2018 Cadenza New Car Test Drive
Once known mainly for its small cars, Kia now has a full range of models. The current lineup includes two premium sedans: the front-wheel-drive Cadenza and a bigger, more costly rear-drive K900.
Initially launched as a 2010 model, the Cadenza was redesigned as a second-generation sedan for 2017. Little has changed for the 2018 model year, except that the optional V6 Luxury Package now includes a panoramic sunroof and interior LED lighting.
Three trim levels are offered: Premium, Technology, and Limited (previously SXL). Each Cadenza contains a 3.3-liter V6 engine rated at 290 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque, driving an 8-speed automatic transmission.
With the original Cadenza, Kia didn't simply prepare a bigger version of its other sedans. On the other hand, the company's largest front-drive sedan didn't veer far away from the mainstream. Styling is best described as evolutionary rather than groundbreaking, and fuel economy hasn't been a strong point. Still, the Cadenza has matured considerably in its current, second-generation form.
Although a Cadenza lacks some of the luxurious touches offered in Kia's rear-drive K900 and its compatriots, it offers plenty for a more accessible price. Even the base Premium trim level is quite well-equipped, including leather seat upholstery and a rearview camera.
A $3,000 option group for Premium trim includes navigation, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, panoramic moonroof, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-change assist, rear parking sensors, and 630-watt Harman Kardon audio.
As for modern safety technology, forward-collision warnings and automatic emergency braking are standard on the more costly Technology and Limited trim levels. Neither is available for the base (Premium) sedan, though the latter can be fitted with blind-spot monitoring. A rearview camera is standard for all; while a surround-view camera system comes with the Limited edition.
Crash-test data is incomplete. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not crash-tested a Cadenza. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the Cadenza a Top Safety Pick for 2018, with Good ratings in all crash tests. Frontal crash prevention is rated Superior, but only if certain optional equipment is installed. In addition, only the optional LED headlights were deemed Acceptable.
Premium ($32,290) comes with leather upholstery, a rearview camera, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, a 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, and 18-inch alloy wheels. The infotainment system operates in accord with Kia's UVO eServices telematics, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. (Prices are MSRP and do not include $900 destination charge.)
Technology ($39,290) gets 19-inch wheels, ventilated front seats, wireless smartphone charging, bi-function LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, and forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking.
Limited ($44,690) adds Nappa quilted leather, sunshades, heated outboard rear seats, surround-view camera system, and a head-up display.