Second-generation Kia Cadenza unveiled at the 2016 New York Auto Show

Article by Christian A., on April 4, 2016

Considered as a significant improvement over the current model, the all-new 2017 Kia Cadenza has been unveiled at the 2016 New York International Auto Show.

For the upcoming model, Kia’s engineers aim to have it get an overall five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration as well as a Top Safety Pick+ designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Passenger safety is being taken care of by nine airbags including a driver’s knee airbag, as well as innovative driver assistance features like the Advanced Smart Cruise Control with stop-and-go functionality, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Warning, and Lane Departure Warning.

It also comes with the Smart Blind Spot Detection System that could detect inadvertent drifting toward an adjacent vehicle and then applies brake to the opposite side front wheel to help the driver maintain the Cadenza’s intended course.

Furthermore, Kia has made the Cadenza’s side body panels much stronger thanks to the increased use of tensile strength steel. Structural stiffness is now 30-percent higher than the outgoing model, as Kia used more structural adhesive and hot-stamped components.

Interestingly, the vehicle’s overall chassis is now lighter, as Kia replaced steel with aluminum on certain areas like the front steering knuckles. Moreover, Kia engineers have retuned its front and rear subframes with larger bushings in order to enhance its lateral stiffness and to improve its NVH attributes.

Thanks to Amplitude Selective Damping (ASD) shock absorbers, ride comfort in the Cadenza has been improved without having to compromise stability. Moreover, the damper now features an extra valve that delivers the appropriate damping force depending on the road surface. Additionally, the Cadenza comes with new shock absorber with a Hydraulic Rebound Stopper (HRS) that offers a smoother ride even when the vehicle is driven on harsh or broken surfaces.

Since the suspension has been retuned to enhance the vehicle’s lift coefficient, the Cadenza remains stable and easy to handle even when running at high speeds. Responsive steering has also been improved, thanks to a new 32-bit Electronic Control Unit (ECU) that replaced the 16-bit processor in the 2016 model.

On the other hand, NVH characteristics of the new 2017 Cadenza have been boosted by the additional acoustic absorbing laminate in the front windows and windshield as well as a full floorpan undercover. Moreover, insulation around the A-pillars has been increased to make the interior as quiet as possible with the floorpan undercover helping improve the vehicle’s aerodynamics.

Front wheel air curtains also help reduce drag around the tires. Overall, Kia managed to boost the Cadenza’s coefficient of drag from 0.29 to 0.28. Accentuating the side of the 2017 Kia Cadenza are 18- or 19-inch alloy wheels wrapped in the available Michelin2 tires in sizes P245/45R18 or P245/40R19.

Providing the stopping power for the Cadenza are larger brake rotors, with the front brakes now measuring 12 inches in diameter (from 11 inches) and the rear brakes now longer by 0.1 inch to 11.1 inches. Kia did not fail to make the new 2017 Cadenza focus on the driver as well.

In fact, drivers benefit from a technology-laden cockpit designed to provide a harmonious human-machine interface thanks to its ergonomically intelligent design and intuitive controls as well as to its improved convenience.

It’s also interesting how the new 2017 Cadenza has the Head Up Display (HUD) that shows key information on the windshield just in front of the driver. Kia has also updated the vehicle’s Surround View Monitor with improved software and resolution, allowing this system to provide a clearer bird’s eye view of the area around the vehicle.

The new Cadenza now comes with the Smart Trunk system that opens the trunk lid once the sensor detects the key fob for over three seconds. Also, the new Kia offering features a wireless smartphone charger as well as the latest generation of Kia’s UVO system with Android Auto4 and Apple CarPlay5 as standard.

Customers could also avail of the optional 12-speaker Harman/Kardon system featuring Clari-Fi 6 music restoration technology. Orth Hedrick, vice president of product planning at Kia Motors America, remarked that the new Cadenza -- with its stunning looks and premium refinements – offers more excitement to the large-car segment.

He quipped that everything in the Cadenza – including its cabin, lighter chassis and eight-speed transmission -- has been improved. Kia will commence sales of the second-generation Cadenza in late 2016, with pricing to be disclosed on a date closer to its launch date.

