When Kia first entered the U.S marketplace with the Sportage and Sephia, the company ranked at the bottom of J.D. Power’s Customer satisfaction chart behind several marques that are now no longer in existence. Those first two models were poor examples of what automobiles should be. The Kia Cadenza was Kia’s first serious entry into the mid-size luxury class, making its debut in 2013 as a 2014 model based on basically the same platform as that of its sister company Hyundai’s Azera, and paving the way for the 2015 Kia K900, an ultra luxury sedan which replaced the Cadenza as the company’s flagship model.
Now, three years later, the second generation Kia Cadenza has re-emerged at a time when the Korean automaker is at the top of the J.D. Power rankings. The all-new 2017 Kia Cadenza will be available in three levels of trim: the base Premium; mid-range Technology; and the line’s flagship Limited SXL.
Power for all models is delivered by a transversely front mounted 3.3-liter, DOHC, 24-valve, gasoline direct injection V6 engine that produces 290 horsepower at 6,400 rpm while also developing 253 pound feet of torque at 5,200 rpm. Motive force is geared to the front wheels through an electronically controlled 8-speed automatic overdrive transmission with Sportmatic, Smart Shift and Drive Mode Select.
This latest iteration of the Cadenza displays an upscale European-influenced overall design that reflects a new trend among new car buyers – “smart value.” The styling was penned by Peter Schreyer, Kia Motors’ president and chief design officer.
The Cadenza fills a void that formerly existed between mainstream and luxury vehicles. Up front is a new interpretation of Kia’s signature “Tiger-Nose” grille flanked by quad projection beam headlights, nestled behind crystalline lenses. The Cadenza showcases a wide lower fascia that contributes to the Cadenza’s bold, athletic stance, while chrome trim accents surround the fog lights and grille adding to the vehicle’s premium sport sedan flavor. LED positioning lights and projection beam headlights provide additional European sophistication.
Cadenza’s profile or silhouette, provides a strong and elegant image. The vertical nose is imposing, with the long hood sensuously sculpted to meet the swept-back windshield. The greenhouse curves gently to the C-pillar and is surrounded by a tasteful chrome bezel that flares upward at the rear door, creating a beautiful glass droplet. Classic chrome accents adorn the lower portions of the doors and the treatment continues into the rear fascia.
Out back, the standard LED taillights are positioned high on the deck and are designed to cut across a large portion of the vehicle, lending to the Cadenza’s broad stance. The twin tail pipes accentuate the Cadenza’s sporty yet elegant design.
The Cadenza’s interior wraps occupants in a pleasant environment complete with soft leather upholstery and warm wood and chrome accents. Occupants may enjoy both front legroom and headroom, along with soft ambient lighting and horizontally positioned switchgear that provides an uncluttered and sophisticated aesthetic. An analog clock is positioned between the automatic climate controls lending a classic essence.
The center console is angled slightly toward the driver for optimized control, and an available large 7-inch high-resolution TFT LCD screen in the gauge cluster serves up a wide range of vehicle information including turn-by-turn navigation and infotainment. Chrome bezels encase the HVAC and audio controls, air vents and the standard push-button start. Standard Bluetooth, wood-trim door inserts, one-touch automatic up/down power front windows and power-folding heated outside mirrors with integrated turn signal indicators harmoniously blend to form the Cadenza’s upscale aura.
The Cadenza features a sport-tuned fully independent suspension with a MacPherson strut setup forward and a multi-link rear design with dual flow shocks for ride and performance enhancement. The Cadenza rides on standard 245/45R-18 tires, with 245/40R-19 tires optionally available depending upon trim level.
My test 2017 Kia Cadenza was a pre-production unit in SXL Limited trim and wore a Pluto Brown metallic exterior finish, complemented by a Parchment and Charcoal-toned interior, accented by polished gray wood trim. Final pricing had yet to be announced at the time of this writing, but the base sticker is expected to be set at a point under $44,000. The Premium model should come in at just below $32,000. As pre-production units, the cars tested lacked the correct rear-seat console. Production model Cadenza SXLs will arrive in dealerships with a USB charging port for the rear passengers, and press fleet vehicles will be updated over the next few weeks with the correct rear-seat console.
The all-new 2017 Cadenza arrives in showrooms with higher levels of luxury, technology and convenience features than before, and it is packaged in an elegant, bold design inspired by straight line simplicity. The second-generation Cadenza delivers a stronger body structure and powertrain enhancements along with a more satisfying driving experience than before.
The Cadenza’s handling characteristics deliver a planted and stable ride that results in an overall sporty feeling. The electric power steering initially seems a little benign when traveling in a straight line, but steps up to a sportier feel in twisting and challenging scenarios. In fact, set in Sport and Dynamic modes and utilizing the paddle shifters delivers the most exhilarating ride and handling qualities, placing the Cadenza in sport sedan territory.
The old Cadenza was definitely worthy of its flagship status and probably would be today were it not for the more upscale K900. The 3.3-liter V6 serves up a healthy dose of get up and go, with pleasing acceleration response and a broad torque curve, while still managing to deliver a respectable level of fuel economy – 19-mpg city and 28-mpg highway. The automatic is smooth and precise in making its changes, and the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters deliver responsive gear changes without hesitation. Torsional rigidity enjoys a 35 percent improvement.
The interior is well executed and quite comfortable with switchgear properly positioned for easy, intuitive operation, and the inventory of technological features is most impressive. The UVO eServices seems to have the edge on GM’s OnStar system as far as infotainment and telematics go. The seating is quite comfortable, but the front passenger seat would benefit from having a height adjustment to avoid a sinking feeling, or that of sitting in a hole.
Add to all of the Cadenza’s value laden features and equipment along with its eye-catching and appealing good looks, Kia’s complimentary Scheduled Maintenance program, and the 2017 Kia Cadenza SXL Limited becomes equally appealing to one’s budget.
Bottom line, the latest Kia Cadenza is positioned nicely between the Kia Optima and the Kia K900 providing the consumer the opportunity to pick and choose appropriately to suit their tastes and budget.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2017 Kia Cadenza Limited SXL
Base Price: $44,000. Estimated just below $44,000
Price as Tested: $44,895
Engine: 3.3-liter, DOHC, 24-valve, gasoline Direct Injection V6.
Horsepower (bhp): 290 @ 6,400 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 253 @ 5,200 rpm
Transmission: Electronically controlled 8-speed automatic overdrive
with Sportmatic, Smart Shift and Drive.
Drive Train: Transversely mounted front engine / Front-wheel drive
Suspension: Front – Independent MacPherson struts with stabilizer bar.
Rear – Multi-link.
Brakes: Power-assisted dual diagonal, split circuit system
Tires: Michelin Primacy MXM4 P245/45 R18 / P245 40 R19 mounted on 5 double “V” (V within a V) 20-spoke Alloy wheels.
Wheelbase: 112.4 inches
Length Overall: 195.7 inches
Width: 73.6 inches
Height: 57.9 inches
Curb Weight: 3,799 lbs.
Turning Circle: 37.2 ft.
Fuel Capacity: 18.5 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 20 mpg city / 28 mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: 0.28
Check out this related TFLcar video first-drive review of the 2017 Kia Cadenza: