Kia has come a long way since its introduction to the U.S. way back in 1994, and it continues to make great strides. A company that once ranked very last on the J.D. Power Initial Quality has climbed all the way to the first slot as of June 2016. With intentions to invest $12 billion in the coming years to make cleaner, greener automobiles, they are proving to the world they are here to stay. However, it hasn’t been enough for Kia, and they have decided to reintroduce the Cadenza which was their first model to launch the brand into the world of luxury cars. In the backwoods of Virginia, I was able to take on the winding roads of horse country to get a feel for what the 2017 Cadenza could do, and I was intrigued by its overall performance. The thick, green forests and historic charm made it the perfect setting to test drive such a swanky new ride. It is no surprise people stay brand loyal to Kia when they continue to raise the bar.
In 2013, the Cadenza was thrust upon the market going head to head with luxury brands. Now, with over 28,000 Cadenza’s on the road, Kia is refining the model to capture the idea of automotive opulence. Ray Ng, the principal exterior designer, was eager to redesign the Cadenza with clean, masculine lines that embrace the beautiful simplicity of the straight line. Like a finely tuned athlete, this car can flex some muscle without the need to bulk up on steroids. The Z tail lights and LED piano key lighting give a unique flair to the car while the iconic tiger nose has received some upgrades. The recognizable Diamond Butterfly Mesh is still available, but Intaglio is now an option with metal bars vertically flanking the grille which makes the car look like it is smirking at anyone that might catch a glimpse of it in their rearview. That is exactly what Kia has been striving for in the past 22 years…Making other cars on the road jealous.
We made plenty of onlookers jealous in Middleburg, VA, where we enjoyed the grounds at the sprawling Salamander Resort and Spa. With the Appalachian Mountains off in the distance, we hit the road for a test drive with our shiny new Cadenza glistening in the 95 degree heat. In the same state where George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were born, we drove among the hills and rolling farms hugging those sharp curves with the precise steering and smooth handling. Along the drive, we made our way through the George Washington National Forest as well as stopping to check out some of the wineries along the way. Virginia is home to over 250 wineries quietly tucked away in the countryside. While we didn’t partake in any wine tasting, we did catch some breathtaking scenery along the way. The amazing sunroof provided uninhibited views of the dense forest canopy above and let the sunshine in while we stayed cool on the inside. The relaxed interior was a refreshing break from the blistering sun.
The lush interior accompanies the sleek exterior design. It is inviting while still marrying comfort with functionality. The horizontal design elements open up the width and give riders a feeling of space, but that spacious feel can also be attributed to the 107.8 cubic feet which is more passenger room than all other segment competitors. Nappa leather and genuine stitching cover the seats with cloudlike comfort. An 8 inch LCD screen rests in the instrument panel and the car features wireless smartphone charging. In the backseat, there are retractable sunscreens on the windows for any little ones that might be cruising with you.
As always, Kia is dedicated to safety, and the 2017 Cadenza has doubled the high strength steel and introduced hot stamp steel, reducing the weight of the car as well as giving the car a six fold increase in its structural adhesives. These adhesives hold the car together and evenly distribute the load which aids in the event of a crash. All of these elements increase the torsional rigidity giving the car a stiffer feel on the road allowing for more accurate steering. Kia also built a 6 speed automatic transmission in house and added two more gears. From first to eighth gear, there is greater span in the ratios creating fuel efficiency and better responsiveness allowing your steering to be a fluid motion from hand to wheel. The 2017 Cadenza will also have available safety features designed with the hazards of the modern world in mind. They include
- Driver Assistance
- Advanced Smart Cruise Control
- Smart Blind Spot Detection (A Kia 1st)
- Autonomous Emergency Braking
- Front Collision Warning
- High Beam Assist
- Lane Departure Warning System
- 9 Airbags including a driver’s knee airbag (Also a Kia 1st)
The 3.3 liter direct injected V6 engine has been revised from the first generation with improved power and reduced emissions. It gives the Cadenza 290 horsepower and 253 lbs of torque with 20 mpg city and 28 highway with 23 combined. You can hit 60 mph in about 6.2 seconds. While you won’t be drag racing, there is still plenty of pick up and go.
Considering we were in horse country, it only made sense that we get a little taste of the equestrian world. Kia brought in an Olympic Gold Medal winner to give an equestrian demonstration. It was a fantastic example of athletic showmanship which was an apt metaphor for the Cadenza’s design and performance. Kia went above and beyond to showcase the hard work and collaborative thought that went into recreating the Cadenza. The laidback beauty of Virginia, and the luxury of the Salamander Resort was the perfect way to experience Kia’s continued venture in creating cars of a greater caliber. From the fabulous resort grounds to the historical impersonators (Yes! There were even Washington and Jefferson impersonators!), Kia managed to surround the 2017 Cadenza Introduction with old world charm and class.
The drive with Cadenza has made me consider buying one for my own family. With only one child, I don’t need a bulky oversized vehicle, and to be completely honest, a part of me still wants a car that looks cool even when I am grabbing groceries. The Cadenza would be one of the few cars I could use to haul my family without feeling like I am trapped in the “family car”. The Cadenza is functional without sacrificing beauty or affordability. Available in October this year, the Cadenza comes in three trims and starts at about $32,000. It will be top on my Christmas wish list.
***Disclosure: I attended the #DiscoverCadenza Event My flight, lodgings, and expenses were covered by Kia All opinions are 100% mine. ***