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The 1 Kia Model Everybody Loves to Ignore

South Korean automaker Kia is known for its variety of vehicles, providing space and amenities at affordable prices. While sales numbers continue to grow for many models, one of Kia’s vehicles gets less attention than them all. In fact, you may not even know that the automaker still makes the car. And that’s because it’s the least-popular and most-ignored Kia of them all.

The Kia model consumers ignore the most

Some people may not even know that the Cadenza sedan exists, and there’s a reason for that. While many of Kia’s vehicles sell at enormous rates and are some of the most popular consumer-bought vehicles in America, the Cadenza simply isn’t one of them. The South Korean automaker is known for making quality vehicles at bargain prices, and that may be the reason the premium Kia Cadenza sedan goes by generally unnoticed.

According to the company’s sales numbers, the Cadenza is the second-worst-selling vehicle in its lineup. Only the K900 sold less in 2019, but as a full-size luxury sedan, it’s easy to see why. Popular Kia vehicles like the Sorento, Soul, and Optima reached sales numbers of 95,951, 98,033, and 96,623 by the end of 2019, respectively.

Other less-impressive sales numbers include 89,278 and 24,467 for the Sportage and Niro. But the Cadenza’s sales numbers are less impressive still, only selling 1,630 for the entire year. If the Cadenza is so unpopular, why does Kia keep updating it?

Kia won’t give up on the Cadenza

2017 Kia Cadenza is on display at the 109th Annual Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place
The Kia Cadenza | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Sales numbers have never been great for the Cadenza; it’s ignored in favor of cheaper and more economical options. But that hasn’t stopped Kia from trying every year to improve the Cadenza enough to make it a contender.

According to Auto Blog, the 2020 Kia Cadenza comes as close as possible to matching the luxury you’d expect for the premium price tag with improvements inside and out. Looking much like its Korean-market cousin, the new Cadenza gets sleek exterior styling and a beautiful, 12-inch panoramic touchscreen on the interior. Also included is the Drive Wise suite of driver assistance features as standard equipment.

But aside from some design updates that bring the Cadenza closer to its competition, the Cadenza stays mostly the same mechanically. Though Kia certainly is dedicated to making improvements that will draw in modern buyers, it seems Kia is reasonably reluctant on its investment of the Cadenza’s future.

Is the Cadenza worth ignoring?

Even though the Cadenza is considered Kia’s “premium”-level sedan, it’s still reasonably priced. According to Consumer Reports, the 2020 Cadenza has a base price of around $33,000; far from the laps of luxury. But with passenger cars and SUVs at competitive prices throughout the market, there are plenty of options for less money.

Seemingly stuck in limbo, the Cadenza is too expensive to be considered a bargain and not expensive enough to be considered luxury. According to MotorTrend, the Cadenza is “nearly invisible to upscale sedan buyers.” Don’t let the starting price fool you, however, because the Cadenza could really be worth it. 

Experts at Consumer Reports give the 2020 Kia Cadenza an impressive overall score of 85 (out of 100) and rank it as second among comparable large cars. Giving it its seal of recommendation, the Kia Cadenza also receives a predicted reliability rating of four (out of five) and a super-high road test score of 91 (out of 100).

In fact, after a drive, Consumer Reports’ experts say that the 2020 Kia Cadenza “proves again to be a pleasant, upscale sedan that favors accommodations and power.” And Car and Driver doesn’t see much of a problem with the Cadenza either, giving the 2020 Kia Cadenza a decent four-out-of-five score for its “velvety-smooth engine, luxury cabin without a luxury price,” as well as Kia’s impressive warranty.