I wouldn't blame you if you have a difficult time remembering the Kia Cadenza exists. Along with the K900, the Cadenza sits at the bottom of the sales charts for the Korean carmaker, which is better known for its quirky Soul and competitive Optima midsize sedan. However, Kia isn't giving up on its full-size, front-wheel-drive sedan and has just uncovered a new second-generation model at the New York auto show.
Improvements begin at the foundation with a body structure that is now constructed from more than 50 percent advanced high-strength steel, which doubles what the original Cadenza was constructed from. More structural adhesives and hot-stamped areas further reinforce the body to help increase structural rigidity by more than 35 percent to better driving character, NVH and safety.
Additional dynamic improvements come courtesy of lighter aluminum suspension components, reengineered front and rear subframes, dual-valve amplitude selective dampers and an upgraded electromechanical power steering system that now features a 32-bit control unit in place of a 16-bit processor. Stopping muscle is also up with slightly larger disc brakes in front and rear, while the entire package rides on either 18- or 19-inch aluminum wheels wrapped with available Michelin tires.
To decrease NVH levels, the new Cadenza receives more acoustic absorbing laminate in the windshield and front windows, additional sound insulation around the A-pillars and a floor pan undercover that also helps improve aerodynamics.
An updated 3.3-liter V-6 engine will provide an estimated 290-horsepower with better fuel economy according to Kia. For reference, the 2016 Cadenza carries an EPA fuel economy rating of 19 mpg city and 28 mpg on the highway. The bigger news on the drivetrain front is a new, in-house-developed eight-speed automatic transmission, which replaces the old six-speed unit.
Visually, the new Cadenza receives a new front fascia that will be offered with two different versions of the company's signature tire nose grille. Lower trim models will come with the "diamond butterfly" mesh grille insert, while the higher-end models get a vertical blade insert.
Inside, the redone cabin features higher-grade materials throughout, a wraparound dashboard and real accent stitching. To dress up the cabin even more, Nappa leather with diamond quilted seat bolsters is optional. New technology features include an available head-up display, improved surround view monitor, smart automatically opening trunk and a wireless smartphone charger. All 2017 Cadenzas will come standard with the newest iteration of Kia's UVO infotainment system featuring both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities. Audiophiles will have the option of equipping their Cadenza with a 12-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system.
Safety features such smart cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning will be offered. For a Kia-first, a smart blind-spot detection system will be available that identifies unintentional drifting toward an adjacent car and helps maintain an intended course by automatically engaging the opposite side front wheel brake.
Look for the 2017 Cadenza to arrive in Kia dealers late this year. Pricing will be made available closer to the launch, but should be in the ballpark range of the current model that starts at $32,990.