Category Archives: Cadenza Articles

2018 Kia Cadenza

Source: Car and Driver
Date: March 24th, 2018
Author: DREW DORIAN

2018-kia-cadenza-in-depth-model-review-car-and-driver-photo-700651-s-original

2018 Kia Cadenza

Quietly exceeding expectations of label snobs everywhere.

Overall Rating: 

Kia’s Cadenza is a compelling choice in a shrinking segment. For those who prefer sedans to SUVs, it not only represents a solid value but also provides near-luxury features throughout its model range. Inside its well-built cabin is room for four adults to stretch out in comfort, and the luxe features only get better the further up its range you climb. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard features, and highly sought-after active safety tech—automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and more—is provided as standard on the midrange Technology trim and the top-spec Limited. That the Cadenza wears a handsome and upscale design is icing on the automotive cake.

HIGHS
Intuitive infotainment system, technology-heavy equipment list, generous warranty.
LOWS
Tepid acceleration, lackluster braking performance, limited cargo flexibility.
VERDICT
The Cadenza is a high-tech haven for the upper-middle-class sedan buyer.

What’s New for 2018?

Kia saw fit to make just one change to the Cadenza lineup for 2018: Last year’s Panoramic Sunroof package (a large glass sunroof, power sunshade, and LED interior lighting) is now part of the Luxury package on the base Premium trim instead of being a separate $1000 option. The big glass roof is still standard on Technology and Limited trims.

What Was New for 2017?

The Cadenza was all new for 2017, marking Kia’s sophomore effort for a full-size near-luxury car. Completely redesigned from bumper to bumper, the sharper Cadenza features a sleeker interior and modern technologies such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and an available head-up display. The 3.3-liter V-6 engine was retuned for better fuel economy and paired to a new eight-speed automatic transmission. For the first time, the Cadenza offers a full suite of active safety technology.

Trims and Options We’d Choose

We chose the midrange Technology trim last year, and we’d hold steady on that recommendation for 2018 as well. This year’s build is priced at $40,190 and calls up many modern and luxury items that attract buyers in this segment, including:

• Panoramic sunroof
• 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment with navigation
• 12-speaker Harman/Kardon audio
• Proximity approach lighting

All of the Cadenza’s active safety technologies also come as standard on this midrange trim and on the top-spec Limited model.

2017 Kia Cadenza: 5 Reasons to Buy


author photo by Jabari Jones November 2016


These days, you can find an upscale car at a fraction of the prices of top European brands. A great way to do this is with the restyled 2017 Kia Cadenza, as it can hold its own against some big players. Here are our five reasons you’ll save big with this luxurious Kia.

Comfortable Cabin

The Cadenza’s cabin really does feel elegant and rich. The rear seats are comfortable and spacious, and the same goes for up front. Not to mention you can get premium touches like a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel or even the diamond-stitched seat bolsters that are optional on the SXL trim level. On road trips, the roomy 16-cu-ft. trunk is more than enough for a family vacation load.

Intelligent Tech

No one can deny that top luxury brands have smart innovative technology, but don’t leave Kia out of that discussion. The Kia UVO infotainment system has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and for the most part is pretty functional. In addition, you can get the UVO eServices system, which offers roadside assistance and other really useful functions in a downloadable smartphone app instead of requiring you to pay a hefty monthly subscription charge, which is the case for quite a few luxury brands.

Smooth Engine

We have to be honest: The Cadenza isn’t going to overwhelm you with power, but with 290 horses on tap, it has more than enough for most driving needs. We especially love how smooth this 8-speed automatic transmission is. Kia gave it a 3.3-liter V6, which definitely has a luxurious feel, especially if you select Comfort mode.

Attractive Styling

Talk about an upscale look — the Cadenza exudes an upscale vibe from A-Z. It has received a few adjustments to the exterior. The result just enhances what’s already a beautiful car. A new front grille and a lower and wider stance give it a little more aggressiveness. There are also the cool standard Z-shaped LED’s and a frame that is much lighter thanks to a special high-strength steel.

Premium Features

Kia outfitted the Cadenza very well in standard form. Just the start of a long list is this semi-user-friendly 7-inch screen. Some cool options include a beautiful panoramic sunroof and this awesome Harman Kardon premium sound system. You can also opt for reassuring innovative safety features like lane-departure warning and even adaptive cruise control.

