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2020 Kia Cadenza Review

The 2020 Kia Cadenza ranks near the top of the large car class. It has a handsome cabin, a laundry list of standard equipment, and generous passenger space.

Pros & Cons

  • Many standard features
  • Spacious seats
  • Classy cabin
  • Long warranty
  • Middling acceleration from a stop
  • No split-folding rear seats

New for 2020

  • More standard features
  • New 12.3-inch touch screen now standard
  • Refreshed interior and exterior styling

Rankings & Research

The 2020 Kia Cadenza's #1 ranking is based on its score within the Large Cars category. Currently the Kia Cadenza has a score of 8.3 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 22 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

8.3

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.9
Performance: 7.4
Interior: 8.0
Safety:
This rating isn’t available yet for the current model year. In the meantime, last year’s rating of 9.9 for safety is being used to calculate this vehicle’s overall score.
TBD
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

 Is the Kia Cadenza a Good Car?

Yes, the Kia Cadenza is a great vehicle with very few weaknesses. It comes loaded with safety features, as well a straightforward infotainment system. The cabin is wrapped in premium materials, and there’s plenty of passenger room, even in the rear seats. In most other respects, such as trunk space, engine power, and ride quality, this sedan is good rather than great. For many large-car shoppers, however, that’s all it needs to be. Keep in mind though that this Kia costs more than most of its rivals. 

Should I Buy the Kia Cadenza?

If you're looking for a handsome and comfortable car, the Kia Cadenza is a great option. However, there are many other vehicles to consider, some of which are more affordable. The Nissan Maxima is a bit more agile. Luxury-minded shoppers might want to consider the more upscale Kia K900. If you don’t need the extra room, you might even consider a midsize car, such as the Kia Optima or Hyundai Sonata.

Compare the Cadenza, Maxima, and K900 »

Should I Buy a New or Used Kia Cadenza?

Kia last redesigned the Cadenza sedan for the 2017 model year, and it receives a refresh for 2020. The new Cadenza gets updated exterior styling and a brand-new, standard 12.3-inch touch screen. Several previously optional features become standard, including forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, and remote start, while a blind spot view monitor is added to the available features list.

If you’re interested in these updates, stick with a new Cadenza. Otherwise, an older vehicle may suit your preferences. Note that if smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto are important to you, you'll need to look for a 2017 or newer Cadenza.

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2017 Cadenza, 2018 Cadenza, and 2019 Cadenza reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts you can find on used vehicles.

Compare the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Cadenza »

We Did the Research for You: 22 Reviews Analyzed

Our goal is to provide you with the information you need to make car shopping a breeze. You'll find everything you need to know about the Cadenza in our comprehensive review. It combines concrete data like fuel economy estimates and predicted reliability ratings with professional evaluations from 22 automotive sources. This 2020 Cadenza review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2017.

Why You Can Trust Us

We’ve been reviewing cars since 2007, and our Best Cars team has more than 75 years of combined automotive experience. We also award the Best Cars for the Money, Best Cars for Families, and Best Vehicle Brands on an annual basis. To ensure our impartiality, a third party handles our advertising, and we don't accept expensive gifts from automakers.

How Much Does the Kia Cadenza Cost?

The 2020 Cadenza has a starting price of $37,850, which makes it more expensive than every other base model in the class. 

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Kia dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Kia deals page.

Kia Cadenza Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Kia Cadenza or Toyota Avalon?

The Toyota Avalon is another high-ranking large car. Like the Cadenza, it has user-friendly tech features, lots of driver aids, and a premium interior with top-notch materials. The Avalon is a better choice if you want a slightly stronger engine and better acceleration. It also has split-folding rear seats, which means it can accommodate more cargo. However, the Kia makes sense if you value standard tech features. It comes with a larger standard touch screen, as well as Android Auto, which isn’t offered in the Toyota.

Which Is Better: Kia Cadenza or Kia Optima?

The Kia Optima is a midsize car with a significantly lower price than the Cadenza. Naturally, the larger Cadenza has more passenger space, and the smaller Optima gets better fuel economy estimates. Both vehicles have similarly sized trunks, high-end cabin materials, coddling rides, and comparable feature lists. Both are great choices, but the Optima has a better predicted reliability rating. Also, it’s available in hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants.

Compare the Cadenza, Avalon, and Optima »

Cadenza Interior

How Many People Does the Cadenza Seat?

The Kia Cadenza seats five people on leather upholstery. Heated front seats, a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, an eight-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel are standard. You can upgrade to quilted leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, a 14-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, a 10-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, heated rear outboard seats, and a heated steering wheel.

Cadenza and Child Car Seats

There are two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the rear outboard seats.

Cadenza Interior Quality

The Cadenza’s cabin pushes close to luxury territory. There are premium materials such as soft plastics and leather-trimmed surfaces throughout.

