2018 Kia Cadenza

2018 Kia Cadenza Review

It's built for comfort, not for speed. The Cadenza has lots of space and a calm disposition.
7.5 / 10
Edmunds overall rating
by Jason Kavanagh
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

Sedan sales have been eroded by the popularity of crossover SUVs of late, but there are shoppers who don't require the cargo solutions or tall seating position they provide. If you're one of them, a large sedan such as the 2018 Kia Cadenza is simply a more suitable choice.

Among large sedans, the Kia Cadenza skews heavily toward comfort and space for its passengers. The Cadenza made a big leap forward in its ride comfort and the quality of the cabin materials when it was redesigned in 2017, and it carries into 2018 unchanged. Its interior has a premium vibe — especially considering the car's reasonable price — and legroom is plentiful for all occupants. Its acceleration and handling won't quicken your pulse, so if you're a driving enthusiast you might be left wanting for more. Otherwise, the 2018 Cadenza's intersection of value, space and luxury makes it worthy of your attention.

What's new for 2018

For 2018, the Cadenza is essentially unchanged. There's only a minor rejiggering of feature content: Namely, the Luxury package now includes a panoramic sunroof and interior LED lighting.

We recommend

The Kia Cadenza is at its best when you leverage its comfort and convenience attributes, so to that end we say skip the base model and head straight to the Technology trim. Doing so gets you additional lumbar support for front-seat occupants, ventilated seats plus LED exterior lighting. The Limited trim's power rear sunshade and beautiful diamond-pattern leather seats are nice, but it comes at a steep price relative to the Technology trim.

Trim levels & features

The 2018 Kia Cadenza is a large sedan that offers an abundance of room for all its occupants. Even in its base Premium form, the Cadenza is well-equipped for what we think is a very reasonable price. Its available Luxury package is incorporated into the Technology trim, along with a few other desirable additions. And the top-trim Limited just might fool your passengers into thinking they're riding in a Lexus. There's one powertrain available: a 3.3-liter V6 (290 horsepower, 253 pound-feet of torque) that's matched to an eight-speed automatic and front-wheel drive.

The base Premium trim is loaded with features, including 18-inch wheels, foglights, heated mirrors, hands-free trunk opening, keyless entry and ignition, a rearview camera, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, eight-way power-adjustable and heated front seats (with driver two-way lumbar adjustment), a 7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, Bluetooth, and an eight-speaker audio system with HD and satellite radio and two USB ports.

The Premium is available with the Luxury package, which adds a panoramic sunroof, power-folding mirrors, LED cabin lighting, an 8-inch touchscreen with navigation, and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system. This package also includes rear cross-traffic alert, rear parking sensors and advanced blind-spot monitoring.

The Technology is one level up, adding the contents of the Luxury package, along with 19-inch wheels, LED headlights and foglights, automatic wipers, a power-adjustable and heated steering wheel with paddle shifters, a 10-way driver's seat (with four-way lumbar adjustment), two-way lumbar adjustment for the front passenger, ventilated front seats, driver-seat memory settings and wireless phone charging. The Technology also gets you forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control.

You can't go any higher than the Limited trim, which has all of the Technology trim's equipment plus a power-operated trunklid, a head-up display, side rear sunshades, a power rear sunshade, upgraded leather upholstery and heated rear seats.

Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions, although trim levels share many aspects. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2017 Kia Cadenza Limited sedan (3.3L V6 | 8-speed automatic | FWD).

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall7.5 / 10


7.5 / 10

Acceleration6.0 / 10
Braking9.0 / 10
Steering7.0 / 10
Handling6.5 / 10
Drivability7.5 / 10


8.0 / 10

Seat comfort7.5 / 10
Ride comfort7.0 / 10
Noise & vibration8.0 / 10
Climate control9.0 / 10


8.0 / 10

Ease of use8.0 / 10
Getting in/getting out9.0 / 10
Driving position8.0 / 10
Roominess7.0 / 10
Visibility9.0 / 10
Quality8.5 / 10


7.5 / 10

Small-item storage8.0 / 10
Cargo space6.0 / 10


7.5 / 10

Audio & navigation8.5 / 10
Smartphone integration7.5 / 10
Driver aids7.0 / 10
Voice control7.0 / 10


Under the Cadenza's hood is a familiar 3.3-liter V6 engine, carried over from the previous generation but slightly less powerful. The new eight-speed transmission is fuel economy-focused and isn't as refined as some rivals. Like most in the segment, the Cadenza is not particularly fun to drive.