Autotrader Says

Are you looking for a luxury feel but don’t want to pay an arm and a leg? Then look no further: The beautiful and elegant 2017 Kia Cadenza is certainly worth a spot on your test-drive list.

2017 Kia Cadenza: Best Car to Buy Nominee

Source: The Car Connection by Andrew Ganz – October 18, 2016

The 2017 Kia Cadenza isn’t by any means the brand’s first outing into the luxury car world, but it’s certainly the brand’s best effort yet. A near facsimile of what Lexus used to offer, the Cadenza doesn’t necessarily advance the luxury game—but it does prove that the Korean automaker’s push upmarket is here to stay.

It would be easy to fault Kia for its lack of focus in moving upscale. The first Cadenza looked good, but in an oversized Optima sort of way. And then the K900 popped up, boasting a big V-8, rear-wheel drive, and a decidedly mid-1990s feel. You’ll score 1,000 points in automotive bingo if you spot a K900 on the road (driving by a Kia dealer doesn’t count).

DON’T MISS: Our 2017 Kia Cadenza expert review

2017 Kia Cadenza
2017 Kia Cadenza

But let’s talk about the Cadenza a little longer. Outside, it’s an evolution of its predecessor in profile, but the difference is in the details. The 2017’s grille, for instance, is intricate and convex, and it mates well with the sedan’s complex headlamps and foursquare fog lamps.

Inside, there’s no reminder that this company used to build the dour Sephia. Even the Premium is well outfitted with leather seats (power and heated up front) and a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system. But it’s the Technology model that represents supreme value with a host of safety tech headlined by automatic high beam LED headlamps, automatic emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control, as well as air conditioned seats and a wireless cell phone charger for right around $40,000.

2017 Kia Cadenza
2017 Kia Cadenza

Under the Cadenza’s hood sits a largely unchanged 3.3-liter V-6 rated at 290 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque, figures down a bit from before but compensated for thanks to a new 8-speed automatic transmission offering two more gears than last year. The 8-speed was designed internally by Kia and its parent company, Hyundai, and it’s a winner in this application.

It’s not a sedan that will stoke the flame for enthusiasts, but the Cadenza’s sophisticated feel and quiet, refined demeanor mean that it’s a serious contender for The Car Connection’s Best Car to Buy 2017. 

2017 Kia Cadenza – This time, it’s more than a stake in the ground.

Source: Car and Driver by Steve Siler – September 2016

 

The very idea of a Kia luxury sedan seemed utterly ridiculous as recently as 2012, just before the original Cadenza appeared, raising eyebrows as the Korean brand put what it considered a first stake in the ground in the luxury sphere. But as we took our first spin in the second-generation 2017 Cadenza and adjusted the gap distance for the radar cruise control, no one was impressed with the fact that a Kia even had radar cruise control. Rather, we simply tested its newfound stop-and-go capability—as well as lane-departure mitigation and many other electro-nannies—just as we would if it were a Lexus ES350, a Lincoln MKZ, or a Buick LaCrosse. This near-luxury-sedan segment remains fiercely competitive even as total sales slacken against the rise of plushly trimmed crossover vehicles.

So, yeah, the idea of Kia doing luxury is no longer novel. The Cadenza is not even the fanciest Kia now that the big, rear-drive K900 exists. But the 2017 Cadenza is not just a car stuffed with nice things, it’s a car that puts those nice things together in a harmonious way—you know, like luxury brands do. Whereas the first Cadenza felt a little wobbly in its fancy heels, this one has caught its stride.

 

Prettiest Kia Ever?

Much of the positive impression can be attributed to Kia’s exterior design language as curated by Hyundai/Kia global design chief Peter Schreyer. Few of the brand’s cars wear it as well as the new Cadenza. No longer looking like an engorged Optima, the new model takes a strong stance with tall, clean body panels (made of heavier-gauge, more dent-resistant steel, says Kia), sizable fender flares, and a high, ducktail trunk. Kia’s signature “tiger nose” grille now stretches into the headlamps, which, like the taillamps, feature Z-shaped LED accents. The steep windshield leads into a longer, more rearward-set greenhouse with new trapezoidal rear quarter-windows that recall those of the 2017 Volvo S90. Indeed, there’s enough Volvo S90 both in the linear body sides and side-window graphic, not to mention the concave slats of the elegant “Intaglio” grille of mid- and top-tier trim levels, that one wonders if Schreyer has a mole in Gothenburg.

