2017 Kia Cadenza Limited Review

One of the best values out there


Wade Thiel, Staff Writer



Positives: Very luxurious for the money, comfortable and spacious seats, excellent infotainment system, smooth ride.
Negatives: Kia badge isn't prestigious, throttle response could be better, brakes could be stronger.
Bottom Line: The Kia Cadenza is a very good car for the price. We liked almost everything about this car. The technology was robust and easy to use, it felt fast and safe, and it was as comfortable as much more expensive cars. Beyond that it features elegant styling inside and out. Kia could fine tune this car a little more, but for the most part, it's a winner.
There are some people out there who still won’t consider purchasing a Kia. They think Kia’s vehicles are cheap, unreliable and just generally not as good as the competition. Those people don’t know what they’re missing. If you’re one of the people in the know, you get to enjoy the elegance and comfort of a car like the Kia Cadenza. While others may look at the badge on the car with disdain, you’ll be cruising around in a vehicle that’s most likely better than whatever they’re driving.

To be fair, Kia still has a little bit of fine tuning to do to the Cadenza. It isn’t perfect, although after a week with the vehicle we did realize its one heck of a good car. Kia is doing a lot right, and more people should acknowledge the excellence of one of its best models.

Driving Experience

8.3

 

Earlier this year, we drove the K900, which is Kia’s flagship car. That vehicle is cushy and comfortable to a fault. It’s too soft. The Cadenza does a better job of walking the line between a comfortable ride and a sporty one. Still, although it’s better than the K900, it’s not quite perfect. The V6 engine feels powerful but isn’t the fastest. Throttle response is good but not great. The steering is well-calibrated and comfortable but doesn’t blow you away. From a driving standpoint, the Cadenza is on par with the competition. If you put this car next to something like the Buick LaCrosse or the Toyota Avalon, it’ll edge them out but just barely.

The driving characteristics of the Cadenza change considerably depending on the drive modes. While we left it in the regular drive mode most of the time. Switching to sport mode produced noticeable changes, although it didn’t absolutely change how we felt about the car.

Ride Quality: The ride is smooth and errors on the side of comfort. It’s not as cushy as the K900, but it is not as sporty as some of the German-engineered rides that are out there.

Acceleration: The Cadenza can shoot off the line quickly, but be careful or you’ll spin the front wheels easily.

Braking: The brakes do a fine job of slowing the car down and are progressive, but they feel just a little soft. Stiffer, more powerful brakes could improve things.

Steering: The steering is comfortable and reasonably precise, though not really sporty.

Handling: There is a bit of body roll in the Cadenza. Still, the car inspires confidence in the corners, making a real joy to helm.

Technology

8.8

 

Kia, Hyundai and Genesis seem to be dong one of the best jobs with the integration of technology. The infotainment systems make sense and there isn’t much that’s confusing. The UVO eServices Infotainment System is feature packed and everything is right at your fingertips. In addition to that, there’s also a lot of safety technology in the car that does a good job of assisting the driver without being intrusive. Overall, Kia has added technology to the Cadenza in an intelligent manner.

Infotainment System: The system features a high-quality 8-inch display with plenty of features. Navigation, entertainment apps, and cameras are all accessible via the screen. Everything is easy to get to.

Controls: It kind of looks like there are a lot of buttons on the dash, but Kia has a near perfect mix of physical buttons and touchscreen controls.

Bluetooth Pairing: No issues. Easy for pairing and re-pairing.

Voice Call Quality: Excellent on both sides of the call. Clear and crisp.

Styling

9.1

 

We know that attractive styling on a car is a matter of opinion, but we believe the Cadenza is one of the better-looking sedans out there in its class. It’s elegant and sophisticated while still being somewhat subdued. There are no over-the-top elements on this car. Everything just looks nice. It also does this without being boring. Overall, it’s a great-looking car.

Front: The wide, concave grille dominates the face of the Cadenza, but it isn’t so big as to be obnoxious like grilles on all Lexus models. The headlights are aggressive but not too wild.

Rear: The rear is tied together nicely with dual chrome exhausts and a small chrome accent bar that connects the two LED taillights. It’s as attractive as the front end and has many of the same shapes and motifs.

Profile: In profile, you really see the overall length of the car. It’s long, but not ridiculously so. It’s well-proportioned and attractive.

Cabin: As good as the outside of the car looks, the inside is even better. It features high-quality materials and a simple and attractive layout. There’s plenty of space and nothing looks cramped or overdone.

Comfort

9

 

The Kia Cadenza is one of the more comfortable cars you can buy at this price point. Sure, the Toyota Avalon has plenty of room, but its seats aren’t quite as nice as the Kia’s. The leather is soft and the seat cushion supportive but not too firm. From an ergonomics standpoint, the Cadenza gets high marks as well, with everything you need within reach.

Front Seats: The leather is smooth and soft, there’s plenty of leg room and seat adjustment and the cushioning and bolstering are good as well.

Rear Seats: The rear seats offer comfort just a little below that of the front. There is, however, tons of room in the rear. Passengers will not be disappointed in this car.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The Cadenza is quiet and feels solidly built. We noticed no excessive noise, rattles or anything else to suggest otherwise.

Visibility: Mostly good, but parking can be a little tough. The 360-degree camera comes in handy.

Climate: The heated and ventilated front seats and the dual-zone climate control system heat or cool the cabin with ease.

Safety

8.2

 

The 2017 Cadenza has not yet been rated by the IIHS, but the 2016 model received good ratings across the board. The new model has more safety equipment than last year's car, meaning it will likely be even safer.

IIHS Rating: Not available.

Standard Tech: Airbags, seatbelt pretensioners, LATCH children seat anchors, ABS, stability control, traction control, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, hill-start assist control, tire pressure monitoring, impact sensing auto door unlock, blind-spot protection, rear park assist, rear cross traffic alert, smart cruise control, forward collision control, lane change assist, lane departure warning, Bluetooth and heads up display.

Optional Tech: None.

Storage/Cargo

8.5

 

The Cadenza offers generous storage and cargo space, but there are cars that offer more. Still, when it comes to storage, the Cadenza delivers. It has plenty of spaces to stow everyday carry items in the cabin of the car. The trunk is also quite spacious, offering more space than some of the competition and less space than others.

Storage Space: The center console, door pockets and glove box offer generous amounts of storage space within the cabin. While you’ll have to throw any large purses or bags in the rear seat or trunk, most of the stuff that fits in your pockets will have a place up front with you.

Cargo Room: The 16 cubic feet of cargo room is quite a lot. It’s the same as the Toyota Avalon and just a smidge less than the Chrysler 300. You should have no issues taking what you need with you.

Fuel Economy

7.9

 

The 3.3-liter V6 offers a good mix of performance and efficiency. The Cadenza makes up to 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway according to the EPA. We saw a combined fuel economy number that was in between these two, which means they’re likely on the money.

Observed: We saw an average of 24 mpg while driving the Cadenza.

Driving Factors: We spent more time on city roads than on the highway.

Audio

9.3

 

The Harman/Kardon QuantumLogic Premium Surround Sound with Clari-Fi audio system proved to be of high quality. You’ll have no issue getting the amount of sound you want out of its 12 speakers. The audio system can really blast out the tunes when you ask it to.



Final Thoughts

Overall, the Cadenza is excellent. It’s one of our favorite cars that we drove this year. It’s a well-rounded package that’s luxurious and pleasurable to drive. Our gripes were minor. It could use just a little fine tuning in terms of driving performance. If Kia tightened things up a little bit and kept the price close to where it is now, the Cadenza would dominate most of the competition. Currently, it’s a very good car for a reasonable price.
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