Used 2017 Kia Cadenza Limited Review: This Luxury Sedan Might Be Kia’s Best-Kept Secret

Kia Cadenza Luxury Sedan

Its luxe touches and unassuming sleekness will surprise you.

In my next life, I’m going to pursue a career in car color naming. For example, the 2017 Kia Cadenza Limited I took on a recent road trip was dubbed Gravity Blue. Doesn’t that evoke a sense of floating above Planet Earth, looking down on its beautiful blue oceans?

The 2017 version of the Kia Cadenza is all new, and it doesn’t disappoint; it delights. With this model’s redesign, you’ll notice three key things:

  1. The body is stronger, yet lighter, resulting in a smoother ride. The engineers were able to add more sound protection for a quieter ride, as well.
  2. The Cadenza’s engine has been paired with an eight-speed automatic, improving driving dynamics and efficiency (think better fuel economy!)
  3. A sportier profile and two grill options, depending on the trim; an extended roofline maintains rear headroom and slightly improves trunk space.

The more I learn about Kia, the more I like them. In the last year, I have been very impressed by their Optima and K900 (and not just because it’s LeBron James’ car of choice), and I can hardly wait to drive the new Stinger sports sedan. From what I know so far, Kia is rocking the sedan market.

We’ve also evaluated how this car performs as a used car. We’ve preserved Kristin’s initial review and included some used facts at the end. Make sure to check it out!

2017 Kia Cadenza Paddle Shifters Luxury Sedan, Luxury Kia, Kia Cadenza

Look, ma: paddle shifters (so fun)! Photo: Kristin Shaw

Who is the Kia Cadenza Limited driver?

The Cadenza Limited is an excellent choice for just about anyone, unless you’re a parent of more than two kids. The car has a zippy engine with 290 horses running the vehicle, well thought out controls, and plenty of back seat space.

Ideal drivers:

  • Families with one or two children
  • Singles or couples
  • Professionals looking for a versatile sedan that is plush enough to impress clients

Kia thinks it’s ideal for women who exude confidence and demand a beautiful car. You know, like us.

What It Costs

The 2017 Kia Cadenza is available in three trims: Premium, Technology, and Limited, ranging from $31,990 to $44,390

The vehicle I drove was priced at $45,290, which included the white Nappa leather seat trim package.

Comfort, Eco, Sport, and Smart… what’s your profile?

Comfort mode minimizes jostling and improves stability, with smoother acceleration on both straight roads and turns. This mode is idea for you if you just want to get to point A to point B without any fuss, and/or you have a sleeping toddler in the back and you don’t want to wake her.

Eco mode is all about the fuel economy. When in Eco mode, the Cadenza maximizes its energy resources across the board, like the air conditioner and shifting patterns. Your power and pickup may feel slightly dampened, but you’ll experience an increase in gas mileage.

Sport Mode is for the car enthusiasts – it’s the difference between a point-and-shoot camera and a manual professional camera. If you prefer to drive your vehicle consciously and actively, choose Sport mode. The throttle is more responsive, the steering is more firm and more sensitive, and offers better handling.

What’s really cool about the Cadenza is that Kia has equipped it with a Smart mode. This means the Cadenza’s computer brain learns your driving habits, from the way you accelerate to the way you drive under various conditions to average speed and driving behaviors, Smart mode records and adjusts to your driving patterns.

Not sure the Cadenza is luxurious enough for you? Check out the Kia K 900.

2017Kia Cadenza With Sunroof View Luxury Sedan, Luxury Kia, Kia Cadenza

The sunroof on the Kia Cadenza is dynamite! Photo: Kristin Shaw

I can see clearly now… through the huge sunroof

The 2017 Kia Cadenza is all-new, and is a bit heavier and larger than the Optima, but smaller than the K900.