The sense of elegance continues inside. Our test car arrived with the “White package,” one of four available décor themes. The package includes ivory-colored, diamond-quilted leather seats that feel as supple as those in a Mercedes-Benz S550, set dramatically within an all-black backdrop of carpets, dash and door panels, and even black pearlescent wood grain. The pillars and roof are lined in a bone-colored faux suede. Comfort: Check. Sense of occasion: Double check.

If you happen to get in back, prepare to enjoy some real spread-out room—seriously, it’s huge—and a great view up through the panoramic sunroof that’s standard issue on Technology and SXL models. Kia knows what this segment wants and made the rear seat a big priority, giving it 0.4 inch more legroom than before, sculpted seatbacks, USB and 12-volt power ports, and, on SXL models, outboard seat heaters and power sunshades for the side glass and rear window. It lacks only rear-seat climate controls to tick all the boxes in a feature comparison with the segment stalwarts.

The Cadenza’s confines deserve praise; its interior design and execution are nicer than that in the Cadillac CT6, a much pricier car that is let down a little by its interior. The Kia’s gorgeous leather, well-laid-out controls, and easy-to-learn button arrangement all earn high marks. The 8.0-inch center screen seemed small to some, although it’s the same size as the frameless one that takes center stage in the latest Buick LaCrosse, a key competitor. Nothing seems cheap except for the piano-black finish on the center console, which showed some scratches on a car with just 1800 miles or so on its odometer, scars that don’t bode well for its long-term durability.

Driving: More of the Same

Driving the Cadenza generates less enthusiasm. It is powered by the same direct-injected 3.3-liter V-6 as the outgoing model, although now it’s down slightly from 293 horsepower and 255 lb-ft of torque to 290 horses and 253 lb-ft. It pairs with Kia’s new eight-speed automatic transmission. The engine is powerful enough and not noisy, but it’s not quiet enough to be remarkable in this segment.

On the road, the 2017 model behaves much like the original Cadenza, with the new,in-house-developed eight-speed transmission adding little discernible sharpness to the shifts but taking nothing away from its overall tranquility. The available drive-mode selector did elicit a few “Now what’s that doing here?” responses and barely livened up the car’s reflexes in Sport mode. If the new transmission was a fuel-economy play, it didn’t do much; the EPA city rating rises from 19 mpg to 20 mpg year-over-year, while the 28-mpg highway rating stays the same.

More central to this car than quick acceleration are its heavenly ride and hushed interior, so we were pleased to find that lumpy rural two-lanes were ironed into gentle ribbons by a suspension that absorbs pretty much everything. If there’s a dynamic benchmark Kia was after here, it may be the Lexus ES350, which is not anyone’s idea of a serious driver’s car. The Kia is silky smooth, while the well-isolated steering is vague and overboosted but better than that of the previous Cadenza. Handling limits are easy to find by listening for the squealing protestations of the tires, which occur early and often on a twisty road, even with the SXL’s large, dark-satin 19-inch wheels and attendant low-profile rubber. The brakes proved adequate, with excellent pedal feel for those perfect chauffeur stops.

The 2017 Cadenza hits dealerships in late October or early November. Final pricing will be announced just before that, but we know the base Cadenza will start right around $33,000, with the mid-grade Technology package available for about $40,000 and the loaded SXL—also called Limited—coming in at less than $45,000. Beyond the price, this is a car that never could have emerged in Kia’s early years: a bona fide near-luxury sedan that can hold its own next to the admittedly benign competitors. If the original Cadenza was a stake in the ground, the new car proves that it was planted in fertile soil.

2017 Kia Cadenza: Adding A Touch Of Elegance To A Muted Segment

Source: Forbes by Karl Brauer – August 31, 2016

2017 Kia Cadenza

Kia has launched its bold new full-size Cadenza sedan into a muted segment that has been suppressed by defection to SUVs and crossovers. According to Kelley Blue Book, the segment has been on a steady decline with the category’s new car activity decreasing five percent in July (compared to the same period last year). Nevertheless, the timing of the Cadenza launch could not have come soon enough, as the four-door has been trailing its competitors for a series of months, and its share of activity comprised less than two percent of the total segment in July.

