Kia continues to redefine the meaning of "near luxury," and the Cadenza is another solid example of its success. It not only represents a solid value but also provides plenty of features throughout its model range. Inside its well-built cabin is room for four adults to stretch out in comfort, and the luxe features only get better the further up its range you climb. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability are standard features, and highly sought-after driver-assistance tech—automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and more—is provided as standard on the midrange Technology trim and the top-spec Limited. That the Cadenza wears a handsome and upscale design is icing on the automotive cake.
What's New for 2019?
Kia has made blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, rear parking sensors, and power-folding side mirrors all standard on the Cadenza Premium. The rest of the equipment that was part of last year's Luxury package on the Cadenza Premium (auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink, in-dash navigation, Harman/Kardon premium audio, an 8.0-inch infotainment screen, and more) is now moved up to be standard equipment on the midrange Technology model.
Kia Cadenza Pricing and Which One to Buy
- Premium: $34,095
- Technology: $39,195
- Limited: $45,095
We recommend the midrange Technology trim as it calls up many modern and luxury items that attract buyers in this segment, including a panoramic sunroof, an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, a 12-speaker Harman/Kardon audio system, and proximity-approach lighting. All of the Cadenza's driver-assistance technologies also come as standard on this midrange trim and on the top-spec Limited model.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Likes: Velvety-smooth engine, plenty powerful enough for its mission, agreeable ride quality.
Dislikes: Other full-size sedans are quicker, enthusiast drivers won't be satisfied.
While not as quick as its rivals, the Cadenza's V-6 engine is extremely 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 required a heavy foot for more immediate zip at stoplights.
At our test track, the Limited model that we tested snapped off a 6.7-second zero-to-60-mph run, which isn't exactly slow, but the Buick LaCrosse we tested managed an even quicker 5.9-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 LaCrosse, the Toyota Avalon, and the Nissan 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, Infotainment, and Cargo
Likes: Well-appointed cabin, standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, useful trunk space.
Dislikes: Rear seats don't fold, cubby storage bins are on the small side, weak optional ventilated seats.
The 2019 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. A base 7.0- or optional 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen is set above a control panel; Technology and Limited models have a second 7.0-inch display located between two gauges and provides trip information to the driver. The leather-trimmed seats, with beautiful quilted panels in our Limited test car, were highly supportive. The optional ventilated front seats were so weak that we often couldn't tell whether they were cooling our hindquarters.
Base Cadenzas, oddly known as the Premium trim level, have a 7.0-inch UVO infotainment touchscreen; Technology and Limited trims have an 8.0-inch display. The UVO infotainment icons could be bigger for ease of use while driving. Kia's decision to include Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard across the range was a smart one, as both add familiar functionality to the system. All models have 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.
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 second row only has a center pass-through for increased storage. The Maxima, with its foldable second row, is the ideal airport runner.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The Cadenza has not been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but it fared well in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's testing. The Cadenza's driver-assistance technology is comprehensive, and it is standard starting on the mid-level Technology trim, with simpler features, such as blind-spot monitoring, offered on the base Premium model. Key safety features include:
- Available automated emergency braking
- Available lane-keeping assist
- Available 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