The Kia Cadenza Is the Best Large Sedan You Shouldn’t Ignore These Days

It’s getting tougher to ignore Kia’s products these days. The Telluride continues to sell as the cliché says, and the Optima beat out the Camry in U.S. News’ ranking. Value is certainly part of the Korean automaker’s appeal, but so is an attractive design. However, despite their strengths, some Kia cars remain somewhat obscure, though they shouldn’t be. The Stinger, for instance, is a genuine BMW and Audi competitor, and significantly more reliable than either. And if you’re after an affordable large sedan, you should be paying attention to the Kia Cadenza.

2020 Kia Cadenza specs and features

2020 Kia Cadenza
2020 Kia Cadenza | Kia

While the current-gen Kia Cadenza has been on sale since 2017, the sedan was updated and restyled for the 2020 model year. It’s expected to hit dealers later in 2020, Motor1 reports.

Previously available in 3 trims, for 2020 the Cadenza will only be available in Technology and Limited, Car and Driver reports. As of this writing, official pricing has not been released. For the 2019 Kia Cadenza, the Technology trim starts at $38,200 and the Limited at $44,100. Car and Driver estimates the 2020 Technology will start at $40k, and the Limited at $45k. The mild price increase is likely due to the updated tech and standard features.

Both trims feature the same 3.3-liter V6 that came with the 2019 model. It still makes 290 hp and is still linked to an 8-speed automatic. However, Car and Driver reports Kia has reportedly made some internal changes to reduce NVH.

2020 Kia Cadenza interior
2020 Kia Cadenza interior | Kia

For 2020, the Kia Cadenza gains a larger 12.3” touchscreen with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and built-in navigation, Motor Trend reports. The gauges are now a TFT display, and the sedan now has more USB ports, remote start, and a wireless charging pad.

Kia has also made automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control standard. The adaptive cruise control actually works with the navigation system to reduce vehicle speed for oncoming curves. In addition, the Cadenza will warn occupants if they try to open their doors into oncoming traffic. Although the IIHS hasn’t crash-tested the 2020 model, the 2019 Cadenza was an IIHS Top Safety Pick.

Car and Driver recommends going for the Kia Cadenza Limited. The trim adds quilter bolsters to the Nappa leather seats, heated rear seats, and ventilation to the heated front seats. However, even the now-base Technology model has a lot to offer.

Kia Cadenza pros and cons

Like Kia’s other vehicles, the Cadenza’s biggest strengths are its value and design.

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Car and Driver calls it “the best full-size sedan on the market” for offering attractive styling and high-quality materials at a very reasonable price. The Cadenza was named Car and Driver’s Editors’ Choice for Best Full-Size Sedan for offering “luxury-car comfort and features” for much less than its “premium-badged rivals.” The pre-redesign 2019 model was also an Editors’ Choice for the same reasons. Plus, it managed to beat its EPA rating in Car and Driver’s testing.

MT also ranked the Kia Cadenza as one of the best large sedans on the market. Its strengths were noted to be a comfortable ride, a large trunk, and again, quality interior materials. reports much the same, ranking the Cadenza 3rd in the Top 5 large sedans on sale today. It’s also Consumer Reports’ 2nd-highest scoring large sedan and delivers an above-average reliability ranking.

However, there are some things to keep in mind about the Kia Cadenza. Firstly, the rear seats don’t fold flat, though there is a pass-through to the trunk. However, notes that it isn’t uncommon. And r/Kia sub-Reddit users report that BMW and Mercedes sedans also tend to just have pass-throughs. This is to make the car more rigid, and reduce the NVH a folding seat could potentially introduce.

Also, while the V6 is smooth and adequately-powerful, you have to really press the throttle to pass someone on the highway. And it’s not particularly exciting to drive—though, it’s not intended to be a sport sedan like the Stinger. Finally, the Kia Cadenza can’t be ordered with all-wheel drive—which isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, with a good set of tires.

Alternative choices

2020 Toyota Avalon TRD
2020 Toyota Avalon TRD | Toyota

If you’re after a similar near-luxury large sedan, MT and also recommend the Toyota Avalon. It’s CR’s #1 large sedan, and for 2020, it can be ordered with AWD. And, like the Kia Cadenza, it offers a quiet, comfortable cabin with premium materials. Plus, for 2020, the Avalon can be ordered with AWD, and there’s a sportier TRD model.

However, the Toyota Avalon can’t be ordered with both the V6 and AWD. Also, it doesn’t offer Android Auto at all.

2019 Kia K900
2019 Kia K900 | Kia

If you want something a bit luxurious, you should also consider the Kia K900. True, it’s roughly $15,000 more expensive than the Cadenza. However, The Drive reports its interior is “95 percent of the way to Audi A8 or Mercedes-Benz S-Class quality and luxury at 60 percent of the price.”

The K900 comes standard with AWD. And, if you want more rear-seat luxury, there’s the VIP Package. It adds power-adjustable rear captain’s chairs with heating and ventilation, and an additional wireless charging pad.

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