• 2017 Kia Cadenza

Sportier and more upscale than ever before

When Kia brought its resident full-sized sedan, the Kia Cadenza, to the U.S. market, we were pretty impressed by the car’s quality and design. It’s only been a few years since then, and Kia has impressed us even further with the redesigned, second-generation model. On the outside, the new sedan as a single contour line that runs the full length of the car and a more couple-like profile compared to the outgoing model. The grille takes on a new interpretation of the “Tiger Nose” design language, and the car has an overall look of simplicity and elegance. Inside, the redesign includes a new instrument cluster, lowered driver’s seat, a more upscale feel, and some new technology to bring it in line with the full sized market. The same engine from the last generation model carries over, but it has been detuned to offer a little less power and better fuel economy.

Competing against models like the BMW 5 Series and the Chrysler 300, Kia had to keep up. The fact that Kia is even competing with more luxurious brands like BMW and Chrysler is still pretty crazy, but the redesign imposed on the Cadenza for 2016 shows that Kia is surely up to the task. But you don’t have to take my word for it – take a look at our thorough review below to learn about all the fine details for yourself. It isn’t a car you want to overlook if you’re in the market for a new and somewhat sporty sedan.

Updated 03/24/2016: Kia unveiled the revised Cadenza at the 2016 New York Auto Show.

Continue reading to find out more about the 2017 Kia Cadenza.

  • 2017 Kia Cadenza
  • Year:
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
  • Displacement:
    3.3 L
  • 0-60 time:
    7 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    155 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    37000 (Est.)
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:


2017 Kia Cadenza High Resolution Exterior
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2017 Kia Cadenza High Resolution Exterior
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2017 Kia Cadenza High Resolution Exterior
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When Kia released the first conceptual renderings of the new Cadenza, it promised "a bold reinterpretation of the current model’s popular design." Now that the sedan made its debut at the New York Auto Show, it’s safe to say that Kia wasn’t just whistling dixie. Sure, the actual car isn’t as aggressive as the original "concept," but many of the intriguing features seen on the rendering have made it into the production model. Designed around Peter Schreye’s philosophy focusing on "the simplicity of the straight line," the new Cadenza is defined by a single contour line that spans the length of the car and a sleek, coupe-like profile.

Up front, it sports a new interpretation of the trademark "tiger nose" grille, which features sharper edges and a concave form

Up front, it sports a new interpretation of the trademark "tiger nose" grille, which features sharper edges and a concave form. The grille comes in two flavors: a "diamond butterfly" mesh on the lower trims and a "Intaglio" layout with vertical blades on the more expensive versions. The front fascia also comes with Z-shaped lighting signatures seen on the initial renderings and a sporty bumper with large LED daytime running lights and a thin, trapezoidal intake in the middle.

The rear is highlighted by a massive bumper with a trapezoidal license plate recess, large exhaust outlets, and slender taillights with Z-shaped LEDS. A chrome strip runs the entire width of the rear fascia just above the taillights and gives the sedan a classy appearance. Chrome accents were added to the side windows as well, while the B- and C-pillars were blacked-out for a pillarless look. Finally, the Cadenza received newly designed 18- and 19-inch wheels and optional Michelin tires.

As far as size goes, the second-gen models has the length of its predecessor, but it is slightly wider and lower in height. Its wheelbase is also slightly longer, while the front and rear overhangs are shorter.


2017 Kia Cadenza High Resolution Interior
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The interior of the Cadenza has also been redesigned, but much like the exterior, some of the features were carried over from the first-gen. For instance, while the instrument cluster and center stack are no longer housed under the same "hood," the dashboard features the same wrap-around design, while the A/C vents, infotainment screen, and radio buttons are arranged in a similar fashion. On the other hand, the dashboard has a more cohesive design and the center stack looks cleaner, with fewer buttons and control thanks to the updated infotainment system.

