New 2018
Kia Cadenza Sedan

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KBB Editor's Overview

By KBB.com Editorial Staff

Full-size near-luxury sedans like the 2018 Kia Cadenza have come a long way in recent years. In the Cadenza, Kia has built a solid, attractive 4-door sedan to challenge cars like the Chevy Impala and Toyota Avalon, but with styling and luxury more akin to what one might find in an entry-level Audi or Lexus. From its powerful V6 engine and laudable driving manners to its taut lines and amazing standard warranty, there is so much right about this car it’s hard to find fault. If you don’t need the utility and all-wheel-drive ability of a crossover SUV, but are still looking for a comfortable and roomy way to transport four passengers, the Kia Cadenza deserves a good long look.

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You'll Like This Car If...

With increasingly good scores in the areas of safety and reliability, considering a Kia over longer established makes is a pretty easy move so long as resale isn’t an important factor. The Cadenza delivers brilliant styling, a long list of standard and available features and a civilized ride.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you need the sure-footed grip of all-wheel drive, a Dodge Charger or Subaru Legacy might make a better choice. Those seeking bragging rights in the fuel-economy and eco-friendly categories might enjoy a Toyota Avalon hybrid, while fans of BMW-like handling might enjoy a Dodge Charger R/T or Ford Taurus SHO.

What's New for 2018

Fresh from its redesign last year, the 2018 Kia Cadenza carries over largely intact. The Premium trim’s Luxury Package now includes a panoramic sunroof and LED interior lighting.

Driving It

Driving Impressions

The 2018 Cadenza hits the mark when it comes to the kind of comfort, quiet and refinement you expect from a premium full-size sedan. Kia's tried-and-true 3.3-liter V6 puts out 290 horsepower in the Cadenza, and the new Kia-designed 8-speed automatic extracts brisk acceleration with the pedal to the metal, and relaxed cruising when you're just feathering it at highway speeds. That relaxation extends to the suspension, which uses special shock absorbers to smooth out harsh bumps without making the ride too soft. The Cadenza sailed gracefully over the pavement, but it was also suitably flat and controlled when the road narrowed and bent. The electrically assisted steering provided good weighting in corners -- although not much feedback -- and very good on-center feel on the highway. While no sports sedan, the Cadenza's drive mode select does offer a Sport mode, and there are shift paddles on the steering wheel.

Favorite Features

ENORMOUS BACK SEAT
The Cadenza’s rear seat is a place where two good-sized adults will find plenty of leg, hip and headroom. Even when equipped with the optional panoramic sunroof, headroom remains acceptable for all but the tallest of passengers.

HARMAN/KARDON AUDIO
Audiophiles aren’t the only ones who will appreciate the excellent harman/kardon audio setup in the 2018 Kia Cadenza sedan. The system’s Clari-Fi technology delivers crisp highs, rich bass and an even midrange though 12 speakers. Think if it as a set of BluBlockers for your ears.

Vehicle Details

Interior

If the 2018 Kia Cadenza’s interior looks familiar, it’s because it bears a striking resemblance to the smaller Kia Optima. The two share the same split-level design placing important gauges and screens up above the physical switches and knobs used to control them. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are along for the ride, as is an outstanding harman/kardon audio system. Both front-seat occupants get multi-adjustable seats including available lumbar support, a refreshing change from cars that treat the passenger like a second-class citizen. The Cadenza’s rear seat is the real star, however, offering cavernous accommodations for even the tallest passengers.

Exterior

Kia’s Cadenza sedan for 2018 displays a handsome, clean design that sheds the somewhat pudgy look of the last-generation car to wear the nameplate. Little details such as the concave “tiger-nose” grille add a sense of individualism. Depending on the trim, the grille is offered with either the traditional diamond pattern or waterfall design. The car’s front and rear Z-shaped LED accent lights are connected via a subtle crease at the shoulder line, a visual cue that ties the entire design together and helps the Cadenza make a more elegant statement than the edgier Kia Optima and Stinger.

Notable Standard Equipment

The 2018 Cadenza Premium model anchors the bottom of the lineup, and comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, LED accent lights, and the trunk automatically pops open if you stand near it for a few seconds. There's leather on the seats and on the tilt-and-telescope steering wheel. The driver's seat power-adjusts 10 ways, the power passenger's seat adjusts eight ways, and both are heated. Also standard are dual-zone climate control, push-button ignition, a 7-inch touch-screen display that includes a rearview camera, USB inputs, Bluetooth, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Safety gear includes nine airbags, hill-start assist, and that rearview camera.

Notable Optional Equipment

The Technology model adds power-folding mirrors with puddle lights, a panoramic sunroof and the harman/kardon audio system with an 8-inch touch screen and navigation; all available as upgrades to the Premium model, too, as part of the optional Luxury Package. However, Technology models also get 19-inch wheels, LED headlights and fog lights, a heated steering wheel, shifter paddles on the steering wheel, automatic windshield wipers, and a wireless smartphone-charging system. Step up to the Limited model if you want nicer Nappa quilted leather on the seats, a 14-way-adjustable driver's seat with memory, and a power-operated trunk.

Under the Hood

One engine is available for the 2018 Cadenza: Kia's 3.3-liter V6, putting out 290 horsepower and 253 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels. We're familiar with this engine, as it's the standard-issue V6 for Kia models for some time now. What's improved is the use of an 8-speed automatic transmission. It's an all-new design by Kia itself, and it offers smooth shifts and brisk acceleration. The paddle shifters worked fine, but we're guessing most people will let the transmission do its own shifting. The Cadenza consumes regular fuel at the rate of about 28 mpg on the highway.

3.3-liter V6
290 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
253 lb-ft of torque @ 5,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28 mpg

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Pricing Notes

The 2018 Kia Cadenza Premium carries a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting right around $33,200. Stepping up to the Technology trim elevates the price to just under $40,200, while the Nappa-leather-clad Limited sneaks in just shy of $45,600 when fully loaded. That's actually on the high side of the segment, with base prices for the Impala, Taurus and Charger all undercutting the big Kia, but the 2018 Cadenza offers more standard equipment. On the high end, the Kia is still higher than its competitors, but again, the Cadenza makes a more luxurious play with the quilted leather and other high-end features. Be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price calculator to see what others in your area paid for their Cadenza. As for resale, early indications are the Cadenza comes in on the lower side, with values falling short of the Dodge Charger and Chevy Impala, and well off the excellent marks set by the Toyota Avalon.

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