Driven: 2017 Kia Cadenza Limited

Driven: 2017 Kia Cadenza Limited

The name an automaker gives to a new vehicle can project an image for the vehicle — or of the person who would buy such a vehicle. Case in point: The Kia Cadenza.

2017 Kia Cadenza marks second generation of the luxury sedan | Kia photos

2017 Kia Cadenza marks second generation of the luxury sedan | Kia photos

The name an automaker gives to a new vehicle can project an image for the vehicle — or of the person who would buy such a vehicle. Case in point: The Kia Cadenza.

Note that its Cadenza, not credenza, which is a piece of furniture you might have found in your grandmother’s dining room. A cadenza is a piece of music designed to be played by the virtuoso soloist. My dictionary even uses the phrases “exceptionally brilliant” and “technically brilliant” in its definition.

Interior has quilted leather on its seats

Interior has quilted leather on its seats

I’m sure Kia designers, engineers and marketing personnel would be pleased to read “exceptionally brilliant” and “technically brilliant” as part of any paragraph describing the new and second-generation 2017 Cadenza.

Though it wasn’t available in North America until the 2015 model year, Kia launched the Cadenza sedan in 2010 in South Korea, where it was a home market, full-size luxury sedan designed to carry corporate executive to and from the office.

Now comes the second-generation version with a new, stronger but lighter and more rigid, wider and lower body, styled at Kia’s design studio in California and built in South Korea, with a new eight-speed transmission as part of an enhanced powertrain, with a luxurious interior, and with all the latest in technology.

And even in its top-of-the-line Limited trim, it’s all available for $44,390 plus delivery fees of $900.

V6 pumps out 290 horsepower

V6 pumps out 290 horsepower

All 2017 Cadenzas are powered by a 3.3-liter V6 engine that provides 290 horsepower but has been tuned for enhanced fuel efficiency. Linked with the new eight-speed gearbox, the Cadenza is rated at 20 mpg in city driving and 28 on the highway.

Standard on the Limited version are the usual passive safety equipment, panoramic sunroof, rain-sensing wipers, power-folding exterior mirrors, LED head and fog lamps, dual-zone climate controls with rear vents, UVO infotainment, Harman Kardon premium audio, satellite radio and navigation.

Plus Nappa leather seating — heated and cooled up front and heated in two of the three rear positions — power tilt and telescoping steering column, etc., as well as autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, smart blind spot and rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning and rear parking assist and surround view monitor.

We found the 2017 Cadenza Limited to be perhaps the most luxurious vehicle we’ve experienced in the sub-$45K price bracket. Everything inside the cabin looks and feels just right, smooth and comfortable.

'Z' designed into tail lamps, head lamps, even center console

‘Z’ designed into tail lamps, head lamps, even center console

Particularly impressive are the quilted seat bolsters with their diamond-shaped stitching. However, we’d advise you to choose the color carefully; our test car had almost white seats and we can only imagine how difficult it might be to keep them clean if you have children, grandchildren or pets in the car.

We found the car’s technology to be efficient but not intrusive, with perhaps one exception: At some major intersections, there are side-by-side left-turn lanes and the smart blind spot system isn’t happy when you’re making that turn with another car to your left. It took us a couple such turns to realize why we were being given a warning signal.

But we had no significant complains about the car, which would seem a luxurious but economical way to go back and forth to work, or across the country. And with a sizable trunk, even though you might be a virtuoso soloist, you wouldn’t have to travel alone.

2017 Kia Cadenza Limited

Vehicle type: 5-passenger sedan, front-wheel drive
Base price: $44,390 Price as tested: $45,290
Engine: 3.3-liter V6, 290-horsepower @ 6,400 rpm, 253 pound-feet of torque @ 5,200 rpm Transmission: 8-speed whatever
Wheelbase: 112.4 inches Overall length/width: 195.7 inches / 73.6 inches
Curb weight: 3,770 pounds
EPA mileage estimates: 20 city / 28 highway / 23 combined
Assembled in: Hwaseong, South Korea

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