$19,642 - $25,110

2017 Kia Cadenza Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Kia Cadenza was new.


Performance: 7.9

The 2017 Kia Cadenza engine provides decent acceleration, but it’s not as powerful as some of its rivals. The eight-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and is always able to find the right gear. Although the ride is a bit firmer than most affordable large cars, this Kia rides comfortably on the highway and has composed handling. Some critics think the Cadenza's steering is well-weighted, while others say it requires a bit more force than expected to turn the wheel. However, three driving modes allow you to customize transmission and steering performance.

  • "Kia doesn't bill the Cadenza as a sport sedan, despite shift paddles on the steering wheel and selectable driving mode function that includes 'Sport.' Yet keeping that in mind, the big Cadenza felt at home on the two-lane highways we encountered, although it is clearly more in its element when cruising long stretches of open road." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "Rather than spirited driving, a car like this is about sitting back and enjoying the ride. The new Cadenza provides that without being sloppy" -- Cars.com
  • If there's a penalty for the big engine's application, it's at the pump, and it pretty much applies to the whole class." -- Autoblog

Acceleration and Power

The 2017 Kia Cadenza comes standard with a 3.3-liter V6 engine that produces 290 horsepower. It’s paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The Cadenza gets an EPA-estimated 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway, which is about average for the class.

Although the redesigned Cadenza accelerates better than the model it replaces, it doesn’t get up and go quite like some of its rivals, such as the Nissan Maxima or the redesigned Buick Lacrosse. The transmission works well with the V6. Unlike the transmissions in some rivals, the Cadenza’s shifts are deliberate and appropriate.

  • "Kia's new in-house eight-speed automatic transmission uses two extra gears [to] help keep the engine at peak power. This means the new Cadenza accelerates quicker than the old one, while still being more efficient. From a dead stop to eighth gear, the transmission shifts smoothly; if you're used to modern dual-clutch automatics, you might find the downshifts on the slow side, but the tradeoff is a more seamless ride through the gears." -- AutoWeek
  • "The Cadenza downshifts predictably as you press your foot farther and farther into the pedal stroke, avoiding the sudden triple or even quadruple downshifts that plague some modern nine-speed transmissions. The combo feels well-matched to the chassis, offering plenty of torque and easily rushing the Cadenza to triple-digit speeds when you call for it, and you're almost never left wishing for a lower gear." -- Autoblog
  • "Acceleration from the Cadenza's 3.3L V6 is good, but falls below the punch you'll find in rivals like the aforementioned Buick or the Nissan Maxima. At just under 3,800 pounds, the Cadenza at least doesn't have a lot of mass to carry around." -- Left Lane News

Handling and Braking

Although the Cadenza's ride absorbs bumps in the road, it is firmer than what you’ll find in other affordable large cars. Test drivers note that the 2017 Cadenza is more engaging to drive than the previous model, partly because it’s lighter and stiffer than the 2016 model.

The front-wheel drive Cadenza has three driving modes: Normal, Eco, and Sport. In Eco mode, throttle responses are less sensitive and steering is lighter. In Sport mode, it’s the opposite, and you’ll burn more gas. Critics disagree over steering effort. Some say it feels under-assisted, while others claim it’s just right when taking corners.

  • "The steering is actually better than fine, offering good effort in corners, and very good straight-line stability." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "The ride is tuned for comfort, but suspension upgrades offer more road feel without more bumps. Adding to a nimbler feel is that the new car is lighter and has a structure Kia says is 35 percent stiffer than the outgoing model." -- Cars.com
  • Steering in the Cadenza isn't heavy, but it required more effort than we expected. Likewise, the Cadenza doesn't crash over road imperfections, but its suspension is on the firmer side for a vehicle in this category." -- Left Lane News

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