New Car Review

2017 Kia Cadenza: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader September 2016

Although the big-car segment isn't the dog fight that the midsize-sedan class is, vying with the likes of the Toyota Avalon, the Chevrolet Impala and the Buick LaCrosse is important -- if not critical -- for any carmaker aspiring to become a top-tier player in the U.S. market. That accurately describes Kia.

Practically no one would characterize the arrival of the redesigned 2017 Kia Cadenza as widely anticipated -- the Cadenza isn't fodder for many water-cooler conversations or a favorite topic around the dinner table. In fact, average sales since Kia launched the original 2014 Cadenza in 2013 have been fewer than 10,000 per year.

Whether motivated by stubbornness, whimsy or the drive to create a better mousetrap, Kia cut short the lifespan of the first-generation Cadenza to bring a reinvigorated version to showrooms this fall. It isn't exactly a swing for the fences, but the 2017 is significantly better in several areas, including its powertrain and its cabin.

What's New for 2017?

Kia completely redesigned the Cadenza for 2017; it gets an all-new 8-speed automatic transmission and a larger, more plush interior, as well as a lighter and somewhat stiffer platform.

What We Like

Simpler, more elegant exterior styling; quicker acceleration; improved driving dynamics; upscale interior furnishings; rear-seat legroom; value

What We Don't

Fuel economy still lags behind some competitors; full suite of automatic safety technologies isn't available on the entry-level grade

How Much?

We expect it to start around $32,000.

Fuel Economy

Only one engine powers every Cadenza. It's a 290-horsepower 3.3-liter V6, delivering 253 lb-ft of peak torque. Basically carried over from the previous-generation sedan, it turns the front wheels via an all-new 8-speed, driver-shiftable automatic transmission built in-house by Kia. Despite two extra gears, it's lighter than the outgoing 6-speed.

The transmission's weight loss and the added efficiency from those extra gears, combined with the 40-or-so pounds also trimmed from the chassis, help explain the slight improvement in mileage. Fuel economy in the 2017 Kia Cadenza is a government-estimated 20 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. This is a 1-mpg improvement in city driving over the previous Cadenza.

Standard Features & Options

Kia offers the Cadenza in three grades: Premium, Technology and Limited.

The Premium trim comes right out of the box with 18-inch alloy wheels, heated outboard mirrors with integrated turn signals, leather seating, heated front seats, a 10-way power adjustable driver's seat, an 8-way power adjustable passenger seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button start, a rearview camera, a 7-in touchscreen, a UVO infotainment interface, Bluetooth connectivity and an 8-speaker audio system with satellite-radio capability. Power-folding outboard mirrors, a panoramic power sunroof, a navigation system with an 8-in touchscreen, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-change assist and rear parking assist are all options.

The Technology trim includes all Premium standard and optional features, adding 19-in alloy wheels, LED headlights, auto rain-sensing wipers, a heated power tilt-telescopic steering wheel, a 14-way power-adjustable driver's seat, a 10-way power-adjustable passenger seat, smartphone wireless charging, high-beam assist, autonomous emergency braking, smart cruise control, lane-departure warning, forward-collision warning, surround-view cameras and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system.

The Limited trim builds on the Technology's standard equipment and adds a power rear-window sun shade, Nappa leather seating, heated rear outboard seats, a smart power trunk and a heads-up display.

Safety

The two top trim levels come standard with a comprehensive suite of automatic safety and driver-assist technologies, including forward-collision warning, emergency braking, lane-departure warning and assist and a blind spot monitoring system. Some of these are options on the entry-level grade. Seven airbags, including a driver-side knee-bolster bag, are standard across the Cadenza lineup.

The redesigned Cadenza has yet to be crash-tested.

Behind the Wheel

If you're looking for a big sedan that's eager to cleave the corners, you might want to look elsewhere. Although the 2017 Cadenza has shed a few pounds and is a bit more aggressive in accelerating, it's still primarily a boulevard-cruiser, whisking its occupants along in comfy quiet. The Cadenza is all about the passenger experience, offering the most rear-seat legroom in its segment and a trunk capacity that's greater than most competitors.

Kia updated the suspension with more advanced shock absorbers that adjust to ever-changing conditions. They seem well-mated to the lighter, stiffer structure. Three driving-mode settings provide some control over how aggressively the transmission shifts. We kept ours in Sport mode for most of our time behind the wheel and had no issue zipping around slower traffic when we needed to.

It may not set a new bar in its segment, but the 2017 Cadenza delivers just what a large, upscale people-hauler should: refinement, comfort and the latest in technology.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 Toyota Avalon -- It's not possible to talk about large sedans without including the Avalon. Roomy, comfortable and quiet, with solid fuel economy for a big car, this is exactly the sort of land yacht most big-sedan owners demand.

2017 Buick LaCrosse -- Mention the name Buick to most people over the age of 50, and most likely the first adjective that pops into their head is "big." The redesigned LaCrosse is that, but now it's also as agile as it is comfortable.

2017 Chevrolet Impala -- The Impala's highlights include a stylish exterior, plenty of passenger space, boulevard ride and a beefy V6. It's also loaded with technology. That pretty much checks all the large-sedan boxes.

Autotrader's Advice

There are compelling reasons to spend the $7,000-or-so extra to get the Technology grade instead of the Premium. The full suite of automatic safety and driver-assistance technologies, as well as the spectacular state-of-the-art Harman Kardon surround-sound system are two of them. If you have the extra cash, we think the Cadenza Technology is the way to go.

Find a Kia Cadenza for sale

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.
2017 Kia Cadenza: New Car Review - Autotrader