The instrument cluster is all new with two traditional gauges instead of the large, center-mounted speedometer seen on the previous model

The instrument cluster is all new with two traditional gauges instead of the large, center-mounted speedometer seen on the previous model, while the steering wheel employs a more modern design with a narrower lower spoke and reconfigured controls. Kia also upped the ante in the luxury department and added authentic stitching to the dashboard, soft-touch materials on the door panels, and quilted bolsters and diamond-shaped stitching on the seats.

Speaking of which, the driver’s seat has been lowered for a sportier feel behind the wheel, while the seat cushion was extended and fitted with a mechanism that slides and rotates, enabling drivers to find a more comfortable position during long rides. There’s also a new brown interior color, which brings the total number of finishes available to four. The White Package remains an option and receives new black wood-grain-style trim with a pearlescent sheen.

The new cabin is also quieter than the previous model thanks to additional noise-absorbing laminate in the front windows and windshield, and increased insulation around the A-pillars.

As far as technology goes, the sedan comes with a new head-up display, Surround Vew Monitor with improved software and resolution, and UVO infotainment with Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. A new Smart Trunk feature opens the trunk lid if the sensor detects the key fob for more than three seconds. A 12-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system is offered as an option.

Due to the slightly longer wheelbase, rear legroom gained half an inch. Not that it will make much of a difference to rear-seat passenger, but it’s a notable improvement for a vehicle that’s not longer than its predecessor.


2017 Kia Cadenza High Resolution Drivetrain
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Not surprisingly, Kia’s trusty 3.3-liter V-6 returns in the Cadenza with improved fuel economy. However, the Korean brand says that the retuned V-6 is estimated to produce 290 horsepower, which is a three-horspower drop from the current model. Not exactly good news if you were expecting 300+ horsepower from the new Cadenza, but the lighter, stiffer platform should enable the sedan to deliver better performance despite the power deficit.

The revised V-6 has been tested at full power and under full load conditions for 41 consecutive days, meaning it should be reliable too

The revised V-6 has been tested at full power and under full load conditions for 41 consecutive days, meaning it should be reliable too.

With the updated engine and stiffer architecture comes a new automatic transmission with eight cogs. Kia’s first FWD-based eight-speed, the new slushbox is lighter than the six-speed automatic it replaces and Kia says it is highly efficient, providing quick and crisp shifts.

Performance data is not yet available, which isn’t surprising given that Kia will unveil exact horsepower and torque figures later this year. Stick around for updates.


2017 Kia Cadenza High Resolution Exterior
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The new Kia Cadenza is the first vehicle to be sold in the U.S. under the Drive Wise sub-brand, which means that it comes with state-of-the-art driver assistance features. The list includes Advanced Smart Cruise Control with stop-and-go function, Forward Collision Warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, and Smart Blind Spot Detection. The latter is a first for Kia and senses unintentional drifting toward an adjacent vehicle and automatically brakes the opposite side front wheel to help maintain the car’s intended course.

The Cadenza also features a new body structure composed of more than 50 percent advanced high-strength steel, more than twice the amount used in the previous model. Structural stiffness has been increased by more than 35 percent, which not only improves safety, but enhances driving dynamics as well. As far as airbags go, Kia added a driver’s knee airbag, bringing the total number of airbags in the vehicle to nine.


The significant update shouldn’t increase the Cadenza’s sticker by more than $3,000 over the current model. That said, expect the second-gen sedan to retail from around $37,000 and remain competitive against similar products coming from U.S. automakers and significantly more affordable than German offerings.


