Since Kia began selling cars in the U.S. back in 1994, the Korean manufacturer has been on a march for excellence. It's paid off with skyrocketing sales, a number of award-winning models in its stables, including placing top in the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Initial Quality Study. It's the first time in 27 years that a non-luxury brand has led the industry in the IQS.
Kia says it is on the "Road to Reinvention" and the 2017 Cadenza shows off the automaker's art form with high style and cutting-edge technology. Kia's large front-wheel-drive sedan gets a second-generation remake on an all-new platform that's stronger, lighter, and stiffer; it promises better driving dynamics and more comfort than the model it replaces.
The 2017 Cadenza comes in three trims: Premium, Technology, and Limited, starting at $32,000 ($1,000 less than the previous generation model). Standard niceties include Smart Key entry with push-button ignition, leather seats (heated in front), leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, illuminated glovebox and trunk, and 18- or 19-inch alloy wheels (depending on trim).
Under the hood, Cadenza is powered by a retuned version of the existing 290-horsepower, 3.3-liter V-6 engine. It's mated to Kia's first front-wheel-drive-based, eight-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
The new transmission is lighter than the outgoing six-speed transmission, and helps improve fuel economy to a city/highway/combined fuel economy of 20/28/23 miles per gallon, up about 1 mpg over last year. Four user-selectable drive modes -- Comfort, Eco, Sport, and Smart -- adjust the feel of the steering, transmission, suspension, and the response of its throttle, to give it slightly different personalities to fit the driver's preference.
Up front, the hexagonal grille has been smoothed, and reshaped headlight housings feature HID lighting and new Z-shaped LED signature lighting. Two different grilles are available: Lower trim models offer a "Diamond Butterfly" front that features the familiar three-dimensional mesh grille, with a more concave shape. Higher trim models wear the "Intaglio" grille, featuring vertically oriented, faceted blades.
The most noticeable changes are the longer roof, which is extended by 2 inches for more of a fastback profile and additional chrome exterior accents. In back are reshaped LED taillights and a redesigned trunk lid; the license plate moves from the trunk lid to the rear bumper for a cleaner look, and new hexagonal exhaust bumper inserts replace the outgoing car's oval tips.
The five-passenger interior is more spacious and thoughtfully redesigned with higher-quality soft-touch materials and hand-stitched craftsmanship. Noise and vibration levels are substantially reduced: additional acoustic absorbing laminate in the front windows and windshield and increased insulation around the A-pillars reduce wind noise, while a full floorpan undercover quells road noise, resulting in a "library-quiet" cabin. Of note are a new dashboard with revised center stack, infotainment and climate controls, and HVAC vents.
Fancy touches include available Nappa leather seating with quilted seat bolsters and diamond accent stitching, as well as a new head-up display that shows key driver information such as speed and turn-by-turn navigation directions on the windshield directly in the driver's line-of-sight, wireless smartphone chargers, and an automatic trunk opener that conveniently opens the trunk lid if the sensor detects the key fob nearby for more than 3 seconds.
Reengineered seat heaters more evenly distribute warmth, and now utilize a smart control system that automatically lowers the heat after a set period of time. Kia's Bluetooth-enabled UVO eServices Infotainment System with 7-inch touchscreen display now offers Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration.
We drove the 2017 Cadenza through the Virginia countryside on a collection of small highways, byways, and two-lanes. We were impressed by its driving dynamics and driver assistance features that include an updated Surround View monitor with improved software and resolution that gives a clearer birds-eye view of the area around the vehicle, with new reverse guidelines that bring confidence when backing into tight spaces.
Additional cutting-edge technology includes advanced smart cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking, and lane departure warning; another Kia first is the "Smart" blind spot detection system that senses unintentional drifting toward an adjacent vehicle and automatically brakes the opposite side front wheel to help maintain the vehicle's intended course. Cadenza competes against such rivals as the Buick LaCrosse, Toyota Avalon, and Hyundai Azera.
Copyright © 2017 Motor Matters
|Base price||$31,990 (as tested: $32,890)|
|Curb weight||3,633 lbs.|
|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|
|Vehicle type||5-passenger FWD full-size sedan|
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