Could you be convinced to turn in your keys for this Kia?
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 — before 2009 — 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 grille — or more accurately, grilles — departs 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 doorpanel 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 carryover 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 poundfeet 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.
For an estimated starting price of $34,000 including destination charges, the base Cadenza Premium loads up with a reasonable amount of equipment, although not quite as much as you might think. Although leather-cover seats (poweradjustable in front), dualzone climate control, and a touch-screen display are included, you’ll need to spend at about $3,000 more for the mid-range Technology trim. It adds a navigation system, 14-way power driver’s seat, 12-speaker Harmon Kardon-brand sound system, 19-inch wheels (18s are standard), electronic parking brake and a full range of the latest active safety technology.
The top-end Limited takes the Cadenza’s content level over the top with premium quilted leather seats, sidewindow and power rearwindow sunshades, remoteopening power trunk lid and a head-up display that projects speed and turn-byturn navigation info onto the windshield.
Now heading into its fifth year of production, the Kia Cadenza brand has yet to seriously challenge similarly sized and priced sedans from Buick, Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan, Acura and others. It might still take some time before a brand that cut its teeth building small and inexpensive cars trade becomes appreciated for making devilishly decent uplevel big sedans. For buyers not unduly hooked on established luxury machines, the Cadenza will be a pleasant surprise.
What you should know: 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid
Type Four-door, frontwheel-drive full-size sedan
Engine (h.p.): 3.3-liter DOHC V-6 (290)
Transmission: speed automatic Eight-
Market position: Midand full-size luxury sedans are still selling well despite the growing popularity of tall wagons. In the sedan class, the Cadenza still has to work to be noticed.
Points: Attractive redesign makes a much bolder statement. • Interior improvements add more space and class. • Lack of an allwheel-drive option is a major drawback in this class and could hurt sales. • Only an average level of content in base models makes them less of a bargain. • Established luxury brands have strong followings and won’t yield ground easily.
Active safety: Blind-spot warning with cross-traffic alert (opt.); active cruise control (opt.); emergency braking (opt.); lane-departure warning (opt.)
MPG (city/highway) 20/88; Base price (incl. destination) $34,000 (est.) By comparison: Buick LaCrosse Base price: $33,000 All-new 2017 model looks stunning and closely matches up with the Cadenza. Chrysler 300 Base price: $33,400 Classic styling and abundant power choices top the list of positives for this car. Toyota Avalon Base price: $34,100 A steady, if unexciting performer that touts reliability as its main asset.