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By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

Don’t you just love it when the status quo gets challenged? Enter the Cadenza, a sophisticated and technologically advanced sedan put forth by Kia. Top it with a reasonable price and spirited performance, you’ve got a vehicle that can make any consumer second guess the power of a more well-known luxury brand.

I drove a 2017 Kia Cadenza with the 290-horsepower 3.3-liter V6 and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Available in three trims – the base Premium, Technology or Limited – my Limited model featured the following standard features: Nappa leather seat trim; heated and cooled front seats; heated rear seats; dual-zone climate control; an upgraded Harman Kardan audio system; UVO eServices infotainment; an 8-inch touchscreen with navigation and a surround view rear camera; heads up display; Bluetooth connectivity; Android and AppleCar Play integration; push-button start; leather-wrapped steering wheel with mounted controls; LED head and fog lights; nineteen-inch Dark Satin wheels; a power retractable rear sunshade and side window manual pull shades; a power trunk opening; panoramic sunroof; and a very loaded safety technology suite that includes Forward Collison Warning, Land Departure Warning, Rear Parking Assist, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Smart Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Price as described comes to $44,390.

It’s been three model years ago since my last Cadenza ride, and the vehicle has been fully redesigned for 2017 so timing couldn’t have been more perfect for a test drive. Other familiar sedans to compare the Cadenza against include the Ford Taurus, Toyota Avalon and the Chevy Impala; but also include fancier nameplates like the Lexus GS 350 and Buick LaCrosse.


Stylish But Comfortable Results: While certainly alluring, poised and even fierce, the exterior design also achieves functional brilliance with z-shaped LED crystalline taillights and aerodynamic sculpting at the side doors. Kia’s in-car UVO eServices is intuitive enough to use with reachable dials and voice-command navigation, music and calls. The eight-inch high-resolution touchscreen display with a surround view backup camera keeps you from breaking out in a sweat during tight parking situations. Rear seating is roomy, and I fit three kids all with boosters quite easily. I think you’d be plenty satisfied at the Technology level (skip the base Premium), which has the same safety suite as the Limited. (Extras on the Limited include heads up display, heated rear seats, that rear window power sunshade, and Nappa leather). Having recently test driven the 2017 Lexus GS 350 F-SPORT, a sedan placed in the entry-level luxury segment, I can attest the Cadenza puts on a more impressive show.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rates the 2017 Kia Cadenza as a Top Safety Pick with “Good” results in every crash test area. The Technology and Limited trims are recommended for adding safety technology suite that includes Forward Collison Warning, Land Departure Warning, Rear Parking Assist, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Smart Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Smaller children can buckle themselves in with little fuss.

Cost Issues: Kia makes an honest attempt to give as much convenience and luxury as possible. The Premium starts at $31,990; the Technology at $38,990; and the Limited at $44,390. My recent 2017 Lexus GS 350 F-SPORT without options was $54,810.

Activity & Performance Ability: Swift and instinctual would be my two optimal words to describe the road feel of the Cadenza. I found the acceleration quick and the braking on command. Handling around the corners and suspension didn’t reach what can be felt on sedans with more serious underpinning, but the ride was pleasing nonetheless. That plethora of safety technologies takes the stress out of every day (and night) driving situations – Kia is an innovator on the tech front even where performance is concerned, and has managed to make the driver feel more connected through these highly responsive systems.

The Green Concern: The 3.3-liter V6 engine retains gets 19-city and 27-highway for a combined 22 miles-per-gallon – typical numbers for performance-oriented sedans with a V6.

In short, the redesigned 2017 Kia Cadenza will fulfill all your needs for a luxury-inspired sedan at a not-so-luxurious price. I give it a slight ding for not offering a hybrid or smaller turbocharged engine choice.

©2017 Katrina Ramser

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