Published in CAR REVIEWS

Kia Cadenza offers luxurious feel, impressive interior, strong tech Featured

Jan 29, 2018 Hit: 590 Written by 
The Kia Cadenza is a full-size sedan with an upscale character.
The Kia Cadenza is a full-size sedan with an upscale character. Photo by Matt Myftiu/

Unique vehicles are hard to find, but the Kia Cadenza is a unique vehicle in a couple of ways.

First, it’s a full-size sedan; and there aren’t many of those left for sale.

Second, it’s an attempt by a non-luxury brand (Kia) to create a vehicle that’s designed in a luxurious way to compete with the luxury models.

I recently had a chance to get behind the wheel of a Cadenza, and I’m back with a full report on what it offers and who might want to give it a look. (Note: I tested a 2017 Cadenza, but the 2018 model has only minor changes)

Additional Info

  • Vehicle:: Kia Cadenza
  • Price as tested:: $45,290 (starting price is $32,290)
  • Best feature:: Luxury feel, smooth ride and strong technology features
  • Rating:: 4.5 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?:: Buyers seeking a classy ride who aren’t concerned with following brand trends


Being a full-size sedan, it’s no surprise that the Cadenza is sizable and comfortable for all passengers, even when seating five. Legroom abounds in front and back, and tall people aren’t bumping the ceiling in the back seat. Cargo capacity is limited, as the rear seats do not fold down.

On the exterior, the Cadenza I tested featured 19-inch wheels, and arguably the most attractive exterior design in the full-size sedan class. From Kia’s attractive front grille design to the many-spoked wheels which complement that grille design, it’s definitely a looker and not what what you’d normally associate with a Kia vehicle.

Heading back inside, you get impressive quality materials for a vehicle of this price range. The Nappa Leather in the top trim level looks and feels great, and is comfortable even on longer drives.

One unique thing I noticed in the Cadenza was the Impressive interior lighting setup -- It’s extremely bright and you see very clearly throughout the vehicle if you flip the switch and need to locate something in the vehicle during nighttime hours.

The Cadenza features heated seats, and you can also opt for ventilated seats up front. Another option is heated rear seats if you want those passengers to stay cozy too.

Among other convenience features in the Cadenza are: Push-button start; Power tilt and telescopic steering column; LED headlights and fog lights; Panoramic sunroof, and dual-zone automatic climate control with rear vents.


There is only one power plant offered in the Cadenza -- a 3.3-liter, V6 engine paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Paddle shifters are also included.

The numbers on the Cadenza are 290 horsepower 253 lb.-ft. of torque; it’s not over powerful but still is quite fast and very fun to drive, especially in Sport Mode.
The Cadenza also hums along very comfortably when you’re out cruising, and the handling was impressively responsive. It’s also a quiet ride, in part due to the sound-absorbing windshield and front windows.

One thing to note: The Cadenza is a front-wheel drive vehicle only (no AWD option is offered)


Across the board, things are looking up in this category for the Cadenza.
The UVO eServices infotainment system is featured in the vehicle, and works very well. Physical controls in the center of vehicle and on the steering wheel are set up to be easy to use, and the voice commands also work very well.

A navigation system with 8-inch touchscreen is offered, and it got me where I needed to go without fail. A rear camera is standard (as is a 7-inch screen). On the top two trim levels, a wireless phone charging pad is located in a convenient spot up front.

Optional on base model, but standard on top two trim levels, is an sharp-sounding Harman Kardon premium audio system. Satellite radio is included as a 3-month free trial.

Bluetooth connection is standard on all Cadenza models (allowing you to stream music through your phone), as is Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for full smartphone integration.

Many other safety features are offered, though many of them can only be found on the top trim level. They include: Autonomous Emergency Braking; Forward Collision Alert; Smart Blind Spot Detection/Rear Cross Traffic Alert; Lane Departure Warning System; Rear Parking Assist System and Surround View Monitor; Auto-rain sensing windshield wipers; Power-folding heated mirrors with LED turn signals

Official numbers on the Cadenza are 20 city/28 highway/23 combined (and it features an 18.5 gallon tank). It’s main competitors are the Chevy Impala and Toyota Avalon full-size sedans, but it’s in the same ballpark as those vehicles. And the Avalon and Impala are less up-to-date and modern than the Cadenza, so fuel mileage won’t be a reason one might sway to the competition.


My test vehicle was a top-end Limited model and was priced just over $45K; base price starts about $32K, so the range is pretty wide. The Cadenza is battling with some of the other “almost-luxury” vehicles for sale, as well as some of the entry-level luxury rides for sale.


While not in the immediate discussion when the topic of luxurious rides comes up, the Kia brand is making a name for itself with strong models like the K900 and the Cadenza. If you’re looking for a sedan that’s roomy and high-class, but without the higher price associated with established luxury brands, the Kia Cadenza may be one to consider due to its quality design inside and out, smooth ride and impressive technology offerings.

========= 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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