Second generation Kia Cadenza debuts at New York

2017 Kia Cadenza 02

Kia’s full-size Cadenza sedan isn’t what you’d call a volume seller: compared to the company’s popular Optima mid-size sedan, which sold 159,414 units in the US last year and 6,210 in Canada, the Cadenza sold only 7,343 units in the US and 173 in Canada during the same period.

That doesn’t mean the South Korean company is ready to abandon the full-size sedan market to the likes of the Toyota Avalon and Buick LaCrosse, however, and at the New York International Auto Show Kia revealed an all-new second-generation Cadenza that sets a high bar for features and content.

Stylistically the new car doesn’t stray far from the fold, but its lines have been cleaned up to create a more sophisticated presence. Details include a distinctive new concave grille treatment, with two different grille designs for different trim levels, and matched Z-shaped lighting signatures front and rear. The overall length of the car is the same as the outgoing model, but the wheelbase has been stretched slightly, creating more rear legroom, and the roofline was extended rearward while maintaining rear headroom and slightly increasing trunk space.

Inside, new higher-quality materials have been employed, with real stitching and a wraparound dash to create a feeling of width. The driver’s seat has been lowered for a sportier and more stable feeling, and the seat cushion was extended slightly and fitted with an innovative cushion extension mechanism that slides and rotates, making it easier to find the ideal seating position. Other touches include a new head-up display, an improved surround-view display, a wireless phone charger, a touchless Smart Trunk, seat heaters that automatically lower the heat setting over time, and a full suite of driver assistance technologies. As well, a new dark brown interior colour has been added, bringing the total number of colour combinations to four.

Underpinning the redesigned car is a body structure that makes greater use of high-tensile steel and structural adhesives for a more rigid body structure, with stronger and more dent-resistant door panels. Improvements in NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) have been realized with additional soundproofing, retuned suspension, revised subframes with larger bushings, amplitude selective damping shock absorbers, hydraulic rebound stoppers, and more responsive steering thanks to a new faster-responding electronic control unit.

Power comes from a revised version of Kia’s 3.3L V6 engine, which has been tweaked for improved fuel economy. With an estimated 290 hp on tap (exact power output and fuel economy figures will be released closer to the vehicle’s on-sale date), the engine drives the front wheels via Kia’s first FWD-based eight-speed automatic transmission. The new transmission is lighter than the previous six-speed unit, and was designed to provide efficient performance and quick, crisp shifts.

The second-generation Cadenza is set to go on sale in late 2016, and pricing will be announced closer to the vehicle’s launch date.

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Simon Hill

Simon Hill

Simon Hill rebuilt his first engine, an air-cooled Volkswagen, at 14. He started writing professionally about cars in 2009 and was also the editor of Boat Journal magazine. He lives in Vancouver, BC.