Class: Large Car
Miles Driven: 462
Fuel Used: 21.8 gallons
|CG Report Card|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Room and Comfort||A-|
|Power and Performance||B-|
|Fit and Finish||B+|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
Real-world fuel economy: 21.2 mpg
Driving mix: 75% city, 25% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 20/28/23 (city/highway/combined)
Base price: $38,970 (not including $900 destination charge)
Options on test car: None
Price as tested: $39,890
The great: Roomy and comfortable cabin, pleasant ride
The good: Refined drivetrain
The not so good: Uninspired handling, no stand-alone options available
Love might be too strong of an emotion to be stirred by the redone Kia Cadenza. But like sure seems to be an easily attainable feeling.
It’s not inconceivable that some buyers of the South Korean automaker’s large sedan will find that they love their car. The second-generation Cadenza has some good things going for it. However, it’s bigger on ease and comfort than it is on driving zest. It’s definitely . . . likeable.
The 2017 model gets a new structure that’s stiffer—by more than 35 percent, Kia says—yet lighter than the previous platform. The automatic transmission is now an 8-speed unit, and the range of available comfort and safety features has been expanded. Interior room grows a bit, and external looks have been addressed, too.
Three trim levels are available: base Premium, step-up Technology, and deluxe Limited. Consumer Guide® editors tried out a Technology, which contains most of what’s included in the Limited but quite a bit more than what comes in the Premium.
The new Cadenza is a bit lower and wider than its 2014-16 predecessor, with a wheelbase stretched by .4 of an inch to 112.4 inches. Two different grille textures fill the “tiger-nose” opening—a Kia styling cue. The Technology (and Limited) uses the “Intaglio” style with concave and faceted vertical blades that impart a bit of a Volvo look. Z-shaped lighting signatures on the headlights and LED taillights, and a longer roofline are other styling highlights of the ’17 Cadenza.
There’s still a 3.3-liter V6 under the hood, but it has been very slightly tamped down to 290 horsepower and 253 lb-ft of torque while paired with Kia’s first application of the 8-speed automatic in a front-wheel-drive drive car. It’s enough of a powerteam to get the Cadenza around in good order, and in reasonable quiet, without unduly raising anybody’s heart rate. The transmission kicks down at the right time for effective passing on the highway. There’s some payback in terms of fuel economy. Even with stricter testing standards that have lowered EPA mileage estimates in effect this year the Cadenza has gained one mpg in city ratings—now 20—and held fast at 28 mpg on the highway. In a 115.3-mile test stint with 76 percent city-type driving, this reviewer averaged 21.2 mpg.
Ride is better than handling, with decent bump absorption but steering feel that’s only passably engaged with the road, and noticeable body lean in corners. Prod the car to make a fast takeoff from rest and you might get a whiff of torque steer. Braking is quick and sure, however.
Another perceived benefit of big cars is passenger room, and this jumbo Kia delivers in that department. There’s abundant leg- and headroom front and rear—with the full benefit of the added wheelbase length bestowed on rear legroom. Three-person seating is possible across the back seat, but if that middle passenger is an adult, he or she can’t be too tall because headroom is limited in the center in cars equipped with the panoramic sunroof as the test car was.
The leather seats are comfortable with good support, and, in the Tech and Limited models, include a 14-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with 4-way power lumbar support and a power cushion extender. Flexible soft-surface material covers the top of the dashboard, door armrests, and much of the door panels. Piano-black and imitation-wood panels provide some contrast. Flocking covers the interior of the glove box and console cubby, both of which are roomy. Other cabin storage includes a covered bin at the front of the console with USB and auxiliary inputs, and the wireless smartphone charger; long pockets with bottle holders in all four doors; and pouches on the backs of the front seats. Two covered cup holders are in the console, with two more for rear passengers in the pull-down center armrest.
Trunk space is good, not great, with a flat floor throughout and covered gooseneck hinges, but a substantial lip that might complicate loading and unloading. Like many cars in the big-sedan class, the rear seat does not fold. It does, however, incorporate a central pass-through for long items.
Standard equipment that kicks in at the Technology level includes paddle shifters for the transmission, 19-inch alloy wheels, LED fog lights, power-folding exterior mirrors, the big sunroof, rain-sensing windshield wipers, power adjust for the leather-wrapped tilt/telescoping steering column, heated steering wheel, 10-way power-adjustable front-passenger seat, seat/mirrors/steering memory, ventilated front seats, smartphone charger, and an electronic parking brake. An 8-inch color touchscreen displays audio, navigation, and UVO infotainment information. Audio plays through a 12-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound system, which—like the dual-zone automatic climate control—is programmed through an extensive array of buttons on the center stack. The Technology level is also the starting point for new driver aids like autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, forward-collision warning, blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-change assist, “Advanced Smart Cruise Control,” a surround-view monitor (visible on the touchscreen), and automatic headlight high-beam control.
All of this comes for $38,990, plus another $900 for delivery. That’s $7000 more than the starting tab for the Premium but $5400 less than the Limited with its nicer upholstery and a few more amenities. If that money can’t buy you love, perhaps it can buy you like.