$21,922 - $29,434

2018 Kia Cadenza Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2018 Kia Cadenza was new.

Scorecard

Performance: 8.0

The Cadenza's engine provides decent acceleration, but it’s not as powerful as some of its rivals. The eight-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and is always able to find the right gear. Although the ride is a bit firmer than most affordable large cars, the 2018 Kia Cadenza rides comfortably on the highway and has composed handling.

  • "Kia doesn't bill the Cadenza as a sport sedan, despite shift paddles on the steering wheel and selectable driving mode function that includes 'Sport.' Yet keeping that in mind, the big Cadenza felt at home on the two-lane highways we encountered, although it is clearly more in its element when cruising long stretches of open road." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • "Rather than spirited driving, a car like this is about sitting back and enjoying the ride. The new Cadenza provides that without being sloppy." -- Cars.com (2017)
  • If there's a penalty for the big engine's application, it's at the pump, and it pretty much applies to the whole class." -- Autoblog (2017)

Acceleration and Power

The Cadenza features a 3.3-liter V6 engine that puts out 290 horsepower. It’s mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The engine has ample power for moving this big sedan, but the Cadenza lacks the acceleration you’ll find in some rivals. The transmission pairs well with the engine and delivers timely shifts.

The Cadenza gets an EPA-estimated 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. Those are fairly typical ratings for a car in this class.

  • "Kia's new in-house eight-speed automatic transmission uses two extra gears [to] help keep the engine at peak power. This means the new Cadenza accelerates quicker than the old one, while still being more efficient. From a dead stop to eighth gear, the transmission shifts smoothly." -- Autoweek (2017)
  • "The Cadenza downshifts predictably as you press your foot farther and farther into the pedal stroke, avoiding the sudden triple or even quadruple downshifts that plague some modern nine-speed transmissions. The combo feels well-matched to the chassis, offering plenty of torque and easily rushing the Cadenza to triple-digit speeds when you call for it, and you're almost never left wishing for a lower gear." -- Autoblog (2017)
  • "Acceleration from the Cadenza's 3.3L V6 is good, but falls below the punch you'll find in rivals like the aforementioned Buick or the Nissan Maxima. At just under 3,800 pounds, the Cadenza at least doesn't have a lot of mass to carry around." -- Left Lane News (2017)

Handling and Braking

The Cadenza comes with front-wheel drive and lets you choose between three driving modes (Normal, Sport, and Eco) that tailor driving dynamics to provide better handling or better fuel economy. It rides smoothly most of the time, and it handles capably. It’s far from athletic, however, and it feels like a large car when cornering.

  • While the Cadenza corners soundly, with no drama, its handling is rather mundane. Body lean is fairly well contained. The steering is responsive enough initially, but more challenging corners require a fair amount of additional input and the car begins to show its reluctance to turn. The Cadenza is a large front-wheel-drive car and it feels it." -- Consumer Reports
  • "The steering is actually better than fine, offering good effort in corners, and very good straight-line stability." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • Steering in the Cadenza isn't heavy, but it required more effort than we expected. Likewise, the Cadenza doesn't crash over road imperfections, but its suspension is on the firmer side for a vehicle in this category." -- Left Lane News (2017)

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