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MSRP: $32,290 - 44,690

8.7

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.8
Performance: 8.0
Interior: 8.6
Safety: 10.0
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2018 Kia Cadenza Review

The 2018 Kia Cadenza sits near the top of our rankings, thanks to its top-notch cabin, an above-average predicted reliability rating, and long list of features. However, its touch screen can be laggy, and its trunk is on the small side.

Pros & Cons

  • Upscale cabin
  • Lots of features
  • Touch screen unresponsive at times
  • Below-average trunk space

Is the Kia Cadenza a Good Car?

Absolutely – the Kia Cadenza is one of the highest-rated large cars. The Cadenza's combination of space, driver assistance features, and positive automotive feedback is a testament to this, which is why it's the winner of our 2018 Best Large Car for Families award. The Kia's quality cabin is something you'd expect to find in a more upscale vehicle. It not only features high-grade materials, but it also has a lot of standard and available technology. Yet, some rivals have more responsive infotainment systems and larger trunks. The Cadenza is competent and capable on the road, but it favors cruising over sporty driving.  

Should I Buy the Kia Cadenza?

If you're looking for a large car, you should consider the Kia Cadenza. With its above-average predicted reliability, reasonable price, lengthy features list, and high-end interior, the Cadenza is a great value for the money. However, you’ll still want to check out other worthy competitors like the Buick LaCrosse and Toyota Avalon.

Compare the Cadenza, Avalon, and LaCrosse »

Should I Buy a New or Used Kia Cadenza?

The Kia Cadenza was completely redesigned for the 2017 model year, and the 2018 Kia Cadenza is practically identical. You could potentially save money by opting for a 2017 Cadenza over the newer 2018 model. Check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2017 and 2018 Kia Cadenza »
We Did the Research for You: 20 Reviews Analyzed

Our car reviews include everything you need to know before heading to the dealership. We combine the opinions of the automotive press with quantifiable data like crash test results and reliability ratings to form a complete picture of every vehicle we rank. This 2018 Kia Cadenza review uses relevant research and data from the 2017 and 2018 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking vehicles since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of combined experience in the automotive industry. Our car reviews are objective. To keep them that way, our editorial staff doesn’t accept expensive gifts or trips from automakers, and a third party handles all the advertising on our site.

How Much Does the Kia Cadenza Cost?

The Cadenza’s retail price is a little more than $32,000, which is about average for a large car. There are a couple of higher trims, with the highest starting a bit under $45,000. That’s reasonable for a fully loaded large car.

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 also ranks very high in the large car class, but it also has a slightly higher price. While the Avalon has more standard safety features, the Cadenza has more available connectivity technology. Both vehicles have plenty of space in their comfortable, upscale cabins. However, the Avalon stands out when it comes to performance. Its athletic handling sets it apart from the Cadenza. On the other hand, the Cadenza is better suited for cruising.

Which Is Better: Kia Cadenza or Buick LaCrosse?

The Buick LaCrosse has many of the same features as the Cadenza, and it has a lower starting price to boot. It adds features that the Cadenza doesn't offer, including a Wi-Fi hot spot and a Teen Driver monitoring system. Performance is where the LaCrosse truly shines. While the Kia has underwhelming acceleration and dull handling, the LaCrosse has a powerful available V6 engine and lithe handling. That said, look to one of the higher LaCrosse trims to get to the Cadenza’s level of luxury and features. For a lower starting price and superior performance, go with the LaCrosse. Choose the Cadenza if you're looking for a near-luxury interior.

Compare the Cadenza, Avalon, and LaCrosse »

Cadenza Interior

How Many People Does the Cadenza Seat?

The Cadenza seats five people. The rear seats have lots of legroom, but the roofline limits headroom for taller passengers. The front seats are comfortable and highly adjustable. There are many standard and available seating features.

Cadenza and Car Seats

There are two full sets of LATCH car-seat connectors in the Cadenza. There aren’t any issues with the tether anchors, but the lower anchors could be easier to use.

Cadenza Interior Quality

This Kia has a nicer cabin than many large cars. There are plenty of soft-touch materials, though you'll find some plastics, and the overall level of quality throughout the Cadenza’s attractive cabin rivals that of some luxury cars.

Cadenza Cargo Space

The Cadenza has a smaller trunk than many competitors, but it still provides 16 cubic feet of space. That’s enough room for about a dozen shopping bags or four sets of golf clubs.

Cadenza Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The Cadenza comes standard with dual-zone automatic climate control and Kia’s UVO infotainment system, which features an eight-speaker audio system, a 7-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, USB and auxiliary ports, satellite radio, and Bluetooth.

