Sedans continue to lose market share thanks to the growing number of crossovers that they have to compete with. This is especially true for the midsize sedan segment and even more of a problem for full size sedans. The once popular segment now either has to compete with their midsize counterparts, who aren’t that much smaller or midsize crossovers, so why are they still around? Today full size sedans are positioned less as a family hauler like in the past and now as a more luxurious flagship for an automaker’s lineup.
Look at the Nissan Maxima, which isn’t much bigger than the Nissan Altima, but greater emphasis on “sport” positions it a step or two above the plebeian Altima. Even though they still exist at a much smaller scale than in the past, is there really any reason to buy a full size sedan?
Well Kia hopes that there is, since it has released an all-new second generation Cadenza full size sedan. The new Cadenza continues to move into the near luxury realm with its spacious and luxury appointed interior. It’s not a full fledged luxury sedan, like the much larger K900, but it is a nice step up from the Optima.
Luxurious and Spacious Interior
The new Cadenza now features an even larger interior, with rear legroom increasing by half an inch and overall rear-seat passenger volume growing from 45-46 cubic feet of space and overall space is up to 105 cubic feet from 103 in the previous Cadenza. Even though the Cadenza’s interior volume is still smaller than the Toyota Avalon, it’s really big. One 6’6″ friend was able to sit in the front seat, with another 5’10” buddy sitting directly behind him. The best part was that there was still a lot of legroom for both guys. I was also able to fully pack the house with every passenger boasting about how much legroom they had, with their only complaint being a rear seat that is a little bit too reclined.
Other interior upgrades, include a new infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A quilted Nappa leather interior is also a nice upgrade and the latest safety tech, like autonomous braking and forward collision warning is available.
The 2017 Cadenza’s interior was roomy and comfortable, which earned it high marks, but that’s more than can be said for what’s under the hood. The 2017 Cadenza only offers one engine, a 290-hp 3.3L V6 that’s mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The powertrain sends its power to the ground via the front wheels. If you remember the specs from the last Cadenza, you’ll notice that the 2017 model’s V6 is slightly less powerful with a 3 horsepower decline and 2 lb-ft. less torque at 253. The power reduction and the new eight-speed automatic, which replaces the old six-speed is an effort to improve the Cadenza’s fuel economy specs, which land at 20/28 mpg.
In relaxed driving, the Cadenza’s powertrain was adequate at keeping the large sedan moving, but ask for more and you’re greeted with sluggish responses from the transmission and slow acceleration numbers. The electric power steering is also too light, although a Sport mode does add a bit more feel.
A Feature-Packed Near-Luxury Sedan
A large, comfortable and luxurious full size sedan. Hmm. As I mentioned before, the segment sales continue to decline, but the updates to the Cadenza do make it more refined and competitive against the Avalon and Chevy Impala. It doesn’t have the sport factor, that the Maxima brings to the table, but it’s exterior does have a more of a luxury feel. During my week with it, I kept thinking of it as a rival to the Lexus ES 350 more so than the Impala, something that I wouldn’t have said about the last generation.
The 2017 Kia Cadenza starts at $31,990 and is offered in three trim levels: Premium, Technology and Limited.