2017 Kia Cadenza LimitedPosted on December 6th, 2016
Premium full-size sport sedan
By Nina Russin
The 2017 Kia Cadenza raised eyebrows when it beat out several luxury competitors to win this year’s Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year Luxury On-Road award. Although Kia continues its value-based marketing strategy, new models such as the Cadenza are giving competitors a run for the money, with award-winning styling and performance.
The first-generation Cadenza looked and felt very much like a stretch version of the smaller Optima sedan. The newest model is very much its own animal, with unique styling and performance.
Base price for the Limited is $44,390 excluding the $900 destination charge. Standard convenience features include keyless entry and start, Nappa leather interior with memory driver’s seat settings, dual-zone climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, UVO infotainment, satellite radio, navigation and a power tilt and telescoping steering wheel.
Test drive in Southern Arizona
This past week I drove the Cadenza through Phoenix Arizona’s east valley as well as sections of the Gila River Indian community skirting the San Tan mountains to the southeast.
Power for the Cadenza comes from Kia’s 3.3-liter direct injection engine rated at 290-horsepower with an eight-speed automatic transmission. It’s a potent combination, with excellent acceleration off the line and in the 20-50 mile-per-hour range drivers use merging into high-speed traffic. Despite its high compression ratio, the block is engineered to run on 87 octane gasoline.
The eight-speed automatic transmission is a willing mate, progressing smoothly through the gears with no hunting or shift shock under normal driving conditions.
While the first-generation Cadenza felt like a big, heavy car, the newest sedan does not. The aluminum engine minimizes weight gain on the front end, improving the front-wheel drive chassis’ front-to-rear weight balance.
A four-wheel independent suspension consisting of MacPherson struts up front and multi-link rear axle absorbs bumps in the road without being overly soft. Feedback from the electric power steering system is ample at low speeds for good maneuverability. On-center response is also quite good: a rarity with this technology.
Nineteen-inch rims give the Cadenza a fat footprint for better handling at speed, while four-wheel disc brakes stop the sedan in firm, linear fashion.
The upscale Cadenza comes standard with a host of active safety features including blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and rear parking assist with a surround-view monitor. The surround-view monitor makes it easy to spot obstacles around the vehicle’s perimeter: a boon for drivers needing to parallel park.
Blind spot monitoring illuminates LED signals in the side mirrors when vehicles in adjacent lanes pass through the driver’s blind spots. The system does have a quirk. When a driver is stopped at a light in an intersection with two left turn lanes, the system will chime if the driver turns on his turn signal, i.e. it is overly sensitive.
Autonomous emergency braking automatically applies the brakes if the driver fails to recognize a stopped vehicle ahead. It’s good protection against driver distraction during long periods in congested traffic.
Lane departure warning gives the driver a visual signal if he drifts towards the edge of a lane without signaling. The active safety features make the Cadenza an easy car for urban commuters to live with, taking some of the stress out of the daily drive.
Engineers did an excellent job of minimizing noise intrusion to the interior so passengers can easily converse on the highway or enjoy the premium audio system.
The Cadenza’s interior is sleek and spacious in keeping with the car’s premium positioning. I found the power driver’s seat easy to adjust for a clear forward view with plenty of lower lumbar support for long road trips.
Graphics on the gauge cluster and center stack screen are bright and easy to read in bright sunlight and after dark. A split screen image on the center stack enables the driver to monitor navigation directions and audio selections at the same time.
The design team paid careful attention to rear seat comfort, adding a set of vents behind the center console to circulate air throughout the rear of the cabin, with plenty of hip and legroom in the outboard seats for average adults. There is a floor tunnel, but the center seat works fine for shorter trips around town.
A spacious trunk holds multiple pieces of luggage, small camping equipment and the weekly groceries. Cyclists will be better served with one of Kia’s crossover vehicles offering a taller and more spacious cargo bay.
The Kia Cadenza comes with seven airbags, traction control, stability control, hill start assist and tire pressure monitoring.
The all-new Cadenza is rolling into Kia dealerships nationwide.
Like: An elegant looking full-size sedan with excellent power and performance.
Dislike: Blind spot monitoring system sends false alerts when the driver signals to turn left at an intersection with two adjacent left turn lanes.
Model: Cadenza Limited
Base price: $44,390
As tested: $45,290
Horsepower: 290 Hp @ 6400 rpm
Torque: 253 lbs.-ft. @ 5200 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 20/29 mpg city/highway