2020 Kia Cadenza

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2020
The Car Connection
2020
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Brian León Brian León Contributing Writer
July 7, 2020

Buying tip

The 2020 Cadenza is a thorough refresh with much-improved standard features, so choose one over a 2019 model if you’re at the dealership.

features & specs

Limited Sedan
Technology Sedan
MPG
20 city / 28 hwy
MPG
20 city / 28 hwy
MSRP
$43,550
MSRP
$37,850

The 2020 Kia Cadenza is visually sharpened and features an improved infotainment system and options list.

The 2020 Kia Cadenza gets a new face while it carries on unchanged under the hood. It’s still a comfortable, spacious large sedan with impressive value. We give it a TCC Rating of 6.8 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

For 2020, the Cadenza receives an extensive visual refresh featuring new exterior styling, a bigger updated infotainment screen inside, and several features upgrades to make it more enticing to a shrinking customer base. Active safety features are also standard this year, improving on an area where the Cadenza could stand an upgrade.

With its new duds, the Cadenza looks sleeker and more upscale than before. The thinner headlights, full-width taillight design, and tweaks to the interior keep what was already a handsome sedan looking fresh.

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A 3.3-liter V-6 with an 8-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive is the only powertrain option and makes a solid 290 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque. It’s not as speedy as some other large sedans but does provide quiet confidence in acceleration to match the Cadenza’s smooth ride quality. Handling is predictable rather than engaging, but the steering rack features more weight than expected.

The full-size Cadenza seats five adults easily, and four comfortably. Front and rear passengers have more than enough interior space both down low and up high, and the trunk swallows an impressive 16 cubic feet of stuff. Material quality is as good as we’ve come to expect from Kia recently, which is to say very impressive. Some cost-cutting materials poke their heads out, but overall this is a lavish sedan for its relatively inexpensive price.

Safety scores are missing, but standard active safety tech for 2020 could be peace of mind until one gets ruined in the name of science. Fuel economy is mediocre however, at just 23 combined mpg. The Cadenza does allow the use of regular fuel however, helping to ease the annual cost of filling up.

7

2020 Kia Cadenza

Styling

The 2020 Kia Cadenza is handsome but anonymous.

The 2020 Kia Cadenza is thoroughly updated on the outside and lightly updated on the inside, making for a sharper design that’s still somewhat anonymous. We give it 7 out of 10 here, with an extra point each for the exterior and interior. 

With slimmer headlights, a full-width taillight rear end design, and a bigger infotainment screen front and center, the 2020 Cadenza receives a more thorough visual update than many vehicles get halfway through their shelf life. We think it looks better than before, but still somewhat anonymous in practice. Let’s just say it’s hard for the average car buyer to pick the Cadenza out of a lineup of sedans.

The interior is revised as well, with a wide infotainment screen stuck onto a woodgrain dash that looks a little richer than last year’s version. Material quality is great as we’ve come to expect from Kia, and diamond stitching on the seats gives a premium feel to this otherwise conventional cabin.

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6

2020 Kia Cadenza

Performance

The 2020 Kia Cadenza is plenty comfortable and has enough power.

The 2020 Kia Cadenza sports a powertrain with ample but not excessive power, and a creamy ride that balances out its relaxed, predictable handling. We give it 6 out of 10 here.

A 3.3-liter V-6 does the heavy lifting in the 2020 Cadenza, coupled to an 8-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. With 290 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque, it’s not the quickest large sedan around, but its smooth acceleration is plentiful.

While the steering rack returns a pleasant amount of feedback, the Cadenza is a better cruiser. It’s much more comfortable with cruising on long, straight roads at highway speeds. Though four driving modes are available, the Cadenza is best left in comfort mode, which yields a pleasant, unhurried feel. 

Kia has updated the Cadenza’s rear suspension this year to improve road noise and the ride quality over rough surfaces, and it’s been tweaked again this year. Curvy roads are handled with minimal fuss, but also not much joy.

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8

2020 Kia Cadenza

Comfort & Quality

The 2020 Kia Cadenza is high-quality, spacious, comfortable, and practical: everything you want from a large sedan.

With an impressive interior, both in terms of quality and space, the 2020 Kia Cadenza is one of the more comfortable and practical mainstream sedans. We give it 8 out of 10 here. 

Front seat passengers get the best treatment, with soft and supportive leather seats that offer power adjustment and heat as standard. The rear seat can accommodate two adults comfortably and three in a pinch, leaving plenty of leg room and head room even with taller occupants up front, though the seat itself could use more support.

The trunk is big at 16 cubic feet, enough to swallow multiple large suitcases. The Cadenza has plenty of storage bins throughout the cabin too.

Lavish optional extras like nappa leather, a faux suede headliner, and improved trim pieces dial up the prestige, but even base Cadenzas feature great material quality, something we’ve come to expect from Kia of late. It’s almost enough to merit another point for quality—a point we give to the larger K900. The Cadenza’s close.

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2020 Kia Cadenza

Safety

The 2020 Kia Cadenza doesn’t have full crash-test scores, but active safety tech is now standard.

Though safety scores aren't yet available. Without that data we’re unable to give it a score here.

While active safety tech was limited to higher trims in the past, the 2020 update makes all features standard at long last, including automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beam headlights, active lane control, and safe exit alerts for when cyclists or other vehicles are approaching the door that’s being opened.

We’ll update this when more data is published.

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9

2020 Kia Cadenza

Features

The 2020 Kia Cadenza features reduced trim options, but many more standard features this year.

Thanks to increased and improved standard features, the 2020 Kia Cadenza rises in the feature rankings this year. We give it 9 out of 10 here as such—missing only a point for plentiful options.

The 2020 Cadenza comes in two versions, Technology and Limited. The old Premium trim has been broomed.

The updated Cadenza now sports LED headlights and taillights, 18-inch alloy wheels, a redesigned instrument cluster with a 4.2-inch information display, a new 12.3-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, three additional USB charging ports, and a full suite of active safety tech including automatic braking and adaptive cruise control with active lane control all as standard.

Options include two new nappa leather choices, a multi-color ambient LED lighting system, 19-inch wheels, and more on the higher-price Limited trim.

Kia’s infotainment system is bright, crisp, and easy to use. Its warranty is outstanding: 5 years/60,000 miles, with 10-year/100,000-mile coverage for the powertrain. And at less than $40,000 in base trim, it’s a strong value.

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4

2020 Kia Cadenza

Fuel Economy

The 2020 Kia Cadenza returns a mediocre 23 combined mpg.

The 2020 Kia Cadenza’s old school sedan powertrain returns only mediocre fuel economy, for a 4 out of 10 here. The Kia’s thirsty V-6 manages just 20 mpg city, 28 highway, 23 combined. It only requires regular fuel, which helps bring the average annual fuel cost down to $1,600 according to the EPA.

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The Car Connection Consumer Review

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$37,850
MSRP based on Technology Sedan
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6.8
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety N/A
Features 9
Fuel Economy 4
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