Monthly Archives: September 2016

The redesigned 2017 Kia Cadenza may be a small player but it has extra-large ambitions

Source: Daily News By Beverly Braga - August 26, 2016

2017 Kia Cadenza

Roughly 50 miles west of Washington, D.C.’s power suit gridlock lies Middleburg, Virginia, an historic town with a name referring to its founding location as a midway point between the Northern Virginia cities of Alexandria and Winchester. With a history steeped in stagecoaches and Civil War campaigns, Middleburg today is more middle-of-nowhere, a secluded destination for wine tasting, equestrian training, and celebrity hiding. And this escapist luxury enclave of fewer than 1,000 residents is where Kia decided to launch the second generation of its premium large sedan, the 2017 Cadenza.

Is this a bold move for the mass-market automaker? Not if you’ve been paying attention in automotive history class.

In 1994, Kia entered the U.S. market with two vehicles – the Sportage compact SUV and Sephia compact sedan. But like K-pop artists, a hometown hit doesn’t necessarily translate well in overseas markets, especially one as coveted yet hard-to-crack as North America. The Korean automaker was not without additional struggles, either, ranking a dismal bottom-of-the-barrel last in the 2001 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study (IQS).

Whether sparked by newfound determination or because the company was just too stubborn to fail, this year’s IQS presented a different result: Kia ranked on top for quality, marking the first time for a non-luxury automaker has led the study in 27 years. Who was in second place? Porsche.

Straightforward exterior elegance

2017 Kia Cadenza

A key element of Kia’s renaissance has been its willingness to take risks, and styling has received a significant portion of this dedicated effort. No longer would Kia be known for producing nondescript designs or failed mishmash imitations of existing cars (see: Amanti).

Enter Peter Schreyer, the design chief responsible for Audi’s art-on-wheels attitude. Since 2006, Schreyer has been instrumental in bringing Kia out of the design doldrums and into the award-winning spotlight. And in a segment full of snooze-worthy shapes, the all-new Cadenza is distinctly photo-shoot-ready.

Current automotive design themes generally employ sinuous curves to create their visual appeal, but Kia is following a straight-line approach to styling. Literally. Schreyer’s design philosophy emphasizing the “simplicity of the straight line” is clearly evident in the redesigned 2017 Kia Cadenza. Spanning the length of the new Cadenza, this linear detail is linked with Z-shaped lighting patterns in the headlights and taillights, creating a crisp, elegant look as opposed to the frequently overcompensating character lines of other brands.

Another neat yet subtle detail is the new “piano key” lighting elements of the LED taillights, which create impressive visual depth and pair nicely with the Z-shaped lighting signatures. Plus, because it is lower, wider and lengthier than the car it replaces, the all-new Cadenza’s profile is even more composed.

Even though the Cadenza’s length remains the same at 195.7 inches, a 0.4-inch wheelbase growth spurt allows for nearly half an inch more legroom for rear passengers. Kia also extends the roofline more than two inches to improve overall rear seat space. Adding to the vehicle’s low-slung stoutness, a slight reduction in height and nearly an extra inch of width in the hips gives the Cadenza a more substantial and masculine appearance, even on the Snow White Pearl vehicle I tested.

What doesn’t quite work, at least some of the time, is the new “Intaglio” grille design used for the higher trim models. Featuring concave vertical blades, the grille’s snarl reminds me of Pennywise the Dancing Clown, star of Stephen King’s horror novel “It” and, thanks to the television mini-series based on the book, also of many 80s children’s nightmares (myself included).

Childhood traumas aside, the Cadenza is still an overall beautiful car, a standout in the full-size sedan segment. Just don’t expect me to park it near a sewer drain.

Legitimate interior luxury

2017 Kia Cadenza

The Cadenza’s interior, which Kia claims boasts the most passenger room of its segment at 107.8 cubic feet, receives a sophisticated redesign with higher quality materials, soft-touch surfaces and useable storage spaces throughout.

The leather-trimmed seats are roomy and, with the available height and travel adjustments, can suit people of all sorts of sizes. Standard only on the Limited trim level, premium Nappa leather seats feature new diamond-quilted seat bolsters, which look fantastic in the also-new-for-2017 dark brown interior color. (Pretty much any color, really.) Kia’s designers certainly score beaucoup luxury points with this high-end detail.

