2017 Kia Cadenza: A Full-Size Contender

By Frank A. Aukofer, October 15th, 2016

In the old days big sedans ruled the road. If you were rich you drove a Fleetwood Cadillac. Upper middle class? Your car was a Buick Roadmaster.

Manufacturer photo: The all-new 2017 Kia Cadenza boasts precisely crafted cabin, cutting edge technology for connectivity and driver assistance, a stronger body structure, and powertrain enhancements for a more premium experience behind the wheel
Manufacturer photo: The all-new 2017 Kia Cadenza boasts precisely crafted cabin, cutting edge technology for connectivity and driver assistance, a stronger body structure, and powertrain enhancements for a more premium experience behind the wheel

Back then, customers seeking a family vehicle bought a big Ford, Chevrolet or Plymouth sedan -- or perhaps the station wagon version. Now crossover sport utility vehicles have taken over. But manufacturers have not forsaken large cars. The 2017 Kia Cadenza fits the modern definition of a full-size car. The Cadenza and others like it today offer power, fuel economy, comfort and safety that could only be imagined decades ago.

Though the description has changed, large cars still offer amenities that attract a loyal cadre of buyers. They like the heft, feel, passenger and trunk space, as well as the perceived safety of size, though smaller cars now do as well in government and private crash tests as their bigger brethren.

Modern full-size cars come with front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, with state-of-the art safety equipment, handling, power and fuel economy. The new 2017 Kia Cadenza competes against other front-drivers like the best-selling Chevrolet Impala, Toyota Avalon, Buick LaCrosse, Ford Taurus and Hyundai Azera.

To qualify as full-size under the U.S. government's standards, a car must have more than 120 cubic feet of interior room. That includes passenger and trunk space. The new Cadenza checks in with a total of almost 124 cubic feet.

Manufacturer photo: The all-new 2017 Kia Cadenza boasts precisely crafted cabin, cutting edge technology for connectivity and driver assistance, a stronger body structure, and powertrain enhancements for a more premium experience behind the wheel

That gives it ample comfort for five passengers, especially in the front bucket seats and outboard back seats. Even the fifth passenger in back is not cramped, though her or she must tolerate a small floor hump and a lumpy seat cushion.

According to Kia, while the Cadenza has the same overall length as the outgoing model, it's slightly wider and lower in height. The wheelbase has been stretched slightly, contributing to nearly a half-inch of increased legroom for rear passengers. And, the interior cockpit is designed to provide a more harmonious human-machine interface with ergonomically intelligent design, intuitive controls, and a suite of enhanced convenience features.

The new 2017 Cadenza comes in three trim levels: Premium, which starts at around $32,890; Technology, $39,890, and the tested Limited, $44,890.

Under the hood lurks a 3.3-liter V-6 engine with direct gasoline injection that delivers 290 horsepower and 253 lb-ft of torque. Power goes to the front wheels through a Kia developed eight-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode controlled by paddles on the steering wheel.

The combination gives the Cadenza more than ample acceleration and freeway passing power. Plentiful insulation delivers silent running. There's a hefty feel to the steering. Though not as crisp as with a midsize sport sedan, handling is secure and competent.

Manufacturer photo: The all-new 2017 Kia Cadenza boasts precisely crafted cabin, cutting edge technology for connectivity and driver assistance, a stronger body structure, and powertrain enhancements for a more premium experience behind the wheel

The 2017 Kia Cadenza Limited has some luxury credentials, fully equipped with such state-of-the-art equipment as lane departure warning and assist, rear traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, surround view monitor with backup camera, blind spot warning, head up display and rear parking assist.

Comfort and convenience items include Nappa leather upholstery, dual zone automatic climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, navigation and infotainment systems with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless smartphone charger, panoramic sunroof with power sunshade, rear and side window sunshades, and memory driver's seat, outside mirrors and steering wheel.

Given the chance, your father would dump his old Oldsmobile in a heartbeat for the new Cadenza.

Specifications

Base price $32,890 (as tested: $44,890)
Curb weight 3,770 lbs.
Displacement 3.3-liter
Engine type 24-valve V-6 w/GDI
Epa mileage rating 20 mpg city, 28 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 18.5 gal.
Horsepower (net) 290 at 6400 rpm
Overall length 195.7 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 253 at 5200 rpm
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Vehicle type 5-passenger full-size FWD sedan
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