If you’re shopping for a full-size sedan under $40,000, you may be interested to know there’s one out there offering a premium look and feel, with features that are comparable to cars costing tens of thousands of dollars more. It’s the 2019 Kia Cadenza, a big, front-wheel-drive sedan with a comfortable interior, a smooth ride and an unbeatable warranty. Designed to do battle with the Buick LaCrosse, Toyota Avalon and Chevrolet Impala, the Credenza easily matches its rivals in the area of power, interior room and pricing, but goes an extra mile, offering such upscale features as Nappa leather interior, a 10-way power passenger seat, heated rear seats and a panoramic sunroof.
What’s New for 2019?
For 2019, the Cadenza’s Luxury Package is folded into the Technology trim’s standard equipment list. The Premium trim gains standard blind spot collision warning, rear parking sensors, power folding mirrors with puddle lamps and rear cross-traffic assist.
What We Like
Simple yet elegant exterior styling; quick acceleration; commendable driving dynamics; upscale interior furnishings; rear-seat legroom; value
What We Don’t
$33,800 — $45,000
Only one engine powers the Cadenza. It’s a 290-horsepower 3.3-liter V6, delivering 253 lb-ft of peak torque. This engine turns the front wheels via an 8-speed, driver-selectable automatic transmission built in-house by Kia. Fuel economy in the 2019 Kia Cadenza is a government-estimated 20 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.
Standard Features & Options
Kia offers the Cadenza in three grades: Premium, Technology and Limited.
The Premium ($33,800) comes right out of the box with 18-in alloy wheels, heated outboard power folding mirrors with integrated turn signals, leather seating, heated front seats, a 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat, blind spot collision warning, rear cross-traffic assist, rear parking sensors, an 8-way power adjustable passenger seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button start, a rearview camera, a 7-in touchscreen, a UVO infotainment interface, Bluetooth connectivity and an 8-speaker audio system with satellite-radio capability.
The Technology ($38,890) adds 19-in alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, LED headlights and fog lights, auto rain-sensing wipers, a heated power tilt-telescopic steering wheel, navigation, Harman Kardon premium audio, a 14-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, a 10-way power-adjustable passenger seat, smartphone wireless charging, high-beam assist, autonomous emergency braking, smart cruise control, lane-departure warning, forward-collision warning and surround-view cameras.
The Limited ($44,800) builds on the Technology’s standard equipment and adds a power rear-window sun shade, Nappa leather seating, heated rear outboard seats, a smart power trunk and a head-up display.
The two top trim levels come standard with a comprehensive suite of automatic safety and driver-assist technologies, including forward-collision warning, emergency braking, lane-departure warning and assist and a blind spot monitoring system. Some of these are options on the entry-level grade. Seven airbags, including a driver-side knee-bolster bag, are standard across the Cadenza lineup.
In crash testing, the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the 2019 Kia Cadenza top marks in all its crash tests and awarded the 2018 model a Top Safety Pick designation.
Behind the Wheel
If you’re looking for a big sedan that’s eager to cleave the corners, you might want to look elsewhere. Although the 2019 Cadenza is lighter and more aggressive looking than the previous generation, it’s still primarily a boulevard-cruiser, whisking its occupants along in comfy quiet. The Cadenza is all about the passenger experience, offering the most rear-seat legroom in its segment and a trunk capacity that’s greater than most competitors.
Kia recently updated the Cadenza’s suspension with more advanced shock absorbers that adjust to changing conditions. They seem well-mated to the lighter, stiffer structure. Three driving-mode settings provide some control over how aggressively the transmission shifts. We kept ours in Sport mode for most of our time behind the wheel and had no issue zipping around slower traffic when we needed to.
It may not set a new bar in its segment, but the 2019 Cadenza delivers just what a large, upscale people-hauler should: refinement, comfort and the latest in technology.
Other Cars to Consider
2019 Toyota Avalon — It’s not possible to talk about large sedans without including the Avalon. Roomy, comfortable and quiet, with solid fuel economy for a big car, this is exactly the sort of land yacht most big-sedan owners demand. There’s also a hybrid model.
2019 Buick LaCrosse — Mention the name Buick to most people over the age of 50, and most likely the first adjective that pops into their head is "big." The latest LaCrosse is that, but now it’s also as agile as it is comfortable. It also offers the option of AWD.
2019 Chevrolet Impala — The Impala’s highlights include a stylish exterior, plenty of passenger space, boulevard ride and a powerful V6. It’s also loaded with technology. That pretty much checks all the large-sedan boxes.
Used Ford Taurus SHO — A 2014 — 2017 Ford Taurus SHO has the interior room required of a big car, but with a performance edge that makes it a blast to driver. Also consider a used Dodge Charger R/T or Daytona.
There are compelling reasons to spend the $5,000-or-so extra to get the Technology grade instead of the Premium. The full suite of automatic safety and driver-assistance technologies, as well as the spectacular state-of-the-art Harman Kardon surround-sound system are two of them. If you have the extra cash, we think the Cadenza Technology is the way to go.