If you want a smooth ride with the added fun of paddle shifters (optional to use, of course!) a roomy back seat, and most of the bells and whistles you may expect on a sedan in this class, then the Cadenza is definitely worth a look. We drove our Cadenza from Austin, Texas, to Ft. Myers, Florida over the course of two days, and honestly, I wasn’t sure how that was going to go. We have a seven-year-old son who had never been in the car for that long, and I didn’t know if the car was going to feel cramped and crowded. Spoiler alert: it was not at all.

2017 Kia Cadenza Lots Of Room Luxury Sedan, Luxury Kia, Kia Cadenza

Lots of room for the stuffed animals, the lap desk, the books, blankets, toys, snacks… Photo: Kristin Shaw

Bigger than ever, the Cadenza is serious about comfort

The Cadenza was a dream. Honestly, I’d put it up against any sedan in its class to drive for comfort and features. The 2017 body style includes an additional two cubic feet of passenger volume, with more leg room and space in the back seat. My husband, who is six feet tall and broad shouldered, fits comfortably in the back – although, to  be clear, he generally prefers to drive than ride, so we have to fight over the driver’s seat.

The 2017 Cadenza Limited includes a head-up display to allow the driver to view important information without taking her eyes off the road (speed limit, speedometer, directions), plus a long list of safety features:

  • lane-change and rear-parking assist
  • blind-spot and forward-collision warning
  • rear cross-traffic alert
  • automated emergency braking
  • adaptive cruise control
  • lane-departure warning
  • lane-keep assist
  • and a 360-degree camera

Wonder how Kia went from budget to luxe? Here’s the story.

2017 Kia Cadenza Backup Camera

The backup camera and birds-eye view gives the driver a high level of comfort for safe driving.

All the bells and whistles are in place to please the driver and passengers

The smart trunk option automatically opens as you approach it, which is so convenient when you have your hands full.

When it comes to entertainment, the Cadenza has it covered with standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, auxiliary input, Bluetooth, USB, power ports. The seven-inch screen makes it easy to navigate the commands, too. We had no trouble pairing our phones via Bluetooth, and we loved the head-up display, which told us exactly what the speed limit was on each stretch of highway to keep us out of trouble. We didn’t need the heated seats, but they would be fabulous in the winter; the layout of button placement is smart and intuitive, and that is helpful when you don’t want driving to be complicated.

2017 Kia Cadenza

The clear 7-inch screen and analog clock make a great team. Photo credit: Kristin Shaw

Did you see the lights on that car?

The Z-Shaped Led Lights In Front And Back Are Sharp And Modern. Photo Courtesy Of

The Z-shaped LED lights in front and back are sharp and modern. Photo courtesy of

The Cadenza’s headlights and LED taillights feature a z-shaped design, which gives it a smart look. The LED headlights are optional and include High-Beam Assist to automatically dim the lights for oncoming traffic and engage the high beams as appropriate.

Meet Peter Schreyer, the chief design officer for Kia, Hyundai, and Genesis.

All the way to Florida and back on one tank of gas!

No, I’m just kidding about that. But seriously, it seemed like we didn’t have to fill the tank very often, which was a bonus for my husband, who was bent on getting to Florida as quickly as possible, with the fewest breaks as possible (hello, Clark Griswold).

The Cadenza’s fuel mileage is listed at 23 mpg on average, and on our roughly-2500-mile round-trip excursion, we achieved closer to the highway mileage at 28 mpg. Regular old 87-octane works perfectly for the Cadenza.

Kia opted for an eight-speed automatic transmission in an effort to increase fuel economy, and in fact, this model has an improved EPA of 1 mpg. Kia says this new transmission is the first of its kind to be developed in-house by a car manufacturer and they filed 143 patents to protect it.

In terms of maintenance, the Kia is a leader with a 10-year or 100,000-mile warranty program. That includes a limited powertrain warranty and a 5-year/60,000 mile limited basic warranty. While maintenance is not included, a 5-year, 60,000 mile roadside assistance plan is, which goes a long way when you need help.