After four years of manufacturing vehicles in the United States, Kia has signaled to the media and consumers that it was taking the brand to the next level. In 2013, the company launched the first-generation Cadenza, which marked a new era for the brand, and it created an opportunity for the brand to compete outside of its traditional segments.

While many full-size sedan competitors such as Chevrolet Impala, Toyota Avalon, and Nissan Maxima remain top-of-mind, Cadenza’s luxury appeal warrants shopper looks from the likes of Buick LaCrosse, Lexus ES and Lincoln MKZ, to name a few.

2017 Kia Cadenza

The new Cadenza, which was designed at Kia’s California studio, adopted some changes that will help set it apart, but conceptually the changes do not drift far from the origins of the first-generation Cadenza. One of the most notable exterior changes is the evolution of the signature ‘tiger nose’ grille. There are two different grille inserts, which include diamond butterfly and Intaglio (a vertical pattern), which are standard on the two higher trim models.

In addition to the new grille, the layout of the front fog lamps deliver a unique look that help to deliver the “sophisticated simplicity” that Ray Ng, the Cadenza’s principle exterior designer, describes. There’s no question that the new Cadenza looks sleek “It’s like a tailored athlete, stretching the sheet metal like a fitted shirt,” said Ng. Most of the bells and whistles come standard, but for a buyer who is looking for additional features, the higher trims offer standard 19-inch Alloy wheels, LED headlights, LED front fog lights, puddle lamps, panoramic sunroof with power sunshade and auto rain sensing windshield wipers.

2017 Kia Cadenza

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.

How to afford champagne tastes on a beer-league budget – Kia Cadenza

You can buy an all-wheel-drive Mercedes-Benz CLA compact sedan for $36,800 – all 208 horsepower of it and sporting the three-pointed star on the hood. Certainly the right brand for the brand-conscious buyer.

Or you could buy a 311-hp, mid-size Hyundai Genesis with AWD. When the CLA and the Genesis are uniformly equipped – anything standard on one is added to the other when available – the Genesis has a $3,305 price advantage.

That is, to get the CLA up to speed with the Genesis, you’ll need to add more than $9,000 in options. The Hyundai might be an option for the less-than-brand-conscious buyer who wants a ride with the look of luxury, but shies away from the price tag.

Mercedes will say its brand is a powerhouse and it could not be more correct. Interbrand ranks Mercedes No. 2 among all automotive brands (behind Toyota) and No. 10 among all global brands. Mercedes has earned its place based on financial performance, influence on customer choice, and price and earning strength. Merc is a powerhouse.

Hyundai, by contrast, is the No. 40 overall global brand and No. 7 among auto brands, just behind Ford but ahead of Audi. No one would reasonably argue that the Hyundai brand is as muscular as Mercedes, but no one is kicking sand in Hyundai’s face any longer, either. And the Genesis by any objective measure is simply more car than a CLA – more powerful, bigger, faster, and to some eyes at least as pretty, if not more so.

The point is, the Genesis has the look of luxury – and arguably the goods, too – even if the Hyundai brand is unquestionably mainstream. That’s what we’re about here. Cars with the look of luxury, but from mainstream brands at pleasing prices given the design, performance and equipment.

We went looking for champagne-like vehicles from what we’ll call beer-league brands – mainstream brands. Our list is subjective, though we think we can make the case for all 10.

Nissan Murano

Pricing: $29,998-$43,498

Body styles: SUV only

Top performing version: A 3.5-litre V-6 is the only motor, teamed with a CVT or continuously variable transmission.

Luxury brand rivals: BMW X3, Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GL, Land Rover Discovery Sport, Lexus NX, Lincoln MKX, Infiniti QX60.

The luxury-look argument: The overall shapes are mouth-watering, but Nissan has gone beyond all that by focusing on the details: standard LED daytime running lights (LED headlamps optional), sexy LED taillamps, big wheels, sheetmetal details and even the available panoramic roof. Heads turn when the new Murano rolls by. Looks pricey, but isn’t.

