• 2017 Kia Cadenza
  • 2017 Kia Cadenza
  • 2017 Kia Cadenza concept

Road Test: 2017 Kia Cadenza Limited

Kia’s Premium Full-size Sedan

If you want a full-size car, the options are getting slimmer by the year. With SUVs, crossovers and trucks leading the way as the most popular categories, the once all-mighty large sedan is losing its appeal. But we found a good one that may not be on everyone’s radar.

So, when Clean Fleet Report was handed the keys to a 2017 Kia Cadenza Limited, even if the Cadenza’s fuel economy is not in the 35+ mpg range, we jumped at the chance. Why? Simple, because you, our readers, have a broad interest in cars, trucks, SUVs and crossovers and occasionally want information on a vehicle that may not get the highest fuel economy in its class, but one that suits other needs for your lifestyle.

Drivetrain and Performance

Clean Fleet Report recently reviewed the 2017 Kia K900 luxury sedan and now wanted to take a look at the all-new 2017 Kia Cadenza Limited. The Cadenza, dollar-for-dollar, is a worthy alternative to other premium large sedans like the Chrysler 300 or Dodge Charger, arguably even its larger K900 sibling.

2017 Kia Cadenza

Full-size near luxury and full tech

Clean Fleet Report drove the front-wheel drive Cadenza Limited, powered by a 3.3-liter V6 engine, producing 290 horsepower and 253 pounds-feet of torque, through an eight-speed automatic transmission with Sportmatic and paddle shifters. The engine was smooth and the transmission seamless, both in-town and on freeway driving. EPA fuel economy estimates are 20 city/28 highway/23 combined miles per gallon. In 271 miles of freeway and city driving, we averaged 27.1 mpg. However, on two, 100-mile open freeway runs, using Kia’s Advanced Smart Cruise Control (standard on the Limited trim level) set to 65 mph, we averaged an impressive 32.2 mpg. This shows that if judicious driving is employed, even a full-size sedan weighing in at 3,800 lbs. can get respectable fuel economy.

In a few unscientific acceleration runs using the Sport driving mode setting, the Cadenza traveled 0–60 in about 6.8 seconds, which is competitive with others in the full-size sedan class. During lane passes at highway speeds and climbing hills, the eight-speed automatic shifted up-and-down seamlessly and precisely.

Driving Experience: On the Road

Coming in at just under two tons, the Cadenza performed as expected–it was not necessarily fun or exciting. Being fair to Kia, the sleek design may lead one to believe that the Cadenza is more nimble than it is, maybe even sporty. There are three drive modes: Comfort, Eco and Sport, with the settings providing subtle differences in steering responses, but more-so in the throttle. However, with no adaptive damping, they do not affect the suspension, which sort of makes the Sport mode not so sporty. The Cadenza is first and foremost designed to be a comfortable car, so doing anything too radical is not happening.

2017 Kia Cadenza

It’s the limo treatment in back

The 2017 Kia Cadenza only felt heavy when entering a corner a bit too hard, but even then body lean was at a minimum. Kia says for 2017 they have retooled the shock dampening for a smoother ride over broken or harsh surfaces, and the Cadenza’s lateral stiffness has been improved. The confident handling and ride were aided by the 19-inch Michelin tires, stability and traction control systems, and front independent MacPherson struts and a rear multi-link suspension. Stopping was straight and true with no fading from the four-wheel disc, ABS system.

The electronic power-assisted steering was a bit light, but gave an acceptable balance between a premium highway ride and confident cornering. The ride never was floaty, nor required corrections to stay between the lines.

Driving Experience: Exterior

Only a few short years ago Kia showed a concept car that was possibly the second-generation Cadenza. We were teased, not expecting the production Cadenza would look anything like the concept. Well, Kia was being pretty straight with us as the car you can buy today is very true to the concept.

All-new for 2017, the Cadenza came out of Kia’s California design studio that also is the home for the just-released 2018 Kia Stinger sports sedan. Kia says the “Cadenza’s high-end image exudes confidence and modernity.” No argument from Clean Fleet Report as we find the Cadenza to be a very nicely designed full-size sedan.

The Concept

2017 Kia Cadenza

The real deal–not far off

Part of the Cadenza being all-new for 2017 is that it is lower and wider than the previous model. The smooth and sleek lines are not bothered by unnecessary ridges, bumps or sharp angles. Chrome has been kept to an absolute minimum with accent pieces along the door/rocker panel line, trunk lid and dual rectangular exhaust tips. The roofline has a sweep that runs to an integrated spoiler on a short trunk lid. Up front, Kia’s signature “tiger nose” grill is concave and more hexagonal than the previous model. Our Limited had an Intaglio grill, featuring vertical blades. The “Z-shaped” front and rear LED lighting design are very attractive.

There is nothing conservative about the Cadenza. It is modern, just like Kia promised.

