2017 Kia Cadenza

2017 Kia Cadenza Review

The new 2017 Kia Cadenza improves upon its predecessor with better cabin materials and a nicer ride.
3.5 / 5
Edmunds overall rating
by Cameron Rogers
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

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 2017

The Kia Cadenza has been fully redesigned for 2017.

We recommend

Kia likes to pitch the Cadenza as an affordable alternative to the typical luxury sedan, and we'd spec it accordingly. Skip the base model and go with the midlevel Technology trim. It includes features from the base Premium with its Luxury and Panoramic Sunroof options, in addition to ventilated seats, extra lumbar support for front seat occupants and LED exterior lighting. The Luxury trim lives up to its name (we can't think of a non-luxury competitor with quilted leather upholstery, for example), but it's considerably more expensive than the Technology trim and doesn't add much.

Trim levels & features

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.

Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions, although trim levels share many aspects.The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the (3.3L V6; 8-speed automatic).

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall3.5 / 5


3.5 / 5

Acceleration2.5 / 5
Braking5.0 / 5
Steering3.0 / 5
Handling3.0 / 5
Drivability3.5 / 5


4.0 / 5

Seat comfort3.5 / 5
Ride comfort3.0 / 5
Noise & vibration4.0 / 5
Climate control5.0 / 5


4.0 / 5

Ease of use4.0 / 5
Getting in/getting out5.0 / 5
Driving position4.0 / 5
Roominess3.0 / 5
Visibility5.0 / 5
Quality4.5 / 5


3.5 / 5

Small-item storage4.0 / 5
Cargo space2.5 / 5


3.5 / 5

Audio & navigation4.5 / 5
Smartphone integration3.5 / 5
Driver aids3.0 / 5
Voice control3.0 / 5


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.


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 brake pedal is easy to engage, with very mild braking pressure occurring as soon as you put your foot down. It's also easy to modulate, with predictable increasing effort. In Edmunds testing, a Cadenza Limited came to a stop from 60 mph in 115 feet, shorter than average for a large sedan.


Steering effort is light in the normal Comfort driving mode, firming up slightly when Sport is selected. The steering wheel requires a fair amount of rotation to navigate in turns, and back-to-back transitions get tiring quickly. Steering feel is mostly numb.


Large sedans optimize comfort over athletic ability, and the Cadenza is no exception. A 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. Mid-corner bumps don't affect the Cadenza at all.


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.


The Cadenza is a comfort-focused sedan, and it performs its primary function well. We like the hushed cabin at high speeds and the car's effective climate controls. The ride is less refined than in some rivals, and the front seats aren't great for road trips, however.

Seat comfort3.5

The seats are initially comfortable, with plenty of cushion and cushy leather. Even without the ventilation function, the seats feel breathable. They are best suited for short trips because thigh support isn't great; long-distance driving required multiple adjustments to alleviate driver fatigue.

Ride comfort3.0

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 than in the previous Cadenza.

Noise & vibration4.0

The cabin is quiet enough that you never need to raise your voice to talk. Wind and tire noise is noticeable but not overpowering, and you will hear the engine's unimpressive groan at low speeds. Vibration at idle is nonexistent to the point that you might think there's an engine start-stop system.

Climate control5.0

Heated front seats are standard on all Cadenzas, with the midtier Technology trim adding ventilated fronts and a heated steering wheel. Heated rears come only on the Limited. All seats get nice and hot, and the cooling effect is greater than in many rivals. Rear air vents keep passengers happy.


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.

Ease of use4.0

All buttons and knobs on the center stack are within arm's reach of the driver and front passenger. The touchscreen is a little far away, however. Either front occupant will have to lean forward slightly to press the virtual buttons accurately.

Getting in/getting out5.0

Wide doors, a tall door opening, narrow side sills and unobtrusive seat bolsters make it easy to get into and out of the front seats. A gently sloping roofline makes for similarly easy entry and egress for the back row.

Driving position4.0

The driver seat offers a number of adjustments, including four-way lumbar and an extendable thigh bolster. The power steering wheel telescopes out pretty far, making it easy for tall drivers to find a comfortable position. It's also easy to see over the low hood.


The Cadenza's large interior provides ample room all around for most occupants. Legroom is generous, allowing 6-foot adults to sit behind each other without knees hitting the seatback. Only very tall passengers in a sunroof-equipped Cadenza will brush up against the headliner.


Tall, wide front windows promote excellent forward and side visibility. The rear roof pillars are thick, but the associated small windows help reduce the blind spots. The rear window is generously sized, so it's easy to see out the back.


The Cadenza Limited's materials quality seems appropriate given its price tag. Quilted seat bolsters are an unexpected touch in this class, and thoughtful touches such as a padded driver knee rest are appreciated. Glossy piano black and wood trim do not reflect glaring sunlight.


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.

Small-item storage4.0

Front seat occupants get a cubby beneath the center stack and a bin under the armrest to store small items. There's not much in the rear, aside from the seatback map pockets. All doors have a cutout with room for a very small water bottle. Four normally sized cupholders are split between front and rear.

Cargo space2.5

The cargo load floor is large and mostly flat, aside from a slight hump in the middle to provide room for the spare tire jack underneath. Cargo area measures 16 cubic feet, average for the segment but less than in the Impala and Taurus. There is a ski pass-through, but the rear seats don't fold.

Child safety seat accommodation4.5

Four lower LATCH anchors are hidden beneath plastic covers on the outboard seats that fold down under pressure but cannot be removed. Three upper anchors are located on the rear shelf and are also concealed under covers. All are easy to access.


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.

Audio & navigation4.5

The 12-speaker Harman Kardon system sounds awesome, with a wide volume range and a surround-sound effect that makes instruments and voices sound closer to the listener. We wish more than just treble, bass and mid were adjustable. Slow responses make the nav system a bit difficult to operate.

Smartphone integration3.5

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay come on every Cadenza, while the Technology and Limited trims add a wireless phone charging pad under the center stack. Apple CarPlay is unusually difficult to find in the touchscreen menus. There's one USB port in front and another behind the center console.

Driver aids3.0

Adaptive cruise control keeps speed well, exceeding the limit set by just 1 mph on a steep downhill grade. Unfortunately, it's slow to reapply acceleration if the car in front of you has turned or changed lanes. Lane departure warning is too sensitive, triggering an alarm with little provocation.

Voice control3.0

Kia's voice recognition software could use some work, as the navigation system is easily confused by numbered streets (e.g., "5th Street") and north/south/east/west descriptors. Phone book recognition is better. Siri Eyes Free is available if an iPhone is connected.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.