s seat. The trio dozed off before we could plug a destination into the car’s navigation system. And since the Cadenza’s system is really easy to input information into, that should tell you how tired we were.

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