The 2017 Kia Cadenza edges closer to the true luxury car it wants to be, thanks to big advances in refinement.
The new 2017 Kia Cadenza takes aim at two of the outgoing full-size sedan's big sore spots: Its conservative styling and its lack of driving polish. And, by and large, the automaker has succeeded with a new big sedan that looks and feels a class above its predecessor.
The Cadenza is available in just three flavors—Premium, Technology, and SXL—and it features only a single powertrain choice. That should make for easy shopping for comfort-oriented sedan buyers, especially those who aren't super brand-conscious yet want a luxury-car feel and feature set without breaking the bank.
We assign it an overall rating of 7.4, with comfort and features leading its high scores. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
2017 Kia Cadenza styling and performance
More than anywhere else, the 2017 Cadenza ups its game inside, where it counts, with an interior far more focused on hand-crafted (or at least hand-crafted-looking) details and an upgraded material set. And with Kia’s first 8-speed automatic transmission in a front-wheel-drive sedan, the Cadenza also makes gains in fuel consumption and drivability.
A good deal more elegant than its predecessor outside, the 2017 Cadenza appears a little sportier—but that's all smoke and mirrors since this four-door remains focused on cosseting and not carving corners. The Cadenza is the same size as its predecessor, albeit with a slightly longer roofline and wheelbase designed to improve interior space. The Peter Schreyer-penned sheet metal itself is a little more organic and less-creased with more brightwork to punctuate the look—framing the Kia family grille with a nice, more ornate counterpoint to the simplicity of last year's model.
The 2017 Cadenza is motivated by a 3.3-liter V-6 engine rated 290 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque that delivers its power exclusively to the front wheels via a new 8-speed automatic gearbox. A new body structure is both lighter and stiffer than before thanks to extensive use of high strength steels and structural adhesives, which allowed engineers to loosen up the Cadenza's suspension. The result is a sedan that's vastly more refined than before, letting in only a hint of the outside world as it whittles away the miles.
Cadenza quality, safety, and features
Interior accommodations in the Cadenza have improved for everyone, whether they’re in the front or back seat. A lower driver's seat improves headroom and a new cushion extends at the press of a switch for taller drivers, but no massing feature is available like on the Buick LaCrosse.
On the safety front, all Cadenzas include nine airbags including a knee airbag for the driver. Technology and SXL models include as standard lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control. Those important features can't be ordered on the Premium, but the entry-level trim does offer an optional blind spot detection system and rear cross traffic alert.
SXL models deliver the ultimate in cosseting with a suede headliner, a heads-up display, a wireless smartphone charging pad, and a feature that opens the trunk if the driver lingers at the back of the vehicle for three seconds. All Cadenzas have a version of Kia's UVO infotainment including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with all but the base Premium including an 8-inch version with navigation.
The Cadenza's new 8-speed automatic improves fuel economy to an EPA-estimated 20 mpg city, 28 highway, 23 combined—figures that still fall short of some key rivals.