The affordable 2019 Kia Cadenza might fairly be considered a luxury sedan. The Cadenza has a huge amount of interior space, a comfortable ride, and impressive standard and optional equipment and technology. It’s unchanged for 2019 except for updates to the infotainment system and the addition of active safety features.
There is just one powertrain, a quiet and refined 3.3-liter V-6 mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. Its 290 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque provides enough power for relaxed driving. It’s intended to be comfortable, not sporty, so the handling is on the soft side; but the surprising steering system is firmer and tighter than might be expected.
The EPA rates the Cadenza at 20 mpg city, 27 highway, and 23 combined, on regular gas. Many rivals with a V-6 require premium.
The NHTSA hasn’t crash-tested the Cadenza yet, but the IIHS gives it a Top Safety Pick rating, with its best â€œGoodâ€ scores in every test. It rates the available safety technology as â€œSuperior,â€ although the headlights only â€œAcceptableâ€ and the child seat anchors â€œMarginalâ€ for ease of use.
The 2019 Cadenza comes in Premium, Technology, and Limited models, ranging in price from $34,000 to $39,000 to $45,000.
Standard equipment in the Premium includes power features, heated leather seats with power adjustment, automatic climate control, a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, blind-spot monitors, active lane control, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
The Technology model at just over $39,000 adds the complete active safety package, including forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alerts, and automatic high beam headlights. It also adds 19-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, LED headlights and fog lights, satellite navigation, a Harman/Kardon audio system, wireless phone charging, and an electronic parking brake with auto hold for stop lights.
The Limited at more than $45,000 includes satin chrome wheels, a power-operated trunk, head-up display, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a surround-view camera system, cooled front seats, heated rear seats and steering wheel, and soft Nappa leather with a faux suede headliner. Diamond-quilted leather is optional.
The Cadenza looks more expensive than it is, with Z-shaped lightning-bolt-looking LED running lamps, a concave grille, big wheels and tasteful chrome accents. It wears its sheetmetal with confidence. The styling isn’t as spirited as the Kia Stinger, but then it isn’t intended to be. It’s supposed to look like a German luxury car, namely a BMW, which it does.
The cabin delivers as well, with a business-like design offering standard leather seats and high-quality materials including trim. The Technology and Limited models offer more luxury, including optional Nappa leather and faux suede. The controls are centrally and ergonomically positioned around the touchscreen. There are several storage bins.
The front seats are soft and supportive. The Technology and Limited feature a power thigh bolster. The panoramic sunroof cuts into front headroom.
There is ample headroom and legroom in the rear, where three adults can comfortably fit, but two are always better. The trunk is big, with 16 cubic feet of cargo space.
The cabin is silent, thanks to plenty of sound deadening.
The 3.3-liter V-6 doesn’t have the oomph of American, German and Japanese rivals, but most of the time its 290 horsepower is enough. Meanwhile the 8-speed automatic offers smooth, quick shifts. But the Cadenza’s best dynamic feature is its ride, which is supple, even stellar, and even on the larger 19-inch wheels.
There are four driving modesâ€”Comfort, Eco, Sport, and Smartâ€”but we couldn’t feel much difference between them. We tried Sport on a curvy road, and it didn’t change much; the Cadenza works best in Comfort mode, and might as well be left there. Comfort is what the Cadenza is all about.
If you want a stylish and very comfortable full-size sedan in your driveway to impress your neighbors, the 2019 Kia Cadenza is an excellent choice. It has a smooth powertrain, a stylish and roomy interior with leather upholstery and a big trunk, and full active safety equipment on all but the base modelâ€”not to mention a great warranty.