Refreshed looks and tech. The 2020 Kia Cadenza may look new, but it’s actually just a significant refresh. This new look gives it a few more years of remaining competitive in the premium family sedan class.

Along with its new looks, Kia addressed a few pain points, including upgrading its infotainment system and being more generous with its standard safety goodies. These improved tools in its arsenal help it remain competitive against the likes of the Toyota Avalon and Dodge Charger.

Handsome, but not eye-grabbing. The Cadenza is restyled with thinner lights, an updated grille, and a full-width taillight. Inside, it gets a few new duds too, including a larger infotainment screen, revised woodgrain trim, and more. This all applies to a sedan that was already good looking with its simple body, upscale interior materials, and diamond stitching.

While it’s handsome, the Cadenza is far from a runway model with its any-sedan design that blends in with the background. This is a stark contrast to the newest Kia models, like the wilder K5.

Buyers seeking a more standout look may prefer the Kia Stinger, Nissan Maxima, or even the Avalon TRD.

Luxurious comfort, limited punch. Kia kicks it up a notch in comfort, showing the Cadenza truly is a ‘tweener that spans the gap between mainstream and luxury.

Roominess is no issue in the front seats with large, comfortable thrones for the driver and passenger. In the rear, there’s a respectable 37.2 inches of leg room and comfortable seats, but this falls short of the Avalon’s 40.4 inches and the Charger’s 40.1 inches. It does, however, crush the Maxima’s tight rear seats which feature only 34.2 inches of leg room.

The Cadenza also boasts a generous truck that swallows up to 16 cubic feet of luggage and other cargo. This beats the Maxima by 1.7 cubes and stays within a half a cubic foot of the Charger and Avalon. The Chevrolet Impala, however, crushes it with 18.8 cubic feet of space.

The Cadenza checks a few boxes for luxury shoppers with its available Nappa leather seats, faux-suede headliner, multicolor ambient lighting, and more.

This premium cabin combines with a buttery-smooth ride that few outside the luxury segment can match. This slick ride is amplified by a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission mated to a modest 290-horsepower, 3.3-liter V6 engine. It’s no joy to drive fast, but the Cadenza beats all in the comfort arena.

Buyers looking for a little more fun will want to look across the dealership at the 365-hp Stinger GT or the Charger, which boasts a range of performance models that includes the 370-hp R/T, 485-hp R/T Scat Pack, and the 707-hp Hellcat.


Kia Cadenza

Loads of standard tech. The Cadenza leaves tech-loving buyers with little to complain about with its standard 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and tons of USB ports. At $38,885, this is a great value.

The Cadenza’s competitors all offer similar equipment, but none offer it all standard. The Maxima has standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, but its standard infotainment screen is only 8 inches. The Charger also offers standard smartphone integration, but its standard touchscreen is just 7 inches. Finally, the Avalon’s standard 9-inch touchscreen is closer to the Cadenza’s, but it offers only standard Apple CarPlay – Android Auto isn’t an option.

A big update for this year made all the key safety tech standard in the Cadenza, including automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam headlights, lane keeping asst, and safe exit alerts.

The Maxima and Avalon match all but the safe exit alerts, while the Charger offers adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beams, blind-spot monitoring, and automatic emergency braking only as options.

Final thoughts. The 2020 Kia Cadenza is a pricey family car option at just shy of $40,000, but buyers considering a luxury car may find this a great value for its standard features. It boasts a roomy, comfortable, and peaceful cabin, loads of tech, and ample power, but lacks the exciting drive of the higher-power Charger lineup.

Buyers seeking even roomier rear seats will want to look toward the Avalon or Charger. And if a spacious trunk is a concern, the Impala’s airliner-rivaling cargo hold may be an option.

Check prices for the 2020 Kia Cadenza »