2017 Kia Cadenza
Kia Cadenza is a great car that presents an interesting predicament. It’s beautiful, well equipped, has won vehicle satisfaction and quality awards, safety kudos, and a few “best of” designations. But sedan sales are down across the board as consumers flock to crossovers and SUVs for their transportation needs. Plus, Cadenza costs $45,000, a price point that puts it in luxury territory, with a non-luxury moniker.
On the positive side, while Kia’s overall sales have declined through the first half of 2017, Cadenza sales have more than doubled. It was completely redesigned for this model year in hopes that a more sophisticated look and premium refinements would invigorate demand.
Indeed, Cadenza strikes an impressive profile. Kia’s chief design officer Peter Schreyer’s design philosophy focuses on the simplicity of the straight line, and the Cadenza’s visage certainly abides by this concept. A single contour spans the length of the vehicle, creating a sleek modern profile. Z-shaped lighting signatures in the headlights and LED taillights reinforce the linear design language.
Inside — and I don’t mean this as a slight on the brand — I almost forgot I was driving a Kia. The leather seats are living-room-recliner comfortable; you can even stretch your legs a bit in the ample rear seat. Supple Nappa leather seats have multiple adjustments to find a suitable driving position. And front seats are both heated and ventilated, upping the comfort factor. All of the interior materials are attractive and upscale, with the operating controls configured in a logical and easy to navigate layout. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are integrated into the infotainment system, and an excellent Harman Kardon premium sound system pumps your preferred soundtrack throughout the cabin.
Cadenza is available in three luxuriously appointed trims: Premium, Technology, and Limited. All are powered by a 290-horsepower engine paired with an electronically controlled eight-speed automatic transmission. Cadenza practically glides down the road but feels connected enough to let the driver feel in control. The result is a drive quality that is pleasurable, confident, and library quiet.
I particularly liked the head-up display in my Limited model, which displayed the speed and turn-by-turn navigation directions on the windshield in my sight line while driving. I, for one, can recount instances where I’ve taken my eyes off the road briefly to verify an upcoming turn, particularly on an unfamiliar route. I appreciated the redundancy of the spoken direction and having the turn instructions directly in front of me. And, the cameras used for the Surround View Monitor are excellent, giving a clear view of the area surrounding the Cadenza, and guidelines to use when backing the vehicle into or out of a parking space.
Cadenza was truly a pleasure to drive. It really has every desirable feature you’d find in a luxury vehicle. And, $45,000 for the top-of-the-line Limited model seems like a bargain for the level of comfort, technology, and safety features, and smooth performance you’ll find in the Cadenza. But is it too much for consumers to spend on a vehicle without a luxury nameplate? I say give it a try; Cadenza will have you set your pretenses aside.