Exterior Design

This amount of power is well-expressed in the exterior styling of the new Cadenza, which was designed at Kia’s California design. It features clean lines balanced by expressive details. Its exterior design was influenced by Kia Chief Design Officer Peter Schreyer’s philosophy that focuses on “the simplicity of the straight line.”

This line is defined by a single gestural contour spanning the vehicle length to create a sleek profile and matches the Z-shaped lighting signatures in the headlights and LED tail lights. Designers visually sheared away the surface area of the new Cadenza to create a more angular shape and to form an overall impression of modernity and power.

The front end of the new Cadenza is both impressive and expressive, thanks to the signature Kia “tiger nose” grille that has evolved into a new hexagonal shape. Along with lines extending underneath the headlights, this grille helps highlight the vehicle’s Cadenza’s visual width.

Moreover, the Cadenza’s grille now features a unique concave form, curving in toward the engine bay to give the vehicle a chiseled fascia. Lower trim models of the Cadenza will feature the “Diamond Butterfly” front grille with the same 3D pattern like many of its Kia siblings.

Higher trim models, meanwhile, will feature the “Intaglio” grille with vertically oriented, faceted blades. At the rear, the Cadenza features “piano key” taillights with LED technology that helps create visual depth and complements the Z-shape lighting signature.

Moreover, the new Kia Cadenza comes with a chrome garnish extending through the trunk lid to highlight its wide stance as well as elegant chrome accents on the side mirrors and rear quarter windows.

Although the 2017 Cadenza is as long as the 2016 model, it is a bit wider and lower in height. Moreover, Kia stretched a bit the wheelbase of the Cadenza, resulting to an increased legroom (nearly half an inch) for rear passengers.

Interestingly, Kia extended the Cadenza’s roofline rearward more than two inches to give the vehicle a sportier profile while maintaining its rear headroom and increasing slightly trunk space.

Interior Design

Inside, the new Kia Cadenza makes use of higher quality materials and higher levels of craftsmanship to make its interior more exquisite and more comfortable. It features soft interior contours countered by sheared surfaces. By providing a wraparound dashboard flowing into the door panels with real stitching, the interior room has been visually widened.

Moreover, designers made use of higher quality soft-touch materials for the door panels with soft leather wrapping the vehicle’s cabin. Customers may also avail of quilted seat bolsters accented by diamond shaped stitching. Likewise, customers could now further customize their Cadenza, especially that the addition of a dark brown interior color brought the number of color combinations to four.

Kia still offers the White Package as an option, although it is now upgraded with the addition of a new black wood-grain-style trim finished with a pearlescent sheen.

On the other hand, Kia lowered the driver’s seat for a sportier and more stable feeling. Kia also slightly extended the seat cushion and even developed a cushion extension mechanism that slides and rotates, thereby allowing drivers to get into their comfort zone easier than before.

Additionally, Kia reengineered the heating elements for the seat warmers to make them distribute warmth more evenly. Moreover, Kia fitted the seat heaters with a smart control system that could automatically lower the heater operating mode following a specific period of time.

All these elements are founded on a body structure that is composed of over 50 percent Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS). This is over twice the amount found in the 2016 Cadenza.


For its latest iteration, the new Cadenza now features a stronger body structure and improved powertrain while offering innovative technology, connectivity and driver assistance.

Serving as the heart of the new Cadenza is a modified version of Kia’s 3.3-liter V6 engine that has been recalibrated to provide around 290 hp while consuming less fuel. Power is transmitted from the engine to the wheels via Kia’s highly efficient FWD-based eight-speed automatic transmission that is capable of providing quick and crisp shifts.

While the new eight-speed transmission has two more cogs than the outgoing unit, it weighs lighter. During the development of the new Cadenza, engineers at Kia also considered durability and reliability.

In fact, engineers had the V6 run at full power and under full-load conditions for 41 days in a row -- equivalent to over 100,000 miles of real-world usage – just to make sure that the 2017 Cadenza is fit enough to last.

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