• 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
- image 670476
2017 Kia Cadenza High Resolution Exterior
- image 670477
2017 Kia Cadenza High Resolution Exterior
- image 670474

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
- image 670469

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
- image 670471

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
- image 670470

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
- image 580028

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
- image 506850

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
- image 670468

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
- image 619313
2017 Kia Cadenza Exterior Spyshots
- image 619306
2017 Kia Cadenza Exterior Spyshots
- image 619312
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

Related Articles

2020 Kia Cadenza

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: