Slightly larger than the car it replaces (an extra half-inch of legroom is most notable), the new Cadenza is more likely to be recognized for its exterior styling, which replaces a handsome, if anonymous sedan with one with far more visual jewelry.
There are aggressively raked headlights, distinctive LED taillights in the rear, ample chrome and alloy trim, and both of the two available grilles boast a distinctive-for-Kia concave surface within the brand's telltale "tiger nose"-shaped grille. The one found on higher trims features vertical chrome slats reminiscent of a Maserati.
Kia says the Cadenza has considerably reduced noise, vibration and harshness levels thanks to improved aerodynamics and increased acoustic absorbing materials.
To improve ride quality, the Cadenza uses what Kia calls Amplitude Selective Damping shock absorbers to provide a smoother ride over poor road surfaces and also improve handling and stability. This could ultimately be one of the new Cadenza's greatest improvements, as the outgoing car's suspension, though comfortable, lacked a degree of sophistication and control found in rivals. Increased structural stiffness, a lighter chassis and a more responsive steering system should also dynamically improve the 2017 Cadenza.
Inside, Kia has upped the level of luxury with more soft-touch materials and the availability of handsome quilted Napa leather seating (available in four colors including a new dark brown shade). The driver seat is now mounted lower and offers more adjustability along with more even heat distribution from the standard seat heaters.
On the tech front, every Cadenza now comes standard with Apply CarPlay and Android Auto, while a head-up display makes its first appearance. The Cadenza is also the first Kia sold in the United States to receive the brand's new "Drive Wise" collection of accident avoidance technologies. It includes lane-departure, forward-collision and blind-spot warning systems, automatic intervention for the latter two systems, and an adaptive cruise control system with stop-and-go functionality. None of this is new or innovative for the industry, but it puts the Cadenza right in the heart of the full-size sedan market.
There are fewer changes under the hood, as this Cadenza still uses a 3.3-liter V6 as its standard engine. A new eight-speed automatic transmission should help the engine deliver improved fuel economy and performance. The Cadenza remains front-wheel drive only.
Look for the 2017 Kia Cadenza to arrive in dealerships in late 2016, with pricing to be announced in the fall.
Edmunds says: More expressive styling, additional interior features and a near luxury cabin should make this Cadenza a serious competitor in the full-size sedan segment.