Though the wraparound dashboard appears expansive, reaching for control knobs or tapping the infotainment display screen is never a stretch. The center control panel is uncluttered and outfitted with a standard 7-inch color display with a rearview camera in lower trim levels, while higher trim levels receive the larger 8-inch touchscreen with a navigation system. All Cadenzas come with Kia’s UVO infotainment technology as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone projection systems. And with available wireless smartphone charging, may boredom never be your road trip buddy.

As is the Kia way, the all-new Cadenza offers a myriad of premium standard features regarding comfort, technology and safety. Numerous optional adds are also available, from a 630-watt Harman Kardon 12-speaker surround sound system to the Kia-first Smart Blind Spot Detection system, which, when sensing unintentional drifting toward an adjacent vehicle, will automatically brake the opposite-side front wheel to keep the Cadenza centered its intended lane.

Sporty stance does not equate sporty handling

Especially when its competitive set includes the Toyota Avalon, you can hold no preconceived notions that the 2017 Kia Cadenza is a sports sedan. Still, I couldn’t help but hope for a bit more fun behind the wheel from the brand which now offers turbocharged engines alongside its dancing hamsters. Now that I’ve spent some quality time in the Cadenza’s driver’s seat, it looks like settling for the car’s sophisticated handling will just have to do.

All Cadenzas feature a 3.3-liter V6 engine producing 290 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 253 pound-feet of torque at 5,200 rpm. Paired with a new 8-speed automatic transmission, the 2017 Cadenza is estimated to get 23 mpg in mixed driving. And whether rolling on the standard 18-inch alloys or optional 19-inch versions, the Cadenza will still look striking during every fuel stop.

Compared to the new Buick LaCrosse, the other redesigned full-size car arriving for 2017, the Cadenza was just as composed on meandering streets and highways but more resistant to carving curves. Unlike the Buick, the Kia felt somewhat heavier to steer the tighter the corner. While not necessarily unhappy about being hustled, the Cadenza wasn’t exactly thrilled when pushed, either.

One goofy thing both my co-driver and I experienced was unintentionally hitting the steering wheel-mounted controls. More than once, he changed the vehicle information screen displaying the odometer and trip (which we needed to navigate the drive route), while I made unplanned wake-up calls to friends still snoozing in their respective time zones. Perhaps the buttons are a tad too sensitive.

The ride itself was exceptionally smooth and as quiet as a library in a retirement community. The 8-speed automatic transmission shifted with little complaint and such driver-assistance aids, like the Advanced Smart Cruise Control, proved unobtrusive. For example, I forgot the cruise control system was even on because when downshifting and braking to accommodate for slower traffic ahead, the vehicle did not shudder, lurch or do anything glaringly noticeable as it automatically made speed adjustments.

Drivers and riders alike will have few, if any, objections to the Cadenza’s suspension tuning and structural rigidity. Feel free to take the long way home, or to embark on an impromptu road trip. Just set a timer to remind yourself to take a break as you could end up so comfortable that you forget to stop and stretch.

The new challenger turned steady competitor

2017 Kia Cadenza

On sale in October of 2016, the 2017 Kia Cadenza will again be offered in three trim levels – Premium, Technology and Limited – with an estimated starting price of $32,000. Surprisingly, that sum is nearly $1,000 less than the outgoing model. Final pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date but expect the Technology and Limited models to be priced around $39,000 and $44,000, respectively. Destination charges will be an additional $895.

Not long ago, Kia vehicles were unimpressive, indistinguishable, virtually invisible copycat cars to which few consumers paid much attention. Those days are long gone, a fact made more apparent with the introduction of each new and redesigned model. The 2017 Kia Cadenza is merely the latest example of the company’s hard-fought effort to reinvent itself, and consumers will only continue to benefit as the automaker writes each new chapter of its history.

