The Time May Be Right: The 2017 Kia Cadenza Limited

Front 3/4 view of the 2017 Kia Cadenza Limited
The 2017 Kia Cadenza Limited.
Three years ago, Kia launched the new-for-2014 Cadenza.  The ad campaign called the car "impossible to ignore".  Car shoppers managed.  I can't find the '14 sales figures, but in 2015, they sold all of 7,343 of them, which puts it in Buick Cascada territory.  2016 was worse, with sales down to 4,738, which makes it the 225th best selling car in America (the list only goes to 298), outselling the Porsche Panamera but running behind its similarly targeted cousin, the Hyundai Azera.

Part of the problem, as I wrote at the time, was that Kia was promoting the '14 Cadenza as a luxury car when, in fact, what they'd built was a very good full-size family sedan with several features usually found on more upscale cars.  Commendable, especially at $35,100, but not a luxury car.  Even with another six grand-plus worth of options that took the bottom line to $41,900.

Rear 3/4 view of the 2017 Kia Cadenza Limited
2017 Kia Cadenza Limited.
The good thing about Kia is that they are always pushing, never calling the same play twice.  So the 2017 Cadenza arrives as a much better car, and better able to position itself as a luxury car, than its predecessor.

The tried-and-true 3.3-liter V6 is still under the hood, but this time it's mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.  The EPA fuel economy estimate is now 20 city/28 highway, which is good for a large car.

Ours was the Cadenza Limited (which is what it says on the window sticker...the trunk badge says "SXL"...same thing). One price ($44,390), tons of standard equipment:

  • 19-inch dark satin alloy wheels
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control with rear vents
  • Navigation with an eight-inch color touchscreen and rear camera
  • Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
  • A Harmon Kardon premium audio system with Clari-Fi
  • A three-month free subscription to SiriusXM Satellite Radio.
  • Nappa leather seat trim
  • Heated and ventilated front seats
  • Heated rear outboard seats
  • Pushbutton start
  • Smart key
  • Smart power trunk
  • Power tilt/telescope steering column with memory
  • Power rear window sunshades (manual shades for the back doors)
  • Autonomous emergency braking
  • Forward collision warning system
  • Smart blind spot detection system/Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Lane departure warning system
  • Rear parking assist and surround-view mirror
  • LED headlights and fog lamps
  • Panoramic sunroof
  • Auto-sensing windshield wipers
  • Power folding heated mirrors with LED turn lights
Interior view of 2017 Kia Cadenza Limited
2017 Kia Cadenza Limited interior.
And inside, a level of fit and finish combined with a re-designed instrument panel that looks like it belongs in an upscale sedan.  It is the second sedan this year that made me feel like I was in something truly special.  The other was the Volvo S90 T6 AWD Inscription, which cost $66,105.  The Cadenza Limited, with $900 inland freight and handling, comes to $45,290.  I still want the Volvo. But I'd be more than fine with the Cadenza in the driveway and $20,815 in the bank.  

It's that type of value equation that could break the luxury market open for Kia.  The time may be right.  

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