Available features include a panoramic sunroof, navigation with an 8-inch touch screen, a 12-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system, and wireless device charging.

While it’s nice that the Cadenza comes standard with connectivity features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the UVO infotainment system could be more refined. It’s intuitive and has easy-to-use controls, but some of them are hard to reach, and the touch screen responds slowly to inputs at times.

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto? Then, see the Best Cars With Apple CarPlay and Best Cars With Android Auto.

Read more about interior »

Cadenza Performance

Cadenza Engine: 1 V6 Choice

The Cadenza comes standard with a 290-horsepower V6, and that’s the only engine option with this Kia. It delivers enough power for most driving situations, but it doesn’t match the acceleration you get with some competitors’ engines. The eight-speed transmission delivers well-timed shifts.

Cadenza Gas Mileage: Decent for the Class

The Cadenza gets typical fuel economy for the class, though you can find rivals that are marginally more efficient. This Kia gets 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. Rivals like the Buick LaCrosse and Toyota Avalon get 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.

Cadenza Ride and Handling: A Cruising Vehicle

The Cadenza is certainly no sports sedan (not that it aims to be). This is a large car that’s more lumbering than agile around turns, though it remains poised. It rides smoothly over most road surfaces.

Read more about performance »

Cadenza Reliability

Is the Kia Cadenza Reliable?

The 2018 Kia Cadenza has an above-average predicted reliability rating of four 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. Those are better warranty terms than you’ll get with many other large cars.

Read more about reliability »

Cadenza Safety

Cadenza Crash Test Results

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the 2018 Kia Cadenza a Top Safety Pick. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not crash tested the 2018 Cadenza.

Cadenza Safety Features

The Cadenza comes standard with a rearview camera. Available driver assistance features include a head-up display, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning with automatic braking, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and a 360-degree camera with parking sensors.

Read more about safety »

Which Kia Cadenza Model Is Right for Me?

There are three Cadenza trims, all of which come with a 290-horsepower V6 engine, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive.

The base trim (the Cadenza Premium) comes with a lot of standard tech features, and with a starting price several thousand dollars below the midtier Technology trim, you may find that sticking with the base trim is the smartest choice. However, the higher trims have several additional driver assistance features and a few additional comfort and convenience features, so they might be worth the money for some buyers.

Kia Cadenza Premium

The base Premium trim starts at $32,290 and comes standard with a rearview camera, Bluetooth, dual-zone automatic climate control, 18-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, heated front seats, an eight-speaker sound system, and Kia’s UVO infotainment system, which includes a 7-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and satellite radio.

You can add features like navigation, blind spot monitoring, and a panoramic sunroof to this trim.

Kia Cadenza Technology

The Technology trim starts at $39,290 and comes with features found in the base trim as well as a panoramic sunroof, a 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, wireless smartphone charging, smart blind spot detection, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, a heated steering wheel, and an upgraded UVO infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen, voice-command navigation, and real-time traffic conditions.

There aren’t a lot of noteworthy available features for this trim.

Kia Cadenza Limited

The top-of-the-line Limited trim starts at $44,690. It comes with almost every feature you can get in a Cadenza. Like the Technology trim, the Limited doesn’t have any notable optional features.

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 2018 Kia Cadenza specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2018 Kia Cadenza is a large sedan that makes a great cruising vehicle and has maybe the nicest interior of any car in the class. These are some of the reasons it finishes near the top of our large car rankings and why it deserves a look from anyone in the market for a large sedan.

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

  • "Ultimately, the well-rounded Cadenza competes well in the narrow market segment of 'big' cars such as the Buick LaCrosse, Impala, Chrysler 300, Ford Taurus, and Avalon. The Cadenza proves that Kia should no longer be considered as a second-tier value brand." -- Consumer Reports
  • "Kia's redesign of the 2017 Cadenza significantly refines a car for buyers who want the stretch-out space and feature glut of a full-size luxury sedan at the price of an entry-level compact car from an established luxury brand." -- Cars.com (2017)
  • "Not long ago, Kia vehicles were unimpressive, indistinguishable, virtually invisible copycat cars to which few consumers paid much attention. Those days are long gone, a fact made more apparent with the introduction of each new and redesigned model. The 2017 Kia Cadenza is merely the latest example of the company's hard-fought effort to reinvent itself, and consumers will only continue to benefit as the automaker writes each new chapter of its history." -- New York Daily News (2017)
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