Entry Price: $31,990
Price as Tested: $43,900
This week, we’re driving the new generation 2017 Kia Cadenza, a mid-size luxury sedan that’s been on the market since 2014. With a near half inch longer wheelbase than last year, stronger yet lighter chassis components and new tech features, our top line Limited SXL model came standard with a bevy of amenities and not one single option.
This new Cadenza is especially good looking thanks to its new shark nose grille and attractive rear deck properties. It also has the latest of gadgets and modern necessities, like a wireless Smartphone charger, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a fine sounding 12-speaker Harman Kardon stereo system that is controlled by tuning knobs instead of the cumbersome touchscreens so popular today.
Notable is a luxurious interior, Navigation with an 8-inch display, Bluetooth, USB and much more. Add it all up, and you would think the Kia Cadenza is a top seller in the midsize luxury market.
As good a vehicle as the ’17 Kia Cadenza is, Kia is still struggling in the most important area of all, ie: Cadenza consumers or lack thereof. Kia’s number one goal right now is successful luxury brand marketing, something it has struggled with since entering the luxury car market.
However, slowly but surely, and especially with a lower entry price this year of $31,990, this may be the year when Kia Cadenza turns the corner.
Cadenza for 2017 pinpoints all that is good in a luxury car, and in side-by-side comparisons stacks up well or better against its competition. The competitors include Chevy Impala, Chrysler 300, Ford Taurus, Buick LaCrosse, Toyota Avalon, Lincoln MKZ, Infiniti Q50, Nissan Maxima and close cousin Hyundai Azera.
Cadenza’s new exterior features more sculptured and aerodynamic touches resulting in a sporty yet fashionable motif. Pleasing to the eye, Cadenza’s aforementioned new front end complements an enhanced rear taillight design and a nicely redone rear deck. Although Cadenza shares some mechanicals with cousin Kia Optima, Cadenza’s bigger, stronger and stiffer chassis is built for V6 power and offers a 1.9-inch longer wheelbase than the mid-size four cylinder powered Optima.
Cadenza’s wheelbase stretch versus Optima also allows for more rear seat legroom and generous cargo space, similar to what Toyota Camry and Toyota Avalon offer. Inside, the Cadenza fit and finish is noteworthy, as is the beautiful standard Nappa leather stitched seating our tester Limited SXL model features. The multi-color gauges are easy to read, and there’s a head up display that allows changing colors to your liking. Add some nice wood grain touches, an analog clock and numerous other high end features, and you have a Kia that offers passengers a cocoon of opulence.
All Credenza’s come with a powerful 3.3-liter V6 that develops 290 horses and 253 lb. ft. of torque. Power transfers through an electronically controlled eight-speed automatic transmission with Sportmatic paddle shifters. Acceleration is peppy, as zero to 60 arrives in just 6.5 seconds while EPA fuel economy is good at 20 city and 28 highway.
On the highway, Credenza is a fine handler, albeit not overly spectacular in any one area. The suspension features the proven front-strut and rear-multilink setup, delivering comfort on the highway and even on rougher roads. Assisting in the grip department are top rated Michelin 19-inch tires on beautiful multi-spoke alloy wheels.
Our tester came with no options thanks to the Limited SXL’s impressive standard feature list, which you pay for up front instead of as an option. Standard fare examples include panoramic sunroof, LED headlights, tilt and telescopic steering, heated and ventilated seating, power rear window sunshade, manual side window sunshade, smart cruise control with adaptive brain that keeps a safe distance from car in front, lane-departure warning and electronic parking brake.
A highlight of the Limited SXL is the standard safety features, where you’ll receive at no extra cost the ultimate in high-tech safety items like autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, smart blind spot detection with rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning (with on-off switch), rear park assist, and a surround view rear mirror. Of course, all the expected modern day airbags are standard, too, as are traction control, electronic stability control, hill start assist, and vehicle stability management. Your Kia dealer will explain all of the safety features.
If you choose the other side of the Cadenza coin, the base entry Credenza with exact same engine mechanicals is a great deal at just $31,900. Standard fare includes 18-inch tires on aluminum wheels, 8.0-inch UVO infotainment touch screen with navigation, safety backup rear camera, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, and all the standard safety features from traction control to four-wheel discs.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 112.4 inches, 5.4 inch ground clearance, 18.5 gallon fuel tank, 3,779 lb. curb weight, 37.2 ft. turn radius and 16 cu. ft. of cargo space.
In summary, the front drive Cadenza is indeed a luxury class vehicle. This new generation effort takes yet another small step forward in establishing the Korean automaker as a serious contender in this finicky class. And when you add in the 10-year, 100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty to the buying equation, you have a great buy right in front of you.
Give the new Kia Cadenza a test drive. You’ll be impressed.
Likes: New design, power, safety and luxury features, warranty.
Dislikes: Depreciation a concern, steering a bit light to the feel.
— Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and other GateHouse Media publications. He welcomes reader questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Test Drive: 2017 Kia Cadenza
Entry Price: $31,990