The Car Connection Kia Cadenza Overview
Kia has pushed its Cadenza full-size four-door sedan slightly upmarket with a 2017 redesign that addresses some of the previous model's shortcomings with a new, more cohesive style and a vastly improved interior.
The Cadenza isn't an especially engaging sedan, but that's par for this segment, where most buyers place an emphasis on interior comfort and space—and in those categories, the Cadenza is a home run.
Slotting in below the Kia K900, the Cadenza is meant to pull the brand upmarket to appeal to near-luxury buyers. The Cadenza's competitors include cars like the Buick LaCrosse, Nissan Altima, and Toyota Avalon.
U.S. buyers have had access to the large, front-drive family sedan since the 2014 model year. The Cadenza has been available in its South Korean home market (where it is known as the K7) and others since 2010.
MORE: Read our 2017 Kia Cadenza review
Although the Cadenza is closely related to the Hyundai Azera, it has entirely different exterior styling and interior appointments, and the suspension calibration is slightly sportier. The Cadenza is one of the best-looking Kia models yet; it manages to carry the proportions of a rear-drive sport sedan even though its drive wheels are up front. It makes the most of the trim, taut, and clean lines of the newest Kia design language ushered in under Peter Schreyer. The Cadenza looks European-influenced, but not derivative in any way up close.
At launch, Cadenzas were powered by a 293-horsepower, 3.3-liter V-6; a 6-speed automatic transmission sends the power to the big car's front wheels. The engine checked in with 255 pound-feet of torque, but the peak doesn't occur until high up in the rev range, making the engine feel weaker than its ratings would suggest. The transmission made the best of this, however, and also included a manual-shift gate for those who want to make shift decisions for themselves. While it looks sporty, the Cadenza has always been tuned more for comfort than anything else.
The Cadenza saw several updates for 2015. Kia added an adaptable steering system, which offers three levels of steering weight from which the driver can select. All Cadenza trim levels gained an eight-way adjustable power front passenger seat, while the Technology Package added rear cross-traffic warning. Limited models added a standard surround-view camera system as well as a new analog clock.
For the 2016 model year, the Cadenza gained a new base model, while navigation became standard across the lineup. Blind-spot monitors were added to the Luxury package.
A full redesign for 2017 brings a more dynamic look inside and out, a stiffer structure, and an 8-speed automatic transmission that improves both performance and fuel economy. Its 3.3-liter V-6 is lightly updated but actually sees power drop to 290 horsepower and 253 pound feet of torque, but that's more than made up for by a slightly lower curb weight and the 8-speed automatic.
Kia expanded availability of automatic emergency braking on the updated Cadenza, making it standard on the Technology and SXL trim levels (although it's not available on the Premium).