Kia Cadenza

Kia’s Cadenza is a compelling choice in a shrinking segment. For those who prefer sedans to SUVs, it not only represents a solid value but also provides near-luxury features throughout its model range. Inside its well-built cabin is room for four adults to stretch out in comfort, and the luxe features only get better the further up its range you climb. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard features, and highly sought-after active safety tech—automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and more—is provided as standard on the midrange Technology trim and the top-spec Limited. That the Cadenza wears a handsome and upscale design is icing on the automotive cake.

What’s New for 2018?

Kia saw fit to make just one change to the Cadenza lineup for 2018: Last year’s Panoramic Sunroof package (a large glass sunroof, power sunshade, and LED interior lighting) is now part of the Luxury package on the base Premium trim instead of being a separate $1000 option. The big glass roof is still standard on Technology and Limited trims.

What Was New for 2017?

The Cadenza was all new for 2017, marking Kia’s sophomore effort for a full-size near-luxury car. Completely redesigned from bumper to bumper, the sharper Cadenza features a sleeker interior and modern technologies such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and an available head-up display. The 3.3-liter V-6 engine was retuned for better fuel economy and paired to a new eight-speed automatic transmission. For the first time, the Cadenza offers a full suite of active safety technology.

Trims and Options We’d Choose

We chose the midrange Technology trim last year, and we’d hold steady on that recommendation for 2018 as well. This year’s build is priced at $40,190 and calls up many modern and luxury items that attract buyers in this segment, including:

• Panoramic sunroof
• 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment with navigation
• 12-speaker Harman/Kardon audio
• Proximity approach lighting

All of the Cadenza’s active safety technologies also come as standard on this midrange trim and on the top-spec Limited model.

While not as quick as its rivals, the Cadenza’s V-6 engine is velvety smooth and competent. The transmission could be more refined, but the Smart driving mode makes the most of the powertrain’s capabilities.

What’s New for 2018?

The components underneath the Cadenza’s sculpted hood carry over to 2018 with zero changes.

2017 Kia Cadenza

The revised 3.3-liter V-6 makes 290 horsepower (three less than in the previous-generation Cadenza), and while the engine itself is a smooth operator, initial throttle response is sleepy. This makes the Cadenza easy to drive around town without disturbing your passengers, but it requires a heavy foot for more immediate zip at stoplights.

The eight-speed automatic is carefree. It’s never quick to change gears, but it stumbles under heavy throttle, and with Sport mode engaged, shifts feel abrupt. The transmission does feature a manual-shifting mode that will hold the gear until the driver provides input. In addition to Sport mode, the Cadenza has Eco, Comfort, and Smart driving modes. Smart mode monitors your driving style and automatically switches between Eco, Sport, and Comfort to provide the optimum balance between performance, fuel economy, and operation.

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