The 2017 Kia Cadenza is going to leave stuck between the rock and the hard place.
On one side is the rock. A newly redesigned upscale sedan that does a lot of things right including a price that won’t force you to mortgage your home.
The hard place is the name. It’s a Kia. That’s not going to impress the gang down at the country club. They’re into BMWs and Audis. Oh sure, they’ll tell you how nice it looks, but inside they’ll be dismissing the pedestrian roots.
So which way do you go?
Let me make the case for the Cadenza. First, your friends who don’t know cars will never know it’s a Kia until you tell them. The newly redesigned exterior is a product of Kia’s California design studio. Chief Designer Peter Schreyer’s likes what he calls “the simplicity of the straight line.” That means one design feature that goes the length of the car giving it a sleeker profile.
The grille is an evolutionary step from Kia’s “tiger nose” concept. There are actually two different grills. Lower trim models get what Kia calls the “Diamond Butterfly” pattern. Upper trim gets the “Intaglio” look with vertical blades.
The 2017 Cadenza has the same overall length last year’s model, but it’s slightly wider and lower in height. The wheelbase is a little longer which gives a little extra legroom for passenger in the back seat.
Under the hood is a 3.3 liter V6 engine that delivers 290 horsepower without a turbo. The result is instant power right when you need it. Connected to an eight-speed gearbox you’ll find it hard not to like its performance. Mileage is rated at 20 mpg in the city and 28 on the highway with a combined number of 23 mpg. In fact, that’s exactly what I got during my test week.
Kia touts the Cadenza’s stronger, lighter and more rigid body structure. They say it all adds up to a more enjoyable driving experience. Overall, that’s very true. Just don’t expect a sports sedan. If you love zipping through canyons, you’re probably going to need a true sporty vehicle. Having said that, the Cadenza does a great job of comfortably getting around town.
Once your friends are inside, they won’t know it’s not a true luxury marque. After all, it has the official sign of all upscale cars: an analog clock on the dash. OK, it’s more than just the clock. My test car had white Nappa leather seats that are both heated and vented. Portions were quilted to give it just the right touch. It even has one of those shades that rises up to block that nasty sun from glaring through the rear window.
The dash has a nice clean layout with the Kia/Hyundai Uvo display that controls just about everything. I’ve said before I’m a fan of their system because it’s easy to understand and use. I liked that the backup monitor also uses a 360 degree view so you have no excuse if you hit that trash can in your driveway. There’s a great phone compartment at the front of the center console with a wireless charging pad.
But let’s get straight to the best part. The Kia Cadenza starts with a base price of $31,990. If you want the full upscale experience, you’ll want the Cadenza Limited which starts at $44,390. Throw in all the options necessary to impress your friend and you’ll spend… $44,390. My test car $45,290 because it included a $900 freight and handling fee. Don’t forget Kia’s 5 year/60,000 miles basic warranty and 10 year/100,000 mile limited powertrain warranty.
You’re going to be pretty hard pressed to buy any of those fancier names in this size of car for anywhere near this price. That’s why you’re stuck. Do you want upscale value or do you want a prestige name that delivers more sporty performance?
Here’s an easy way to decide. Check out the prices and just imagine how much fun you can have with all the money you’d save buying the 2017 Kia Cadenza. So much for the hard place.