Chrysler 300

2015 Chrysler 300 Exterior
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The 300 might not draw attention to itself as a luxury sedan, but its cabin is well-equipped even in the base trim. What’s more, the 2015 facelift added higher-quality materials, more wood and aluminum inserts, a cleaner center console, and the Chrysler 200’s rotary selector. A new seven-inch display and Chrysler’s newest Uconnect system make the 300’s cabin a nice place to be. The fact that Chrysler managed to recapture some of the 300’s original design with the 2015 facelift makes the sedan more attractive on the outside as well. Motivating the 300 is a 3.6-liter, Pentastar V-6 that’s on par with the Cadenza’s engine at 292 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. But, unlike the Kia, the Chrysler comes with a rear-wheel-drive setup and an optional V-8 powerplant that cranks out 363 ponies and 394 pound-feet. Pricing for the 300 starts from $31,395.

Read our full review on Chrysler 300 here.

BMW 5 Series

2014 BMW 5-Series High Resolution Exterior
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Comparing a BMW to a Kia might have seemed ridiculous five years ago, but that’s no longer the case. Sure, the 5 Series is the more dynamic option and comes with all-wheel-drive, as well as a hefty dose of brand cachet, but the Cadenza outshines the Bimmer in terms of standard features, and does so for about $15K less. Although the current 5 Series range begins with the 528i model, it’s the 535i you need to cross-shop with the Cadenza if you’re looking for a similar output. The 3.0-liter delivers 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque to either the rear wheels or to all four corners, enabling the Bimmer to sprint from 0 to 60 in 5.7 seconds. An eight-speed automatic does all the shifting, while auto start-stop helps improve fuel economy. BMW claims the 535i can return up to 31 mpg on the highway, a figure Kia likely aims to match with the next-gen Cadenza. The current 5 Series range begins from $49,950, while the 535i retails from $55,600.

Read our full review on the BMW 5 Series here.


2017 Kia Cadenza High Resolution Exterior
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Kia has evolved dramatically as a brand over the last decade, with both the Cadenza and the K900 now being able to challenge the big boys of their respective segments. It may still lack the brand cachet that BMW and Audi have, but the Cadenza is a great option for buyers looking for a premium full-size that won’t rip their bank accounts to shreds. With a stiffer chassis, a quicker eight-speed automatic, improved fuel economy, added standard features and higher-grade materials, the new Cadenza is an improvement in just about every department. Of course, the lack of AWD will likely keep a significant number of customers away, but the Koreans could be working on such a system as we speak.

  • Leave it
    • * Still lacks the brand cachet of its competitors in the U.S.
    • * Needs all-wheel-drive

Updated History

Updated 11/12/2015: Kia dropped the first teaser images of its upcoming Cadenza which will be put on sale in early 2016.

Spy Shots

March 02, 2015 - First testing session

2017 Kia Cadenza Exterior Spyshots
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2017 Kia Cadenza Exterior Spyshots
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2017 Kia Cadenza Exterior Spyshots
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Ciprian Florea
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read full bio
About the author

Press Release

The Big Apple today is playing host to the world debut of the all-new 2017 Kia Cadenza at the New York International Auto Show. The stunningly beautiful Cadenza improves upon all the elements that made its predecessor an award-winning success, boasting a precisely crafted cabin, cutting edge technology for connectivity and driver assistance, a stronger body structure, and powertrain enhancements for a more premium experience behind the wheel.

2017 Kia Cadenza High Resolution Exterior
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“The new Cadenza adds an extra dose of excitement to the large-car segment with its striking, aggressively handsome looks and premium refinements,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president of product planning, Kia Motors America. “Everything you see and touch in the Cadenza’s cabin has been improved, but it’s underneath where the Cadenza truly shines with a stiffer and lighter chassis, eight-speed transmission and vastly improved driving dynamics.”

The second-generation Cadenza is set to go on-sale in late 2016, and pricing will be announced closer to the vehicle’s launch date.