2017 Kia Cadenza Limited First Review

Source: Kelley Blue Book By Keith Buglewicz - August 22, 2016 For a market segment that's handily overshadowed by a number of other comfy, $40,000-ish conveyances, there certainly are a lot of full-size sedans out there. Beyond our Best Buy winner Chevrolet Impala, there's the Toyota Avalon, Nissan Maxima, Hyundai Azera, and Ford Taurus. You can even include the Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 if you like, even though they're bringing rear-drive to a front-drive party. There's also the Kia Cadenza, a car that hasn't exactly lit sales charts on fire in the three years it has been available. Yet after finding 28,000 happy homes for its first-generation Cadenza, Kia felt that there was enough interest in the big-but-not-really-luxury-sedan market to continue the model, and has introduced the second-generation 2017 Kia Cadenza to the market. Sedan lovers will be happy The 2017 Kia Cadenza isn't a segment-redefining car by any stretch. Rather, it reminds us most of the Impala: It takes the best of the brand it represents, packages it into a large four-door sedan, and puts it out there for a reasonable-but-not-cheap price. The new Cadenza's compelling blend of big-sedan features -- comfort, style, refinement, technology, and space, especially rear seat space...wow -- is sure to attract big sedan lovers, and maybe even a few who might otherwise consider a crossover SUV. Imagine the old Kia Cadenza went to fat camp, and you have the 2017 Cadenza. Previously handsome but forgettable, the new Cadenza boasts several eye-catching elements. The revised "tiger nose" design features a concave grille with one of two inserts, depending on model. It's flanked by multi-element headlights and quad-lens fog lights below, at least on the Limited models we drove. Z-shaped LED lights accentuate the profile at both ends, blending into a shoulder line that runs across the upper part of the doors and fenders. It splits the difference between the smaller, edgy Optima sedan, while implying the premium experience of the larger luxury-class Kia K900. Two-level dash The interior benefits from a two-level dash, with "things you look at" on top -- gauges and infotainment screen -- and "things you press" below. Kia goofs by putting the climate controls directly under the infotainment screen -- it should be the infotainment controls -- but otherwise it's a smart, comfortable, and upscale design. The gauges, controls, and switchgear all look and feel high-end, with touches like the diamond pattern on the seat bolsters giving an impression of luxury. But the Cadenza isn't trying to punch above its weight, and is perfectly happy to be a premium Kia sedan, like a "super Optima." One important point: If this class of car were judged solely by back seat room, the Cadenza would be a clear winner. There's ample headroom, tons of legroom, and the floor is mostly flat, meaning there's not much of a hump in the center of the floor for a middle-seat passenger to contend with. The drive Our route took us through Virginia horse country around Middleburg, Virginia, and on into the area surrounding the Shenandoah Valley. "Spectacular" is a nice summary of the scenery, and "oppressive" equally summarizing the humidity to my California-based weather sensibilities. Yet somehow between fallen trees blocking the road, vultures eyeing us hungrily as they stood on the pavement, and even a random bear sighting, we actually were able to evaluate the car itself. Under the hood of the 2017 Cadenza is Kia's tried-and-true 3.3-liter V6, putting out 290 horsepower and 253 lb-ft of torque. It's connected to a new Kia-designed 8-speed automatic transmission making its debut here. The suspension is an evolution of the previous generation setup, adding sophisticated shock absorbers that use what Kia calls Amplitude Selective Damping. The idea is that they adjust to different conditions, and combined with an internal Hydraulic Rebound Stopper, makes the most of the new car's stiffer structure to smooth the ride over harsh surfaces. The electrically assisted steering raised a red flag when we found out the assist was on the column and not the rack, a layout that usually results in an artificial feel and a tendency to wander on highways. Yet those fears were quashed when we hit the road. The steering is actually better than fine, offering good effort in corners, and very good straight-line stability. The engine possesses plenty of gusto and the new 8-speed transmission provides for either robust acceleration or relaxed cruising, depending on the driver's right foot. The composed and comfortable suspension benefited from mostly smooth pavement on our route, but it handled long stretches of Interstate and tight twisting sections through the Shenandoah with equal ease. Kia doesn't bill the Cadenza as a sport sedan, despite shift paddles on the steering wheel and selectable driving mode function that includes "Sport." Yet keeping that in mind, the big Cadenza felt at home on the two-lane highways we encountered, although it is clearly more in its element when cruising long stretches of open road. Plenty of tech As for technology, there's Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and an excellent Harman/Kardon audio system that blew our ears away. The cruise control and blind spot warnings all worked well, although we never felt a "nudge" from the advanced blind spot system that will actively prevent you from switching lanes into another car. Interestingly there's no lane-keeping assist function, just a lane drift warning that, on our car at least, was set way too sensitive; we'll chalk it up to early-production calibration. Prices for the 2017 Cadenza will start around $33,000 for a base Premium model, and up to the mid-$40,000 range for a loaded Limited. It's a solidly priced and highly competitive car in a segment that, while not as popular as it once was, still has its fans. With more cars like the Cadenza, that fan base could very well grow.

