2017 Kia Cadenza
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. Read more...