Elegant and Confident Exterior
Designed at Kia’s California design studio, birthplace of the unforgettable Track’ster and GT4 Stinger concepts as well as the iconic Soul, the Cadenza’s precision-machined exterior exudes confidence, with clean lines offset by expressive details. It all starts with Kia Chief Design Officer Peter Schreyer’s oft-quoted philosophy focusing on “the simplicity of the straight line,” which is defined by a single gestural contour that spans the length of the car, creating a sleek profile. This lineation visually links matching Z-shaped lighting signatures in the headlights and LED tail lights, affording the all-new Cadenza a more distinctive road presence, day or night. The overall impression is one of modernity and power, which is achieved by visually shearing away surface area to create a more angular form.

Head on, the Cadenza is more expressive thanks to the newly designed front fascia. While the signature Kia “tiger nose” grille is still an unmistakable design trait, it has evolved into a new hexagonal shape that emphasizes the Cadenza’s visual width with lines extending underneath the headlights. But the more substantial change to the grille is its distinct concave form, which curves in toward the engine bay, giving the Cadenza its handsomely chiseled face.

2017 Kia Cadenza High Resolution Exterior
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Unlike other cars in the segment, the Cadenza is available with two different grilles. Lower trim models will come with the “Diamond Butterfly” front grille that features the same three-dimensional pattern as several siblings within the Kia lineup, but has its own unique appearance thanks to the concave shape. Higher trim models will come with the “Intaglio” grille, featuring vertically oriented, faceted blades.

LED technology inside the “piano key” taillights helps create visual depth while also complementing the Z-shape lighting signature. Other thoughtful details include the chrome garnish that extends through the trunk lid, accentuating the Cadenza’s wide stance, and tasteful chrome accents on the side mirrors and rear quarter windows.

Exterior styling is further enhanced by optimized dimensions. While the new Cadenza has the same overall length as the outgoing model, it’s slightly wider and lower in height. The wheelbase has been stretched slightly, contributing to nearly a half-inch of increased legroom for rear passengers. Achieving Cadenza’s sportier profile was achieved by extending the roofline rearward more than two inches, while maintaining rear headroom and slightly improving trunk space.

Exquisitely Comfortable Interior Space
The interior is thoughtfully redesigned with even higher quality materials than the preceding model and higher levels of craftsmanship throughout. Like the exterior, the Cadenza’s soft interior contours are offset by sheared surfaces. Kia designers visually widened the Cadenza’s interior space with a wraparound dashboard that flows into the door panels and features real stitching. The door panels themselves have been adorned with higher quality soft-touch materials, while soft leather envelopes the Cadenza’s cabin space. Nappa leather is available with quilted seat bolsters accented by diamond shaped stitching that dresses up the Cadenza’s already attractive cabin. For 2017, buyers have greater opportunity to customize their Cadenza, as a dark brown interior color has been added, bringing the total number of color combinations to four. Like the outgoing model, the White Package remains an option, but it has been upgraded with a new black wood-grain-style trim finished with a pearlescent sheen.

Improvements were made throughout to ensure a more pleasant driving experience. The driver’s seat has been lowered for a sportier and more stable feeling, while engineers extended the seat cushion slightly and developed an innovative cushion extension mechanism that slides and rotates, making it easier for drivers to find their comfort zone behind the wheel. The heating elements used for the seat warmers have been reengineered to more evenly distribute warmth, and as a Kia first, the seat heaters now utilize a smart control system to automatically lower the heater operating mode after a certain period of time.

2017 Kia Cadenza High Resolution Exterior
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The Driving Experience
The 2017 Cadenza is built upon a strong foundation with a body structure composed of more than 50 percent Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS) — more than twice the amount used in the outgoing model. Engineers are targeting an overall five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration and a Top Safety Pick+ designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. A driver’s knee airbag helps in this regard and brings the total number of airbags in the vehicle to nine.

The first Kia to be sold in the U.S. under the DRIVE WISE sub-brand, the Cadenza offers cutting-edge driver assistance features1 such as Advanced Smart Cruise Control with stop-and-go functionality, Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking, and Lane Departure Warning. Another Kia first is the Smart Blind Spot Detection System1 which senses unintentional drifting toward an adjacent vehicle and automatically brakes the opposite side front wheel to help maintain the vehicle’s intended course.

