It takes a bit of nerve to draw a bead on the well-established leaders in the large sedan market, but the 2017 Kia Cadenza stakes its claim with sophisticated design, a spacious and refined cabin and a host of the latest technology and safety features. Shoppers looking for a near-luxury four-door that brings everything but a high price tag would do well to add the Cadenza to their test-drive list. They may be surprised by the Kia's upscale interior appointments, long list of standard equipment and quiet, comfort-tuned ride.
The all-new 2017 Kia Cadenza distinguishes itself from its predecessor with a sleeker, more elegant design, cleaner lines and rakish fender flares, while still retaining some characteristic Kia hallmarks, like the unique "tiger nose" grille. There's also a smoother ride, improved handling and a softer, more luxurious interior.
The only available powerplant is a 3.3-liter V6 — carried over from the previous generation — that produces 290 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque and drives the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. Although unremarkable in the class, it gets the job done in a smooth, quiet manner. Fuel economy is EPA-rated at 23 mpg combined (20 city/28 highway).
On the road, the Cadenza admirably fulfills its mission of providing a comfortable, relaxed ride. The suspension system, upgraded from the outgoing model, is designed to absorb bumps with aplomb, not getting upset in the corners but, at the same time, having no sporting pretensions. That said, handling is better than most drivers will expect, with good straight-line stability and a decent amount of feedback through turns. An available drive-mode selector, with settings that include Comfort and Sport, allows drivers to fine-tune responsiveness to some degree.
Inside is where the 2017 Cadenza really stands out. Front-seat occupants enjoy a generous amount of head-, shoulder and legroom, while those in back luxuriate in the class-leading rear compartment's expanses. And, as a bonus, the Cadenza boasts one of the largest trunks in its segment. Materials and design are appropriately upscale, with piano black and wood trim and the choice of four available decor themes. Standard technology includes a 7-inch touchscreen display, rearview camera and Bluetooth connectivity, and many more such features are available as options.
The base Premium trim level comes equipped with such appointments as leather upholstery, multi-zone climate control and heated seats. The Technology level adds a number of convenience features, and the top-of-the-line Limited trim includes more of those, plus several additional luxury touches. Whatever your preference, let Edmunds help you find the 2017 Kia Cadenza that best meets your needs.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.