Chevrolet Corvette

Pricing: $59,495-$92,745

Body styles: Coupe and convertible

Top performing version: Z06, all supercharged 650 hp of it. Base power: 460 hp.

Luxury brand rivals: Depending on your tastes and budget, the ’Vette could compete directly against the Audi R8, Porsche 911, Lamborghini Huracan, Lamborghini Aventador, Ferrari 458 Italia, Lexus LFA, Mercedes Benz AMG SLS GT, BMW M6 Coupe.

The luxury-look argument: Strip off the badging and this ’Vette could easily be mistaken for an Italian exotic selling for five or six time the price, or more. It’s a beauty, low and sleek and dangerous-looking. The on-road performance does not disappoint, either, and even the most basic version comes loaded with technology. The Chevy brand isn’t strong enough to support the pricing this car deserves. It’s that good.

Chevrolet Impala

Pricing: $31,845-$39,845

Body styles: Sedan only

Top performing version: All versions come with the same 305-hp V-6 mated to a six-speed automatic.

Luxury brand rivals: BMW 5-Series, Audi A6, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Lexus GS, Infiniti Q70, Lexus GS.

The luxury-look argument: We’re not saying the Impala is completely competitive with these high-end “rivals.” The Impala is a front-driver while these others are rear-drivers or all-wheel drive. But we would argue the Impala is a styling rival of most, if not all, of these other premium cars. Beyond that, the base engine in the BMW is a four-cylinder turbocharged power plant with 65 fewer horses. On top of that, the Chevy is available with an uptown infotainment system that is dead-easy to use. If nothing else, you must agree that this made-in-Canada Impala does not look like a police car.

Kia Cadenza

Pricing: $37,995-$45,395

Body styles: Sedan only

Top performing version: All versions come with the same 293-hp V-6 mated to a six-speed automatic.

Luxury brand rivals: BMW 3-Series, Mercedes C-Class, Lexus IS, Cadillac ATS, Volvo S60, Acura TLX, Lincoln MKZ, Audi A3.

The luxury-look argument: When last we checked, Kia had at least a $4,000 factory incentive on the Cadenza, which brings the price down into the low $30,000-range. That’s a terrific deal on a nice front-drive, upscale sedan, one loaded with features. Kia’s brand is not as weighty as BMW’s and such, but if you judge this car solely on the total package, minus the badge, the Cadenza stands up well. The design is conservative, but tasteful, while the execution in the cabin is a revelation at this price. Not a car for snobs, however.

Toyota Avalon

Pricing: $37,785-$39,786

Top performing version: Body styles: Large sedan only

All get a 268-hp V-6, six-speed automatic.

Luxury brand rivals: BMW 5-Series, Audi A6, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Lexus GS, Infiniti Q70, Lexus GS

The luxury-look argument: We’re throwing out the same luxury car rivals as we did for the Chevrolet Impala. Except we’d suggest that the typical Avalon buyer is watching Cialis and Geritol ads more intently than those who drive any of these other cars – including the Impala. Still, the Avalon is a wonderful, safe, stately and reliable sedan with just enough power and more than enough electronic features to entertain buyers of what we’ll call a “certain age.” For many, the Avalon is so well built, it will more than likely be the last car ever.

Hyundai Genesis

Pricing: $43,000-$62,000

Body styles: Large sedan only

Top performing version: A 420-hp V-8 is the top motor, while a 311-hp V-6 is offered on the base version.

Luxury brand rivals: BMW 5-Series, Audi A6, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Lexus GS, Infiniti Q70, Lexus GS

The luxury-look argument: The Genesis is aimed at a predictable luxury crowd – 5-Series, A6, E-Class … But you’ll get a lot more Genesis for the money than anything from Germany. Standard is AWD and features abound. The design is a tad tame and perhaps a bit derivative, but the total package is breathtaking. Match up one of the Germans against the Genesis, load them uniformly with features, and you might find the Hyundai has something in the neighbourhood of a $20,000 price advantage. You could buy a nice Hyundai Elantra compact with that $20,000, and make the kid happy.

Volkswagen CC

Pricing: $36,375-$50,175

Body styles: Sedan only

Top performing version: A 280 V-6 is the top motor, while a 200-hp turbocharged four-cylinder is offered on the base version.

