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Kia's 2017 Cadenza rolls into New York with a new face, less weight

It’s easy to forget that the Kia Cadenza exists. There’s nothing wrong with it, but being stuck between the plusher, rear-wheel drive K900 and the higher volume midsize Optima, there isn’t exactly a lot of room for this sedan to shine.

Debuting at the 2016 New York Auto Show, the 2017 Kia Cadenza is an all-new model. Kia changed everything from the body structure to the grille in an attempt to make a better large sedan. Will that be enough to get people to notice?

Like the outgoing model, the 2017 Cadenza makes the most of Kia’s attractive corporate design language. It seems Kia took the same “if it ain’t broke” approach it did with the 2016 Optima, focusing on refinement rather than a complete rethink. The restyle includes a new hexagonal version of Kia’s “tiger grille,” with two versions. Base models will get a “Diamond Butterfly” grille patterned on other Kia models, while upscale models will sport an “Intaglio” grille.

Related: 2017 Kia Sportage first drive

Underneath the new skin is a completely new body structure that is more than 50 percent high-strength steel. That, along with aluminum parts like the steering knuckles, helps reduce weight. Kia also says structural rigidity has improved by 35 percent over the previous Cadenza. Under the hood sits a 3.3-liter V6, which produces an estimated 290 horsepower, according to Kia. The V6 is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, Kia’s first eight-speed in a front-wheel drive car. Kia also replaced the 16-bit control unit for the electric power steering with a 32-bit unit, which it says yields better responses.

New tech includes a head-up display that can show speed and turn-by-turn directions, an auto-opening “Smart Trunk,” and wireless phone charging. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard, while a 12-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system is available as an option. Buyers can also spec adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, forward collision warning with automatic braking, lane departure warning, and a blind-spot detection system that uses the brakes to tug the car back into its lane.

The 2017 Kia Cadenza goes on sale later this year. Pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date.