Kia Cadenza Back Seat Plenty Of Space

Check out all of that leg room! Photo credit: Kristin Shaw

Throw your bikes in the trunk and go

My husband and I had a rare night to ourselves on Sanibel Island while our son stayed with my parents, and the next morning, we pulled my parent’s nifty fold-up bikes out of the trunk our of Cadenza and pedaled a few miles to the Lighthouse Cafe for breakfast. We worked for those pancakes! And bacon. And eggs. and English muffins. Well, you get the idea.

The console is a small one, so unless you carry just a wallet, it’s not going to help you store your purse securely. However, space is generous in the Cadenza, and there are roomy pockets in the backs of the seats for a flatter purse, or you could stash it under the seat in the back or sit it on the seat next to you. When you need to hide it, there is a super-handy net in the trunk to keep it from rolling around in case you leave it in the trunk when you start moving again.

The trunk has a full sixteen cubic feet of space, which will fit roughly six roll-aboard suitcases. There is a pass-through in the second row for more space in case you need to transport both back-row passengers and cargo.

The Cadenza Has Ample Trunk Space With Sixteen Cubic Feet Of Room. Photo Credit: Kristin Shaw

The Cadenza has ample trunk space with sixteen cubic feet of room. Photo credit: Kristin Shaw

How do I decide which trim is right for me?

All three trims have the same driving experience in terms of the engine and horsepower, so it’s all about the add-ons. If you like plain and simple, go for the Premium trim, which still boasts quite a few features and options to add. If you live in a cold and rainy climate, you’re going to want the Technology trim, with rain-sensing, variable intermittent windshield wipers that can also be de-iced. If you want a smart trunk and chrome outside mirror housing (fancy!) go for the Limited trim.

2017 Kia Cadenza Trim Options: Premium, Technology, And Limited. Photo Courtesy Of

2017 Kia Cadenza trim options: Premium, Technology, and Limited. Photo courtesy of

If you’re considering a sedan, take the Cadenza for a spin. It holds up to its reputation, and then some.

Kia Cadenza 2017 With Kristin Shaw

2017 Kia Cadenza Limited in Austin with Kristin Shaw.

Want more details? Here’s the Monroney for the Cadenza I drove.

How Does the 2017 Kia Cadenza Fare As A Used Car?

While the Kia Cadenza is a great option for anyone who wants a little luxury on a budget, the 2017 edition is often one of the least-loved cars in its class. In fact, it ranks 11th out of 11 luxury sedans from 2017. But don’t be deceived: this car has aged well and can be a great buy for anyone who wants something smart but that can also be negotiated.

Market Value

The 2017 Kia Cadenza clocks in around $21,625 to $23,400, but the exact price will vary depending on location, wear, and trim.

Trouble Spots

There are two recalls for this vehicle. The hydraulic brakes have been recalled for possibly starting a fire and also, of course, resulting in brake failures. There are also some issues with suspension.

What Owners Are Saying

  • “I used to drive Toyota Avalons and was very pleased with them. On replacing my last Avalon I was introduced by a dealer to the 2008 Kia Amanti, my first and much appreciated KIA. After a sever Oklahoma hail storm I replace the Amanti with a 2014 KIA Cadenza that offered all of the amenities and reliability of the Avalon Limited at a better value. My new 2017 Cadenza provides some additional features not included on the 2014 and gets better gas mileage (33 to 35 MPG depending on wind direction) thank to the 8 forward gear transmission.” – Dean B., OK

  • “Outstanding comfort on long trips. The seats on the Limited trim are stylish, supportive, and provide an immediate impression of luxury. The suspension successfully cushions riders on the rough New England roads. The ride is quiet. The air conditioning works great and contrary to CR reviews the airflow did not chill my hands. Driving this sedan is still, after a year, a sublime joy.” – Joseph M., MA

  • “At 12000 miles the engine light came on due to a faulty sensor for the thermostat. Kia replaced at no cost” – Anonymous, MA

Disclosure: Kia provided the Cadenza for my review; all opinions expressed are my own.

Writer. Car fanatic. Mom. Kristin is the co-owner of auto review site Drive Mode Show and a nationally-published writer... More about Kristin Shaw