Like its stablemates the Telluride, Stinger, and K900, the 2020 Cadenza is a signal of Kia's successful march toward luxury-oriented products. For those in the know, the Cadenza is a worthy offering in a shrinking segment. A refined V-6 engine provides ample power for the Cadenza's relaxed driving dynamics, and we saw highway fuel economy pegged at 31 mpg in our testing. The Cadenza offers solid value in the technology department, too, with a standard 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system and a standard suite of driver-assistance features. Who cares that it doesn't have an Acura or Lexus badge?
What's New for 2020?
The Cadenza receives fresh exterior styling and a redesigned dashboard for 2020. Along with the visual facelift, Kia updated the car's technology features by adding a new 12.3-inch infotainment display and making a suite of driver-assistance features standard, including automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control that uses the now-standard navigation system to prepare for upcoming curves in the road.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
- Technology: $40,000 (est.)
- Limited: $45,000 (est.)
It's honestly hard not to go full-bore and deck out the Cadenza with the top-spec Limited trim. Its leather upholstery, adjustable interior ambient lighting, 19-inch wheels, and a host of other nice-to-haves push it very close to true luxury-sedan rivals in terms of equipment, but for thousands less. If you're being more prudent, the cheaper Technology trim still comes quite well equipped. Bottom line: there's no wrong way to spec a Cadenza.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
While not as quick as its rivals, the Cadenza's V-6 engine is refined and competent. The transmission could be more civilized, but the Smart driving mode makes the most of the powertrain's capabilities. The Cadenza's V-6 makes 290 horsepower and while the engine itself is a smooth operator, initial throttle response is sleepy. This makes the Cadenza easy to drive around town without disturbing your passengers, but it requires a heavy foot for more immediate zip at stoplights. The Limited model that we tested snapped off a 6.7-second zero-to-60-mph run, which isn't exactly slow, but the Nissan Maxima we tested managed an even quicker 5.7-second result. The Cadenza's suspension soaks up bumps admirably and manages to keep body motions in check. The Cadenza's steering is light to the touch; comfort is prioritized over sportiness here, but it's still a competent handler.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
Based on EPA estimates, the Cadenza's fuel economy lags behind rivals such as the Toyota Avalon and the Maxima. In our own testing, however, we found the Cadenza to be fuel efficient, delivering 31 mpg on our 200-mile real-world highway fuel-economy test route despite its EPA rating of 27 mpg.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The 2020 Cadenza's classy, well-built cabin provides the same luxuries as its rivals—and then some. Outward visibility is good, too. A high-quality, elegant interior pulls cues from class-above manufacturers. The leather-trimmed seats, with beautiful quilted panels in our Limited test car, were highly supportive, but the optional ventilated front seats were so weak that we often couldn't tell whether they were cooling our hindquarters. We fit six carry-on suitcases in the Cadenza's trunk, which matches up with the competition. Kia fixed the rear seatbacks in an effort to enhance structural stiffness, so the back seat only has a center pass-through for increased storage. The Maxima, with its foldable second row, is the ideal airport runner.
Infotainment and Connectivity
All Cadenzas come standard with a large 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen that features in-dash navigation and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration as standard. Also provided is UVO eServices, an onboard telematics system that can diagnose a mechanical problem, alert the driver when vehicle maintenance is required, and call for help in the event of an accident. Several USB ports dot the cabin and a wireless smartphone-charging pad is also standard fare.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The Cadenza has not been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but the 2019 model fared well in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's testing. The Cadenza's driver-assistance technology suite is comprehensive and standard. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
- Standard lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist
- Standard adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
When it comes to warranties, few manufacturers can compete with Kia (and its sister company, Hyundai). Five years of roadside assistance is better than average, but Cadenza buyers will have to fend for themselves when it comes to maintenance.
- Limited warranty covers 5 years or 60,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 10 years or 100,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance