- Well-equipped for the price, especially in the base Premium trim
- Vast amount of legroom allows all passengers to stretch out
- Generous warranty coverage
- Lots of available advanced safety features
- Headroom is a bit tight for tall occupants (especially with sunroof)
- The ride not as comfortable and composed as in segment leaders
- Trunk is smaller than rivals, and rear seats don't fold down
- From acceleration to handling, the Cadenza isn't much fun to drive
It wasn't that long ago that the full-size sedan was seen as the paragon of luxury in America. But tastes change, and crossover SUVs have slowly supplanted large sedans as the vehicle of choice for families and drivers who prefer a tall seating position. If you don't need to ride up high or require the vertical cargo space, a sedan is still a good choice. For the price of a modestly equipped midsize crossover, you could get a car such as the 2017 Kia Cadenza, replete with safety and technology features, along with exceptional rear seat room and a lust-worthy cabin.
The Cadenza has been redesigned for 2017, just three years after its debut. Although the first-generation car was just fine, we thought its ride wasn't as comfortable as others in the class and interior materials quality wasn't up to snuff in the pricier trims. The new model's ride is much better sorted, with less harshness from road imperfections. The cabin looks premium and may actually dissuade buyers looking to get into a new Lexus or Lincoln. Some issues remain, such as uninspiring handling and tight headroom for tall occupants. But provided you aren't a professional basketball player living in the Hollywood Hills, you'll probably like it just fine.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2017The Kia Cadenza has been fully redesigned for 2017.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2017 Kia Cadenza is a large, full-size sedan that offers an abundance of room for all its occupants. Even in its base Premium form, the Cadenza is well-equipped for what we think is a very reasonable price. Its two available features packages are incorporated into the Technology package (along with a few other desirable additions), while the top-trim Limited just might fool your passengers into thinking they're riding in a Lexus. There's one powertrain available: a 3.3-liter V6 (290 horsepower, 253 pound-feet) matched to an eight-speed automatic with front-wheel drive.
The base Premium trim is loaded with features, including 18-inch wheels, foglights, heated mirrors, hands-free trunk opening, keyless entry and ignition, a rearview camera, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, eight-way power-adjustable and heated front seats (with driver two-way lumbar adjustment), a 7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, Bluetooth, and an eight-speaker audio system with HD and satellite radio and two USB ports.
The Premium is available with the Luxury package, which adds power-folding mirrors, an 8-inch touchscreen with navigation and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system. Additional safety features include rear cross-traffic alert, rear parking sensors and advanced blind-spot monitoring.
The Panoramic Sunroof package (requires Luxury package) adds LED interior lighting and, you guessed it, a panoramic sunroof.
The Technology is one level up, adding the contents of both above packages, along with 19-inch wheels, LED headlights and foglights, automatic wipers, a power-adjustable and heated steering wheel with paddle shifters, a 10-way driver seat (with four-way lumbar adjustment), two-way lumbar adjustment for the front passenger, ventilated front seats, driver-seat memory settings and wireless phone charging.
You can't go any higher than the Limited trim, which equips the Cadenza with power trunk opening and closing, a head-up display, side rear sunshades, a power rear sunshade, upgraded leather upholstery and heated rear seats.
The cabin of the Cadenza can only be described as expansive. There's plenty of room for front and rear seat passengers. Even when the Easy Entry feature scoots the seat back, the driver won't hit the knees of the occupant behind. Materials quality is particularly impressive.
The Cadenza offers the latest tech features, including adaptive cruise control, a 360-degree parking camera and Apple CarPlay. Execution is lacking, mostly due to the infotainment system's menu structure and the wonky logic of driver aids. Navigation doesn't utilize predictive city and street names.
You'll find many places to store small items, including a deep glove compartment and a pocket in each door. The trunk is large overall compared to those of most sedans, though it is slightly smaller than some in its class. The rear seat doesn't fold to expand the cargo area.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
Acceleration from a stop is gradual in every driver mode but Sport. Passing maneuvers require a heavy foot because the transmission is reluctant to downshift and takes a moment even at full throttle. We recorded a 0-to-60 mph sprint time of 6.8 seconds, a few ticks slower than average for the class.
The transmission is smart enough to hold a low gear up steep grades, even in the gas-friendly Eco mode. In the normal Comfort setting, the Cadenza gets into high gears quickly. There's a noticeable lag when leaving from a stop, where the engine gets louder but you don't move until a moment later.
Under the Cadenza's hood is a familiar 3.3-liter V6 engine, carried over from the previous generation but slightly less powerful. The new eight-speed transmission is fuel economy-focused and isn't as refined as some rivals. Like most in the segment, the Cadenza is not particularly fun to drive.
The comfort-tuned suspension glides over most rough road surfaces, but dips in the asphalt cause the body to lean and rock to the side, more so than in other large sedans. Impacts are better controlled and much less noticeable, though, than in the previous Cadenza.
Large sedans optimize comfort over athletic ability, and the Cadenza is no exception. The healthy amount of body lean will have you resting on the seat's leg and side bolsters anytime you drive through a corner with some enthusiasm. But mid-corner bumps don't affect the Cadenza at all.