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2018 Kia Cadenza Review, Ratings, Specs, Prices, and Photos

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What’s a full-size sedan to do when it’s not supposed to be a luxury car?

The 2018 Kia Cadenza tackles that big-car conundrum with grace and finesse, even if it doesn’t have a definitive answer. It has luxury features, big spread-out space, and softly tuned handling, and that makes it a less expensive and better car in some ways than Kia’s pricier K900. Awkward much?

Sold in Premium, Technology, and Limited trim, the 2018 Cadenza merits a score of 7.4 on our scale, with kudos for its features and its comfort. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Review continues below

With the Cadenza, Kia breaks no new ground. Thankfully it also doesn’t merely copy and scale up its other sedans. The Cadenza has a pleasant if not daring shape, one that’s made more lively with details like a concave grille and LED lighting. The interior’s a familiar wing-shaped affair for those attuned to head designer Peter Schreyer’s efforts, and it’s a nice place to be, especially when trimmed in nappa leather and suede.

Performance issues from a 290-horsepower V-6, an 8-speed automatic, responsive brakes, 19-inch wheels and tires, and an independent suspension. It sounds a lot like Buick’s LaCrosse on paper, but while that four-door has turned up the stiffness on all its driving systems, the Cadenza keeps things calm and loose. Handling is composed but a bit fluffy, the powertrain’s all but invisible in its action. The sole noticeable deviance from big-car norms is overly heavy steering.

The Cadenza’s big interior space suits as many as five adults, without intruding too much on personal space. Diamond-quilted stitching elevates the top versions, but even the Premium model has leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, and a big trunk. It lacks the finishing touches you’d find on a K900, like massaging seats, but will you really miss that for tens of thousands less?

Crash-test data is incomplete, and Kia walls off its best safety technology on the more expensive trims. A rearview camera is standard. Other features found on the options list include wireless smartphone charging, a simple infotainment system with navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a panoramic sunroof.

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