Side body panels are stronger and feature increased tensile strength steel to improve Cadenza’s dent resistance. Thanks to the increased use of structural adhesive and hot-stamped components, structural stiffness has been increased by more than 35 percent, which also improves driving dynamics. The overall chassis is lighter, thanks to the use of aluminum instead of steel in areas like the front steering knuckles, and engineers retuned the front and rear subframes with larger bushings to improve lateral stiffness and NVH characteristics. Further improving the ride are Amplitude Selective Damping (ASD) shock absorbers that maximize ride comfort without sacrificing stability. An extra valve in the damper provides the appropriate damping force according to the road surface, while the new shock absorber now includes a Hydraulic Rebound Stopper (HRS), which works to provide a smoother ride over harsh or broken surfaces. The retuned suspension has improved the Cadenza’s lift coefficient (the up-and-down forces exerted on a moving vehicle), and the end result is better high-speed stability and handling. Steering is more responsive than before with better on-center feel thanks to a new 32-bit Electronic Control Unit (ECU), replacing the 16-bit processor in the outgoing model.

The 2017 Cadenza’s confident ride and handling are complemented by improvements in NVH. Additional acoustic absorbing laminate in the front windows and windshield reduces wind noise, while a full floorpan undercover quells road noise. Together with increased insulation around the A-pillars, NVH levels have been substantially reduced, resulting in a library-quiet interior. The floorpan undercover also helps improve the Cadenza’s aerodynamic performance, along with front wheel air curtains that reduce drag around the tires. Overall, the coefficient of drag has improved from 0.29 to 0.28.

Newly designed 18- or 19-inch alloy wheels may be shod with available Michelin®2 tires (P245/45R18 or P245/40R19). Behind the wheels, larger brake rotors improve overall braking performance and feel. The front brakes have been increased from 11 to 12 inches, while the rears have grown marginally from 11 to 11.1 inches, helping to reduce stopping distances.

2017 Kia Cadenza High Resolution Exterior
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Harmonious and Modern Cockpit
Brimming with technology, the cockpit is designed to provide a more harmonious human-machine interface with ergonomically intelligent design, intuitive controls, and a suite of enhanced convenience features making the driving experience enjoyable and effortless. New to the 2017 Cadenza is the Head Up Display (HUD)3, which shows key driver information such as speed and turn-by-turn navigation directions on the windshield directly in the driver’s line of sight. In addition, the Surround View Monitor1 has been updated with improved software and resolution that gives the driver a clearer birds-eye view of the area around the vehicle, with newly added reverse guidelines offering confidence when backing into confined spaces. Other features new to the Cadenza include Smart Trunk, which conveniently opens the trunk lid if the sensor detects the key fob for more than three seconds, and a wireless smartphone charger. The latest generation of Kia’s UVO system featuring Android Auto4 and Apple® CarPlay5 is standard, while a 12-speaker Harman/Kardon® system featuring Clari-Fi™6 music restoration technology is an option.

Efficient and Durable Performance
Underneath the hood is a revised version of Kia’s 3.3-liter V6 engine, which has been retuned for improved fuel economy. With an estimated 290 hp on tap (exact power output and fuel economy figures will be released closer to the vehicle’s on-sale date), the engine sends power to the front wheels via Kia’s first FWD-based eight-speed automatic transmission. The newly developed transmission is highly efficient, providing quick and crisp shifts for a more enjoyable driving experience that will set it apart from its competitors. Despite having two extra cogs, the eight-speed transmission, which was designed in-house, is lighter than the unit in the outgoing model.

Kia engineers also focused on durability and reliability during the development of the all-new Cadenza. Running the V6 at full power and under full-load conditions for 41 consecutive days equates to more than 100,000 miles of real-world use, providing owners with the confidence that the 2017 Cadenza is built for the long haul.

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Press release

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