Published in CAR REVIEWS

Kia’s upscale Cadenza sedan reboots for 2017 Featured

Mar 02, 2017 Hit: 867 Written by 
The Kia Cadenza gets a redesign for 2017.
The Kia Cadenza gets a redesign for 2017. Photo courtesy of Kia

The Cadenza seemingly came out of nowhere in 2014 -- It was Kia’s attempt to show itself as capable of producing a sedan that could compete in the entry-level luxury segment (what I like to call “luxury lite”). At the time, when I tested the original, I thought it was a bold splash, but needed some refinement and improvements to truly compete.

Here we are in 2017, and that refresh has arrived.

The Cadenza sits somewhere between a midsize sedan and a large sedan, but the new model moves it more toward the large side of that argument.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle:: 2017 Kia Cadenza
  • Price as tested:: Starts at $31,990 (tops out about $45K)
  • Best feature:: Top-notch and classy interior design, spacious back seat
  • Rating:: 4 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?:: Folks who want an upscale sedan without going the full luxury route

The Cadenza is an upscale sedan; not quite at the full luxury level but headed in that direction. It’s chief competitors will be vehicles like the Buick Lacrosse, Toyota Avalon, Nissan Maxima, Chrysler 300, Hyundai Azera, and Lincoln MKZ. It’s aimed at those who aren’t buying into the SUV craze but still want a high-quality vehicle. The sedan is on the decline overall, but there are plenty of sales still and Kia hopes the improved Cadenza helps them in this battle royale for those buyers. In terms of Kia’s products, it’s the step up from their more pedestrian and affordable sedan offering -- the Optima.

The Cadenza’s new body structure is slight wider and lower, and features a longer wheelbase and more rear leg room. It can comfortably seat five people.


What jumps out at you about the Cadenza is the classy look it conveys both inside and out.
Exterior grabs your attention without overly wowing you, but the interior will get that “wow” from you.

The available Nappa leather seats are a sight to behold and feel great; Overall interior design is classy, including woodgrain interior accents. You see very well regardless of conditions via LED headlights and fog lights.
A panoramic sunroof is offered, and you also get power folding heated mirrors with LED turn signals.

It’s slightly less spacious inside than some rivals in terms of head space … but the Cadenza’s legroom is more than adequate. Overall, I would rank the Cadenza as one of the best interiors in this segment.



Large sedans aren’t generally known for an amazing ride quality. So I had realistic expectations here.

A 3.3-liter V6 engine is offered on the Cadenza, along with an 8-speed automatic transmission with Sport mode and paddle shifters.

Numbers are 290 horsepower … and 253 lb.-ft. of torque; This is not a truly sporty car, but it is quiet and comfortable and can be fun to drive. It’s an improved ride compared to first version of Cadenza, but not as fast or sporty as some rivals.


Competing well in the area of tech and safety features is a must if you’re going to compete well in any segment -- especially when you’re starting to enter the luxury segment.

The Kia Cadenza can rest its pistons at night knowing it does well on both accounts.

On the safety front, in addition to the usual array of airbags, you get: ABS, traction control, vehicle stability management, hill-start assist, and tire pressure monitoring.

Other safety options include automatic emergency braking; adaptive cruise control; forward collision warning; smart blind spot detection; rear cross-traffic alert; and lane departure warning; and rear parking assist system with surround view monitor.

The tech setup in the Cadenza was well organized, and worked well via voice and touch.

A navigation system, with an 8-inch touchscreen and rear camera, is offered, and does its job well. KIa also stays up to date, with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration included.

Among other tech related features, you get: dual-zone automatic temperature control; three months free satellite radio included; Bluetooth enabled for streaming music and phone calls; Heated and ventilated front seats; Push button start; and smart key for easier vehicle entry.

The official fuel mileage numbers on the Cadenza are 20 city/28 highway/23 combined, and my numbers while driving were consistent with these ratings … With an 18.5 gallon tank you’ll go about 400 to 500 miles between fill-ups. These are decent numbers compared to similar vehicles in the segment -- better than some of the competition, but slightly behind others.

The base price of the Cadenza starts about $32,000; there are three levels of trim offered and you can go into the mid-to-upper 40K range with a Cadenza fully decked out. This price range is at the high end of non-luxury sedans, and the low end of luxury.

One thing to consider is that being a new vehicle, the Cadenza’s long-term reliability is unknown at this point … but the reputation of the Hyundai/Kia partnership has been growing in recent years.

Warranty is strong too: 10-year/100K mile on the powertrain warranty; 5 year/60K for basic warranty and roadside assistance.


Kia was smart to reimagine the Cadenza just a few years after it came out. Time waits for no one in this auto industry, and if you’re not adapting to the times and your competitors you are sure to lose in the end. The improved design will likely boost the 2017 Cadenza as it tries to get a stronger foothold in the battle of upscale-but-not-quite-luxury vehicles..


============ can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page.

Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.





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Matt Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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