Cadenza Cargo Space

With 16 cubic feet, this Kia has roughly the same amount of trunk space as most of its rivals. There is a rear-seat pass-through, but the rear seats themselves do not fold down.

Cadenza Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

This Kia's standard features include a 12.3-inch touch screen, smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a wireless device charger, a navigation system, satellite radio, HD Radio, an eight-speaker stereo, Bluetooth, and four USB ports. A Harman Kardon stereo with 12 speakers is available.

It’s relatively easy to use the infotainment system. The touch screen is large, menus are easy to read, and there are physical controls for some settings. However, a few of these controls, such as the audio tuning knob, are hard to reach.

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

Cadenza Performance

Cadenza Engine: Solid B

The sole available engine for this sedan is a 3.3-liter V6 that makes 290 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The engine is strong, and you won’t have trouble passing cars on the freeway. However, you have to really step on the gas to accelerate quickly from a stop. The automatic transmission makes smooth, prompt shifts.

Cadenza Gas Mileage: Fine

The Cadenza gets an EPA-estimated 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. That’s in line with many class rivals.

Cadenza Ride and Handling: Quietly Confident

The Kia provides a cushioned ride. A few jolts can penetrate the cabin when you run over particularly sharp bumps, but for the most part, ride quality is refined. While it’s not a corner-carver, this vehicle has composed handling. Front-wheel drive is standard.

Read more about performance »

Cadenza Reliability

Is the Kia Cadenza Reliable?

The 2020 Kia Cadenza has a slightly above-average predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

Kia Cadenza Warranty

Kia covers the Cadenza with a five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. This is one of the longest warranties in the industry.

Read more about reliability »

Cadenza Safety

Cadenza Crash Test Results

Neither the National Highway Traffic Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has fully crash tested the 2020 Kia Cadenza. The IIHS gave the Cadenza the highest rating of Superior for its standard vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention system and the midlevel rating of Advanced for its standard vehicle-to-pedestrian system.

Cadenza Safety Features

This large sedan comes with a bevy of driver assistance features. Kia’s standard Drive Wise system includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, lane follow assist, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control. Also standard are reverse automatic braking, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, navigation-based cruise control, a driver condition monitor, and Safe Exit Assist, which alerts exiting occupants when approaching traffic is detected.

Available driver aids include a park assist system, a surround-view parking camera system, and a blind spot view monitor that displays the driver’s blind spots on the gauge cluster.

Read more about safety »

Cadenza Dimensions and Weight

The Cadenza is about 16.4 feet long. Kia has not released the Cadenza's curb or gross vehicle weight as of this writing.

Where Is the 2020 Kia Cadenza Built?

Kia builds the 2020 Cadenza in South Korea.

Which Kia Cadenza Model Is Right for Me?

Kia offers the 2020 Cadenza in two trim levels: Technology and Limited.

We recommend the base Technology trim. It comes with lots of, well, technology, including many comfort features, a new infotainment system, and an abundance of driver assistance tech.

Kia Cadenza Technology

The Technology trim has a base MSRP of $37,850. Standard equipment includes a 12.3-inch touch screen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a navigation system, an eight-speaker stereo, satellite radio, HD Radio, a wireless device charger, Bluetooth, four USB ports, proximity keyless entry, remote start, a hands-free trunk, dual-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable and heated front seats, leather seats, alloy wheels, and a panoramic sunroof.

Safety features include lane departure warning, lane keep assist, lane follow assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, automatic high-beam headlights, adaptive cruise control, navigation-based cruise control, forward collision warning, reverse automatic emergency braking, pedestrian and cyclist detection, a driver condition monitor, Safe Exit Assist, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

Kia Cadenza Limited

The Limited trim (MSRP: $43,550) adds Nappa leather seats, additional power adjustments for the front seats, ventilated front seats, heated rear outboard seats, a heated and power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 12-speaker Harman Kardon stereo, a surround-view parking camera system, a blind spot view monitor, a park assist system, and larger alloy wheels.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Kia dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Kia deals page.

See 2020 Kia Cadenza specs and trims »

The Final Call

The Kia Cadenza is a great large car with many appealing attributes, including a premium interior, generous passenger room, and a blissful ride. It also comes with lots of standard safety features, and it boasts a longer warranty than most of its rivals. As far as comfortable family haulers go, the Cadenza is a good choice.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "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." -- Car and Driver
  • "The large, second-generation Cadenza proves again to be a pleasant, upscale sedan that favors accommodations and power but dynamic prowess is not its strong suit. It is very roomy, with a smooth powertrain, decent fuel economy, and easy to use controls. While it doesn't delight in terms of ride and handling, Kia's competitively-priced large sedan does plenty of things right. Ultimately it's one of the top scoring models in the large sedan class." -- Consumer Reports
  • "If you're committed to an affordable luxury sedan, the 2020 Kia Cadenza is a fine choice. We like it for its passenger space, long warranty, and long list of standard features." -- Edmunds 
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