2017 Kia Cadenza vs Hyundai Sonata

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If you want to see how close two different car segments can be to each other in terms of size, just take a look at the 2017 Kia Cadenza and the Hyundai Sonata. The Cadenza is classified as a full-size sedan while the Sonata goes up against the likes of the Fusion in the midsize realm. As a buyer, though, you’ll likely never pay attention to the labels and instead look at the characteristics of each. So, let’s forget about segments and see how these two compare to each other.

2017 Kia Cadenza vs Hyundai Sonata


This Cadenza is new this year, and its exterior leaves you in no doubt about its desire to become a luxury model. The Cadenza is now sleeker and sportier than it has been in the past, but it still has a handsome and slightly serious presence that suggests something a little more upscale than run-of-the-mill mass-market.

It’s been a couple of years since the Sonata was redesigned, so it doesn’t look as current or contemporary as the Kia. Hyundai went a lot more conservative with this model after the dramatic curves and abundance of metal trim of its predecessor. The Sonata is a decent enough looking car, but it’s not as attractive or as sophisticated as the more desirable Kia.

Power & Performance

There’s just a single powertrain for the Cadenza, a pretty useful 3.3-liter V-6 that puts 290 horsepower and 253 lb.-ft. of torque at your disposal. That power is sent to the front wheels of the Kia through a new eight-speed automatic transmission, which is a smooth, quick shifting unit that works very well here. The Cadenza may look like a sport sedan, but the performance is very much more about comfort and refinement.

By way of total contrast, the Sonata offers several engine options. Base models get a 185 horsepower 2.4-liter inline-four, and the more powerful alternative is the 2.0-liter turbo-four that puts out 245 horsepower. Both engines come mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, but there’s also a seven-speed dual-clutch unit that comes paired to a 1.6-liter inline-four in Eco models that produces 177 horsepower. The choices are welcome, but the V-6 in the Cadenza still gets our vote over the Hyundai’s collection of similar line of four cylinders.

Passenger and Cargo Space

Since the Cadenza is a full-size sedan. there’s bound to be a lot more room inside than there is in the midsize Sonata, right? We’ll, not exactly. The Kia is about four inches longer than the Hyundai, and inside there’s 37.2 inches of rear leg room, 45.5 inches of front leg room, 107.8 cu.-ft. of total passenger volume and 16 cu.-ft. of trunk volume.

Inside the Sonata you’ll find 35.6 inches of rear leg room, 45.5 inches of front leg room, 106.1 cu.-ft. of passenger volume and 16.3 cu.-ft. in the trunk. The Kia wins–but literally by a microscopic margin.

Fuel Economy

With the new eight-speed transmission having two more gears than the old unit, the 2017 Kia Cadenza is now more fuel-efficient than it was. The EPA says you can now get 20 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg combined, which isn’t too shabby for a car of this size with a powerful V-6 under the hood.

The best Sonata figures inevitably come from the Eco and its 1.6-liter inline-four, which is rated at 28 mpg in the city, 36 mpg on the highway and 31 mpg combined. But even the least efficient models with the 2.0-liter turbo get as good as 22/31/26 mpg, so this is a strong win for the Hyundai.

Learn More about the Kia Cadenza

Other than a lack of choice in the engine department, it’s hard to see any issues with the 2017 Kia Cadenza. The Hyundai Sonata is a good midsize sedan that has almost as much room inside as the Kia, but a lack of power and a somewhat homogenous exterior put it firmly behind the Kia.