New Car Review

2016 Kia Cadenza: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader December 2015

When people think of large, upscale sedans, the Kia brand is generally not the first name that comes to mind. The 2016 Kia Cadenza just may change that, however, by offering a powerful V6 engine, attractive pricing and a feature-rich interior that is both modern and plush. The Cadenza also comes with Kia's 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Everywhere you look, the 2016 Cadenza impresses. It has physical presence, with crisp, mature lines courtesy of Kia honcho and former Audi design boss Peter Schreyer. Inside, the materials are classy, giving the rival Toyota Avalon, for example, a real run for its money. Standard features are plentiful, including an Infinity audio system and an 8-inch touchscreen. Throw in appealing options, such as xenon headlights and adaptive cruise control, and you have a lot of car for around $40,000.

What's New for 2016?

For 2016, the Cadenza gains a new, lower cost base trim and adds navigation to its standard equipment list. The Premium trim gains more features including a panoramic sunroof, while the Luxury Plus package option gains a blind spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert.

What We Like

Lots of standard luxuries; grown-up styling inside and out; roomy cabin; comfortable yet capable on the road; excellent touchscreen interface

What We Don't

Big-league pricing; V6 engine could use more low-end oomph; Limited trim's LED map lights remind us of bad fluorescent office lighting

How Much?

$33,815-$45,000

Fuel Economy

The front-wheel-drive Cadenza is powered by a 3.3-liter V6 rated at 293 horsepower and 255 lb-ft of torque. The only available transmission is a 6-speed automatic. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates the Cadenza's fuel economy at 19 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway, good for 22 mpg combined.

Standard Features & Options

The base ($33,815) includes 18-in wheels, an 8-in touchscreen navigation system, UVO voice recognition software, Bluetooth, a 550-watt Infinity 8-speaker audio system, a rearview camera, leather upholstery, and heated front seats with power adjustments for both the driver and passenger. Also standard are heated power mirrors, auto-leveling headlights, push-button starting, keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control and fog lights.

The Premium ($36,815) adds a panoramic sunroof, steering wheel paddle shifters, side mirror puddle lamps, rain-sensing wipers, a backup warning system and a 550-watt Infinity surround sound audio system with 12-speakers and a powered subwoofer.

The Limited ($44,915) includes all the Premium trim's standard and optional equipment, leaving no major options. Standard equipment includes a surround-view monitor, a rear-seat center-armrest USB charging port and cup holders, premium trim for the headliner, pillars, sun visors and rear parcel shelf, a power rear sunshade, active HID headlights, 19-in alloy wheels, Advanced Smart Cruise Control, a lane-departure warning system, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, a power tilt-telescopic steering wheel, an upgraded thin-film-transistor gauge cluster, an electronic parking brake, Nappa leather seating, a 12-way power driver's seat with extendable thigh support, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats (outboard positions only) and a heated steering wheel.

Many of the Limited's features can be added to the Premium trim by ordering the Technology package (includes a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, Advanced Smart Cruise Control, electronic parking brake and 19-in wheels) and the Luxury Plus package (includes HID adaptive headlights, a Nappa leather seats, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, a heated steering wheel, a power tilt-telescopic steering wheel and a power rear sunshade).

Safety

The Cadenza comes standard with anti-lock brakes, stability control and eight airbags (front, front-side, rear-side and full-length side-curtain). The Technology package adds a blind spot monitoring system, a lane-departure warning system and water-repellent glass.

As of this writing, the Cadenza had not been crash-tested by either the government or the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Behind the Wheel

Settle into the driver's seat of the 2016 Kia Cadenza, and it immediately feels like a trusty companion. Whereas most other large, front-wheel-drive sedans feel, well, large, the Cadenza wraps around you with a driver-centric control panel and attractive, deep-set gauges. We also prefer the Limited trim (or upgraded Luxury Plus package on the Premium) due to its 7-in LCD driver information display, which makes the base gauge cluster seem plain by comparison. There's nothing gaudy or over the top in here, though. On the contrary, the Cadenza's interior styling reminds us (dare we say it) of a BMW in the way it whispers "driver's car" with subtle cues.

The Cadenza's main controls are logically laid out -- not always a given in a premium sedan -- and we're thoroughly impressed with the 8-in touchscreen, which follows in the iPad's footsteps with friendly icons and a high-resolution display. As for build quality, time will tell, of course, but our initial impression is that Kia has raised its game to new heights. The materials look and feel upscale, and the dash-mounted analog clock only adds to the effect.

On the road, the Cadenza is dynamically neck and neck with established players, such as the Avalon and the Chrysler 300. The Cadenza's sophisticated suspension lends it remarkable poise for a large car, and it smooths out rough pavement with minimal road noise as a premium sedan should. We wouldn't mind more punch off the line from the V6 -- the Avalon reigns supreme in this category -- but otherwise, the Cadenza's driving demeanor is hard to fault. Cars like this are typically more about the ride than the drive, but the big Kia lets you enjoy both.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 Chevrolet Impala -- Forget about the rental-car specials of yesteryear, because the latest Impala is massively improved. From its eye-catching exterior to its completely overhauled interior, the Impala is on the comeback trail.

2016 Chrysler 300 -- The 300's vaguely menacing style will always be in vogue, and it has one of the nicer interiors that you'll find for the money, along with optional V8 power and all-wheel drive.

2016 Toyota Avalon -- The Avalon has style on its side as well, and its V6 is second to none. You can get a hybrid version that yields an amazing 40 mpg, too.

Used Audi A6 -- For about the same money as a loaded Limited, you can pick up the premium brand cache that comes from owning a 2012-2014 Audi A6. You'll also have the option of quattro all-wheel drive.

Autotrader's Advice

Give us the Cadenza Premium's Luxury Plus package with its Nappa leather seats and premium technology touches, and we'd be all set. That's a lot of car while keeping the price right around $40,000.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Kia Cadenza: New Car Review - Autotrader