Luxury brand rivals: BMW 3-Series, Mercedes C-Class, Lexus IS, Cadillac ATS, Volvo S60, Acura TLX, Lincoln MKZ, Audi A3

The luxury-look argument: Many have asked, what was VW thinking with the CC? Doesn’t this in some way compete with the Passat? VW says no, the CC is one of those sporty, four-door coupes we keep hearing about, although a coupe by definition has only two doors. The CC does have an appealing look, however – expensive but not showy. VW sells so few of them, you might trick the country club set into thinking you’ve scrounged up an exotic car from Europe. If you can hide the VW badge, of course.

Mazda6

Pricing: $24,495-$32,295

Body styles: Sedan only

Top performing version: Even the GT has a 184-hp four-cylinder.

Luxury brand rivals: BMW 3-Series, Mercedes C-Class, Lexus IS, Cadillac ATS, Volvo S60, Acura TLX, Lincoln MKZ, Audi A3

The luxury-look argument: The 6 has a slippery, exotic-like design; this is as effective an interpretation of Mazda “soul of motion” design language as you’ll find anywhere in the company’s lineup. Mazda also argues that the i-ACTIVSENSE suite of safety technologies is the equal if not the better of any luxury competitor.

Chrysler 200

Pricing: $22,495-$33,195

Body styles: Sedan only

Top performing version: A 295-hp V-6 is the top motor, with a 184-hp four-cylinder also in the mix.

Luxury brand rivals: BMW 3-Series, Mercedes C-Class, Lexus IS, Cadillac ATS, Volvo S60, Acura TLX, Lincoln MKZ, Audi A3

The luxury-look argument: The newly designed 200 is lovely. Chrysler’s chief designer, Canadian Ralph Gilles, has empowered his team to stretch the boundaries of a mainstream brand. The details are notable, the proportions nicely settled. This is so good, it’s enough to make one forget how a homely car the old 200 really was. So long to bow-wow.

Experts weigh in on the upgraded Kia Cadenza with first test drives and reviews

The upgraded Kia Cadenza, which made its North American debut at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year, has been making headlines as of late. We wanted to post some test drives and reviews by automotive experts over the past week and share what they have to say about our luxury sedan.

The Cadenza moves the Kia brand further up market by offering customers an impressive list of standard and optional equipment that takes in-car technology and premium features to an entirely new level.

But don’t take our word for it – be sure to check it out for yourself when it’s available in your area, and tell us what you think.

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2014 Kia Cadenza, with features galore, challenges premium sedans

“Buyers looking for a roomy sedan with a lot of luxury features get a new choice this year, and it’s a good-looking, well-powered, impressively mannered four door with a Kia badge on the front.”
“With one engine — a 293-horsepower V-6 — the Cadenza offers more power than the Avalon and the base LaCrosse engine, too.”

Read more: 2014 Kia Cadenza, with features galore, challenges premium sedans – Washington Post – Bruce Benedict/Associated Press

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2014 Kia Cadenza Test Drive

“Sleek and quietly stylish, the Cadenza occupies a new position in the Kia lineup as the company’s first-ever entry luxury sedan. Based on the midsize Optima front-drive sedan architecture, the Cadenza is bigger, roomier, and decidedly posh.”

Read more: 2014 Kia Cadenza Test Drive – Popular Mechanics

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2014 Kia Cadenza first drive from Consumer Reports

“The large Kia Cadenza serves up lots of luxury features at a likable price. Like other Kias, the styling is modern and attractive. First impressions are that the Cadenza is pleasant to drive.”

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The Cadenza proves Kia can do luxury

“Driving the 2014 Kia Cadenza, I contemplated the older-model Mercedes-Benz E320 sitting in front of me, and realized that the Kia had a much better cabin.”

“The thought of comparing Kia favorably with Mercedes-Benz was unheard of 10 years ago.”

“Issues of used versus new aside, this Cadenza’s leather-wrapped steering wheel felt excellent in my hands, while wood trim around the cabin had the substantial look of furniture. And I don’t usually like glossy wood trim. Soft-touch materials covered the dashboard, and the plastic parts had a nice finish that was decidedly un-plasticky.”

Note: The model specifications and trim levels reviewed above are for the North American market. Please stay tuned or contact us for specifications and availability in your market.

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