Packing an excessive amount of gear into a beautiful design and selling it for a steal of a deal is what Kia does to win friends and influence buyers. There’s no better example of this philosophy than the 2017 Cadenza sedan that's due to arrive later this year.
Not all that long ago few people would have believed that any Korea-based automaker would be selling luxury cars in North America. Today, Hyundai is spinning off the Genesis into a separate upscale brand and Hyundai’s Kia division has both mid-luxury Cadenza and upper-range K900 four-door sedans in its lineup. Part of the credit goes to Kia design boss Peter Schreyer. There’s enough new stuff in the latest designed-in-California Cadenza compared to the original model that launched for 2014 that you could accurately describe it as a second-generation model. Although overall length remains untouched, the distance between the front and rear wheels has increased slightly, which translates into a bit more rear-seat legroom.
The roofline has been extended rearward by two inches for a sportier look, while trunk space has increased somewhat. Additional visual enhancement is clearly evident in the front. The Cadenza’s grilles depart from Kia’s signature “tiger nose” design and are now concave. The “Diamond Butterfly” grille on the base Cadenza appears similar to what you’ll find on other Kia models. On upper trim levels, the “Intaglio” grille with vertical bars looks like those installed on Maserati luxury cars. Kia says the new Cadenza platform is lighter and about 35 percent stiffer.
Also keeping the pounds off (it weighs in with slightly fewer pounds, despite having extra sound-deadening materials) is the use of aluminum suspension components. The reworked interior now has a wraparound dashboard and the door-panel materials have been upgraded. The driver’s seat can be ordered with an adjustable cushion extension that is claimed to be more supportive for the legs and helps reduce fatigue. Some semblance of carry-over familiarity is evident with the Cadenza’s powerplant, which is essentially the same 3.3-liter V-6 as before. Retuning the engine for improved fuel economy has resulted in an output of 290 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque, representing a virtually indiscernible loss of three horsepower and a meager two pound-feet. The V-6 now ships torque to the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission instead of a six-speed unit. Kia estimates the Cadenza will achieve a rating of 20 mpg in the city and 28 on the highway, compared with 19 / 28 for the 2016 model. The only sticking point with the Cadenza is the lack of all-wheel-drive availability, which is a vital technology that nearly every competing car can offer.
Type: Four-door, front-wheel-drive full-size sedan
Engine: 3.3-liter DOHC V-6 (290 horsepower)
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Safety: Anti-lock brakes; stability control; front-impact airbags; side-impact airbags; emergency braking; blind-spot warning with cross-traffic alert (optional); active cruise control (optional); emergency braking (optional); lane-departure warning (optional)
Fuel mileage: 20 mpg (city)/28 mpg (highway)
MSRP: Starting at $34,000