Review: 2016 Kia Optima is retooled and punches above its price-point

Source : The Globe and Mail – August 01, 2016

The recently-launched second-generation Kia Optima is a clean-sheet re-do of the original that advances on all fronts to, once again, take a place as a convincing choice in a highly-attainable, high-style family sedan.

Daring sculpts, big dual exhausts, bold lines, and Kia’s signature tiger-nose grille, flanked by bi-xenon headlamps, help set the Optima apart. The body is rich with detail, including numerous touches that could do double-duty in a pricier ride.

It’s a similar story on board. Occupants are surrounded by stitching, quilted leather, modern interfaces, and trim materials of various colours, textures and lustres, layered one over the next. Attention to detail is apparent throughout in a cabin that generates a luxurious, formal, high-tech, and uniquely modern atmosphere.

Feature content in the top-line tester included a massive panoramic sunroof, a potent Harman Kardon stereo, and a big, bright central command screen underlined with logical tactile buttons for easy navigation through hundreds of functions. Control interfaces spill down onto the centre console, with various controls placed around the shifter, like a Lexus or BMW.

The suspension sees a layer of softness dialled in around mildly-stiff shocks, for responsive handling and a comfortable ride. Optima neither floats nor crashes into bumps and potholes, preferring instead to absorb them with minimal upset, minimal noise, and a feel of durability. It’s notably stable when tossed around on empty back roads: it’s laid-back, comfortable, and capable. The steering is smooth with no harshness transmitted back to the driver, and is light and lazy at low speeds for easy manoeuvrability in tight quarters.

Even generously-sized adults should find space to spare up front, with numerous at-hand storage implements, cupholders and cubbies close by. Power outlets, even wireless recharging technology are within easy reach, too. Rear seats are spacious where legroom and width are concerned, though headroom is tight for taller passengers. The trunk is extra deep, largely square, and can easily handle a week’s worth of shopping.

Optima’s top-level 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder generates 245 horsepower, 30 less than last year’s model. Torque output is generous, and the less-powerful engine still flings the Optima along with urgency when called upon, though the turbocharger gets into its game more slowly, and with less ferocity than before. Mileage on my watch, including plenty of highway cruising, landed at a respectable 9.5 litres/100 km.

On the other hand, paddle shifting isn’t responsive or quick enough to warrant much use. And the brakes are powerful, but lack any meaningful feel at the pedal, which itself feels like it’s connected to a cinder block. Finally, given the luxury look of the cabin, the ride could be quieter.

Ultimately though, the Optima is a comfortable, well-equipped family sedan that punches well above its weight.

You’ll like this car if ... rich styling, an upscale cabin, advanced features, and a well-sorted ride top your new-car wish-list.

TECH SPECS

  • Base price: $23,695; as tested: $38,129
  • Engine: 2.0-litre GDI Turbo four-cylinder
  • Transmission/Drive: Six-speed automatic with paddle-shift/Front-wheel drive
  • Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 10.9 city, 7.4 highway, regular fuel
  • Alternatives: Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion, Toyota Corolla, Nissan Altima, Hyundai Sonata, Mazda6, Honda Accord, Subaru Legacy

RATINGS

  • Looks: Optima is one of the market’s most distinctive and instantly-recognizable family sedans – and is packed full of visual details and drama that form a rich, sophisticated look.
  • Interior: Trim and accents are well used toward an upscale look, and the cabin is roomy, offers plentiful storage, and is largely logical in layout.
  • Performance: Performance is pleasing, though a syrupy steering feel and poor brake feel may leave driving enthusiasts wanting.
  • Technology: The Optima offers a collection of must-have features, including wireless recharging, radar cruise control, a 360-degree camera system, and navigation.
  • Cargo: The Optima’s trunk is deep, wide, largely square, and ready to accept camping supplies for a two-person weekend getaway with ease.

THE VERDICT

8.5

A top-line Optima SX-L amounts to a luxurious, well-equipped and efficient family sedan with world-class styling and a reasonable price-tag. Where style, feature content and comfort are concerned, it’s a compelling value.