When you hear the name Kia these days, it’s almost always in a positive light and it’s almost always in reference to one of their best-selling vehicles, like the Kia Optima or the Kia Sportage. But frankly, the 2017 Kia Cadenza rounds out an outstanding line-up as Kia firmly enters the luxury sedan market.
Humble Beginnings for Kia
In fact, if I may be so bold, this is the first year that I personally considered buying a Kia. When I attended the DFW Auto Show a few months ago and had the chance to drive the K900, it solidified Kia’s ability to handle luxury. But when I drove the 2017 Kia Sportage, that’s when I realized the entire lineup is something to be reckoned with.
Even Kia is quick to admit that their entry into the U.S. market in 1994 was less than stellar. By 2001, Kia was ranked dead last in initial quality. As in, THE WORST. In 2016, Kia was ranked as the TOP brand in initial quality – the first time in 27 years that a non-luxury brand has been bestowed that honor.
So what changed?
In 2006, Peter Schreyer, a chief designer from Audi, joined the company and spent the next 10 years leading innovative approaches to both quality and design. From the Kia Soul to the Kia Optima and now to Kia Cadenza, it’s clear that they have a vision and they’re not afraid to show it off.
2017 Kia Cadenza Press Introduction
Along with many other journalists, bloggers, and members of the media, Kia invited AGirlsGuidetoCars to focus on the 2017 Kia Cadenza in an area steeped in both history and luxury with a stay at the Salamander Resort in Middleburg, Virginia.
The mission? Spend the day driving this full-size sedan while soaking up the scenery and history of Virginia’s horse country. And I needed a full day because I had almost forgotten about the Cadenza.
Introduced in 2013, this sedan was quickly overshadowed by its incredibly popular sibling, the Kia Optima. Perhaps it was the popularity of the Optima that prompted Kia to improve the design from the inside out of the all new 2017 Kia Cadenza.
Designed with Intention
While spending a few days at the Salamander Resort in Middleburg, Virginia, we had a chance to meet and greet people like Ray Ng, Principal Exterior Designer for the Cadenza. For this new version, the Cadenza was fortunate enough to be redesigned on the interior and exterior at the same time.
He described the vehicle as personifying the “tailored athlete” with a clean-cut masculine elegance, sleek profile, and simplicity of the straight line design while still adding the right “accessories” to the look with Z shaped LED lights in the front and rear and the clean, minimal dash.
But with all the masculine metaphors, it was inevitable that a woman in the audience would ask what considerations they’ve made for their female drivers.
To some, that’s a loaded question. Kia mentioned things like ample storage space and dual memory settings for the power seats. What they were telling us is that they didn’t really specialize this masculine design for females but I wish that was exactly what they said, and here’s why:
The Kia Cadenza, despite its masculine lines, is not a masculine car. It’s a luxury car and when done right, like this one, it isn’t gender specific. This car is well-suited for a man or woman to be driver or passenger. I had the chance to experience both.
Two Women, One Driving Mission
Our primary mission was to explore the countryside to get the feel for the driving and handling of the Cadenza while experiencing some of the amenities of the car.
So, what did we find?
Horse country. Without any horses. (Still pretty though).
History in every corner we visited.
Exploring the Great Indoors
And while we might have wanted to explore the great outdoors, the heat, humidity, and bugs kept us from venturing outside of the climate controlled cabin featuring amazing Harman/Kardon premium sound.
While we were “trapped” inside the vehicle, we made sure to explore all of the luxuries great and small.
We returned back to the Salamander Resort late in the day but, for once, not the last driving team!
Overall Impressions of the Kia Cadenza
Let’s be honest. Put me in a beautiful setting at a luxury resort with great friends and a relaxing driving route and it’s hard to not feel warm and fuzzy inside. But we honestly put this car to the test. We stopped and started. We tried quick turns and sudden acceleration and hard braking, some of it intentionally. The car handled beautifully and rode beautifully.
My only complaint at the end of the day was… well… honestly, I can’t think of anything. Seriously. And I criticize everything!
Okay, maybe I would have liked to see a more creative rear fascia on the Cadenza but the design is intentional to obscure the rear camera and trunk access.
And I could complain about the fuel economy which averages about 23 mpg (estimated 20 city/28 highway). But that just doesn’t seem fair when you’re boasting a 3.3L direct injected V6 engine putting out 290hp.
There’s a whole lot more that I could tell you about the 2017 Kia Cadenza but I’ll leave you anticipating the October 2016 anticipated release date.
Look for the Cadenza to start just below $32k (Premium trim) and price its way up to a fully loaded model like this one (SXL) for around $44k.
I was a guest of Kia on behalf of AGirlsGuidetoCars for their National Press Introduction of the 2017 Kia Cadenza in Middleburg, VA.