Driving Experience: Interior

The interior is so nice that in comparison with others in its class, the Cadenza is a notch-up. Whether it’s the soft-touch materials or the attention to detail, the Cadenza Limited’s interior is a very welcoming place. Wind and road noise were at a minimum, due in part to the 0.28 coefficient of drag (Cd), the additional insulation in the A-pillars and floor and the acoustic absorbing laminate in the front windows and windshield. All this led to a reduced NVH (Noise, Vibration, Harshness) for 2017.

2017 Kia Cadenza

The Nappa-lined interior

The Limited’s interior seems to be covered everywhere in soft, supple Nappa leather, with all seats having quilting. Aluminum trim pieces and accents were in just the right places, and the wood-grain trim on the door panels was tasteful.

The five-passenger seating dares you to not find a comfortable seating position. The driver seat is 14-way power adjustable (with four-way lumbar) and the front passenger seat gets 10-way power adjustments. The front seats are heated and ventilated; the outboard rear seats are also heated. With the rear power sunshade and the manual rear side window shades deployed, your passengers will feel like true VIPs. When folded, the center rear seat armrest (which also is a ski pass-through) includes cup holders.

The driver has three display areas; the head-up display which appears on the windshield just above the steering wheel; the color, LCD information cluster located behind the heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel; and the center dash-mounted eight-inch full-color display with navigation, rear camera and the home for Kia’s UVO eServices, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

2017 Kia Cadenza

The tech resides here

The 12-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system, with 630 watts of power and a subwoofer, envelops you in sound. It came with SiriusXM (three-month trial subscription), AM/FM/HD/CD/MP3, USB port with iPod connectivity, Aux-in jacks, Bluetooth streaming audio and hands-free telephone. The voice recognition system, used for placing calls and other commands, was as good as any I have tested. Add in the Homelink auto-dimming rearview mirror and compass for more convenience and safety.

Other nice interior features of the 2017 Kia Cadenza Limited are the panoramic sunroof, dual-zone climate control, power tilt and telescoping steering column, push-button start/stop, smart key, rain-sensing windshield wipers, power folding and heated outside mirrors, power trunk closing and power soft-closing door latches. The trunk has a nice feature of unlatching automatically if the key fob is within a short range for more than three seconds.

Safety and Convenience

Standard and optional safety and convenience features for the 2017 Cadenza include nine air bags, remote keyless entry, tire pressure monitoring system, forward collision warning, blind spot detection, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert and rear parking assist.

The Cadenza has radar technology enabling Advanced Smart Cruise Control and Autonomous Emergency Braking System. When used together, they help maintain a safe speed with the car in front and can bring the Cadenza to an unassisted complete stop. This is one of the features that will be standard on automated cars, and technology I found to be especially valuable in stop-and-go, rush-hour traffic. Because, once set, it is not necessary to apply the brakes or touch the accelerator mile after mile after mile in zero-to-10-mile per hour speeds. The last step will be autonomous steering, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

For parking lot safety, the Cadenza has Kia’s Surround View Monitor System, which is four small, wide-angle cameras that are strategically placed to provide a down and outward view, surrounding the car. When parking, these views appear on the full-color LCD screen and are extremely helpful to reveal objects that could easily be hit.

Pricing and Warranties

The 2017 Kia Cadenza comes in three models with these base prices.

2017 Kia Cadenza


Premium                $31,990

Technology           $38,990

Limited                  $44,390

All prices listed do not include the $900 freight and handling charge.




The Cadenza comes with these warranties.

Powertrain                 10 years/100,000 miles

Basic                            Five years/60,000 miles

Roadside Assistance  Five years/60,000 miles

Observations: 2017 Kia Cadenza Limited

Considering the 2017 Kia Cadenza to be a “driver’s car” is pushing it a bit. But it comes close, considering this is a full-size, large sedan designed to seat five adults comfortably. The looming question is how many models in or near this size can/will Kia keep in their line-up.

2017 Kia Cadenza

The end Z

The Kia Optima, K900 and the Cadenza all offer similar utility as five-passenger sedans. The K900 is larger and more luxurious than the Cadenza, but not by much. Plus, as we noted in our K900 review, that model is way overdue for a complete rethink. For the fuel economy-minded, there are the smaller Optima Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid models.

Clean Fleet Report suggests for those of you looking for a large sedan that provides luxurious treatments and all the advanced safety technology, then the 2017 Kia Cadenza is a top choice. You will not go wrong.

Whatever you buy, Happy Driving!

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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

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About Author: John Faulkner

John Faulkner is an automotive marketing professional with more than 30 years experience branding, launching and marketing automobiles. He has worked with General Motors (all Divisions), Chrysler (Dodge, Jeep, Eagle), Ford and Lincoln-Mercury, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota on consumer events and sales training programs. His interest in automobiles is broad and deep, beginning as a child riding in the back seat of his parent's 1950 Studebaker. He has a keen appreciation of Art Deco design, no bias for domestic versus foreign makes and loves competition - whether that be F1, IndyCar, Sports Cars, NASCAR or participating in Track Days at places such as Laguna Seca, Thunderhill or Willow Springs. John lives in Dana Point, CA, and enjoys a top-down drive on PCH on an early Sunday morning.

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