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.
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.
noise & vibration
ease of use
getting in/getting out
child safety seat accomodation
audio & navigation
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.