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2017 Kia Cadenza

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2017 Kia Cadenza Expert Review

By Keith Buglewicz

Full-size sedans haven't been the go-to family car for a couple generations now, but there's still a place in the market for these big 4-doors. The 2nd-generation 2017 Kia Cadenza offers up a compelling blend of features, style and driving sophistication that is sure to attract buyers new and old, not just to the Kia brand, but possibly to the big-sedan market in general. Why? Because this car is just done right. It looks great, with taut lines and a comfortable and upscale interior. It drives great, with a powerful V6 and new 8-speed automatic transmission. And while it's priced a little higher than competitors like the Chevrolet Impala, Toyota Avalon, Ford Taurus and even the Dodge Charger, it might be worth the stretch.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you want a nice-driving vehicle with a tremendous back seat, but don't want to drive yet another SUV, then the 2017 Kia Cadenza is worth a look. Whether you're already a fan of Kia vehicles or not, this big 4-door is sure to appeal to your upscale tastes.

You May Not Like This Car If...

There's no all-wheel-drive model like with the Dodge Charger and Ford Taurus. Additionally, there's no hybrid version, as you can get with the Toyota Avalon. The Cadenza skews toward luxury and comfort; if you want a sporty sedan, you might want to check out a V8-powered Charger R/T.

How It Ranks

#24

out of 31

Fuel Economy

#8

out of 32

Horsepower
View all rankings
2017 Kia Cadenza Low/wide front photo What's New for 2017

The 2017 Kia Cadenza is all-new, representing the second generation of Kia's full-size front-wheel-drive sedan. Available with a V6 engine, the Cadenza is bigger than the midsize Optima, but smaller than the luxury-class K900, and also splits the difference between the two on price.

Driving the Cadenza
2017 Kia Cadenza Front angle view photo
Driving Impressions

The 2017 Cadenza hits the mark when it comes to the kind of comfort, quiet and refinement you expect from a premium full-size sedan. Kia's tried-and-true 3.3-liter V6 puts out...

... 290 horsepower in the Cadenza, and the new Kia-designed 8-speed automatic extracts brisk acceleration with the pedal to the metal, and relaxed cruising when you're just feathering it at highway speeds. That relaxation extends to the suspension, which uses special shock absorbers to smooth out harsh bumps without making the ride too soft. The Cadenza sailed gracefully over the pavement, but it was also suitably flat and controlled when the road narrowed and bent. The electrically assisted steering provided good weighting in corners -- although not much feedback -- and very good on-center feel on the highway. While no sports sedan, the Cadenza's drive mode select does offer a Sport mode, and there are shift paddles on the steering wheel.

ENORMOUS BACK SEAT
Big back seats are one of the reasons people buy full-size sedans, but even with that in mind, the 2017 Cadenza has a BIG back seat. Even with two tall people in front, there was plenty of space for two tall passengers in the rear as well.

HARMAN/KARDON AUDIO
You don't need to be an audiophile to appreciate the new Cadenza's harman/kardon audio system with Clari-Fi technology. A working set of ears will do just fine as you hear the crisp highs, strong lows and satisfying midrange as this 12-speaker system makes the most of your tunes.

2017 Kia Cadenza Details
2017 Kia Cadenza Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo Interior

The 2017 Kia Cadenza interior resembles the smaller Kia Optima, sharing the same 2-level layout that puts visual stuff like gauges and the infotainment screen situated above the actual knobs and buttons used to operate everything. The infotainment system includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the harman/kardon system sounds excellent. Front-seat passengers get very comfortable multi-adjustable seats, and the controls are all easy to use and find. But it's the rear seat that's a real surprise. It's cavernous, with plenty of legroom, tons of headroom, and the high roofline makes it easy to get in and out.

Exterior
2017 Kia Cadenza photo

The new Kia Cadenza looks good and sharply drawn, in stark contrast to the old car, which tended to look pudgy. Cool details include a new take on the Kia "tiger-nose" grille, which on the new Cadenza uses a concave insert in either the familiar diamond pattern or in a waterfall design. Z-shaped LED accent lights in the front and rear connect to each other through the crease on the shoulder line. But it's a cohesive whole, not just an assembly of nice-looking elements, neatly splitting the difference between the even edgier Optima and the soft luxury of the Kia K900.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The 2017 Cadenza Premium model anchors the bottom of the lineup, and comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, LED accent lights, and the trunk automatically pops open if you stand near it for a few seconds. There's leather on the seats and on the tilt-and-telescope steering wheel. The driver's seat power-adjusts 10 ways, the power passenger's seat adjusts eight ways, and both are heated. Also standard are dual-zone climate control, push-button ignition, a 7-inch touch-screen display that includes a rearview camera, USB inputs, Bluetooth, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Safety gear includes nine airbags, hill-start assist, and that rearview camera.

Optional Equipment

The Technology model adds power-folding mirrors with puddle lights, and the harman/kardon audio system with an 8-inch touch screen and navigation; all that's available as upgrades to the Premium model, too. However, Technology models also get 19-inch wheels, LED headlights and fog lights, a heated steering wheel, shifter paddles on the steering wheel, automatic windshield wipers, and a wireless smartphone-charging system. Step up to the Limited model if you want nicer Nappa quilted leather on the seats, a 14-way-adjustable driver's seat with memory, and a power-operated trunk.

Under the Hood
2017 Kia Cadenza Engine photo

One engine is available for the 2017 Cadenza: Kia's 3.3-liter V6, putting out 290 horsepower and 253 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels. We're familiar with this engine, as it's the standard-issue V6 for Kia models for some time now. What's really new is the 8-speed automatic transmission. It's an all-new design by Kia itself, and it offers up smooth shifts and brisk acceleration. The paddle shifters worked fine, but we're guessing most people will let the transmission do its own shifting. The Cadenza drinks regular fuel at the rate of about 28 mpg on the highway. Some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy numbers, despite being relatively unchanged from last year. This is due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions.

3.3-liter V6
290 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
253 lb-ft of torque @ 5,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28 mpg

Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.

Prices for the 2017 Kia Cadenza haven't been fully finalized, but ballpark figures tell us base Cadenza Premium model should have a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price less than $33,000. The Technology model will come in a little south of $39,000, while the Nappa-leather-clad Limited should come in around the $44,000 mark. That's actually on the high side of the segment, with base prices for the Impala, Taurus and Charger all undercutting the big Kia, but the 2017 Cadenza offers more standard equipment. On the high end, the Kia is still higher than its competitors, but again, the Cadenza makes a more luxurious play with the quilted leather and other high-end features. Be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price calculator to see what others in your area paid for their Cadenza, and note that this vehicle is too new for a proper resale-value calculation.

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