Acceleration from a stop is gradual in every driver mode but Sport. Passing maneuvers require a heavy foot because the transmission is reluctant to downshift and takes a moment even at full throttle. We recorded a 0-60 mph sprint time of 6.8 seconds, a few ticks slower than average for the class.


The brake pedal is easy to engage, with very mild braking pressure occurring as soon as you put your foot down. It's also easy to modulate, with predictable increasing effort. In Edmunds testing, a Cadenza Limited came to a stop from 60 mph in 115 feet, shorter than average for a large sedan.


The steering effort is light in the normal Comfort driving mode, firming up slightly when Sport is selected. The steering wheel requires a fair amount of rotation to navigate in turns, and back-to-back transitions get tiring quickly. Steering feel is mostly numb.


Large sedans optimize comfort over athletic ability, and the Cadenza is no exception. A healthy amount of body lean will have you resting on the seat's leg and side bolsters anytime you drive through a corner with some enthusiasm. Midcorner bumps don't affect the Cadenza at all.


The transmission is smart enough to hold a low gear up steep grades, even in the gas-friendly Eco mode. In the normal Comfort setting, the Cadenza gets into high gears quickly. There's a noticeable lag when leaving from a stop; the engine gets louder but you don't move until a moment later.


The Cadenza is a comfort-focused sedan, and it performs its primary function well. We like the hushed cabin at high speeds and the car's effective climate controls. But the ride is less refined than in some rivals, and the front seats aren't great for road trips.

Seat comfort7.5

The seats are initially comfortable, with plenty of cushion and cushy leather. Even without the ventilation function, the seats feel breathable. They are best suited for short trips because thigh support isn't great; long-distance driving required multiple adjustments to alleviate driver fatigue.

Ride comfort7.0

The comfort-tuned suspension glides over most rough road surfaces, but dips in the asphalt cause the body to lean and rock to the side more than in other large sedans. Impacts are better controlled and much less noticeable than in the previous Cadenza.

Noise & vibration8.0

The cabin is quiet enough that you never need to raise your voice to talk. Wind and tire noise is noticeable but not overpowering, and you will hear the engine's unimpressive groan at low speeds. Vibration at idle is nonexistent to the point that you might think there's an engine stop-start system.

Climate control9.0

Heated front seats are standard on all Cadenzas, with the midtier Technology trim adding ventilated fronts and a heated steering wheel. Heated rears come only on the Limited. All seats get nice and hot, and the cooling effect is greater than in many rivals. Rear air vents keep passengers happy.


The cabin of the Cadenza can only be described as expansive. There's plenty of room for front and rear passengers. Even when the Easy Entry feature scoots the seat back, the driver won't hit the knees of the occupant behind. The materials quality is particularly impressive.

Ease of use8.0

All buttons and knobs on the center stack are within arm's reach of the driver and the front passenger. The touchscreen is a little far away, however. Either front occupant will have to lean forward slightly to press the virtual buttons accurately.

Getting in/getting out9.0

The wide doors, tall door openings, narrow side sills and unobtrusive seat bolsters make it easy to get into and out of the front seats. A gently sloping roofline makes for similarly easy access in and out of the back row.

Driving position8.0

The driver's seat offers a number of adjustments, including four-way lumbar and an extendable thigh bolster. The power steering wheel telescopes out pretty far, making it easy for tall drivers to find a comfortable position. It's also easy to see over the low hood.


The Cadenza's large interior provides ample room all around for most occupants. Legroom is generous, allowing 6-foot adults to sit behind each other without knees hitting the seatback. Only very tall passengers in a sunroof-equipped Cadenza will brush up against the headliner.


The tall, wide front windows promote excellent forward and side visibility. The rear roof pillars are thick, but the associated small windows help reduce the blind spots. The rear window is generously sized, so it's easy to see out of the back.


The Cadenza Limited's materials quality seems appropriate given its price tag. Quilted seat bolsters are an unexpected touch in this class, and thoughtful touches such as a padded driver knee rest are appreciated. The glossy piano black and wood trim do not reflect glaring sunlight.


You'll find many places to store small items, including a deep glove compartment and a pocket in each door. The trunk is large overall compared to those of most sedans, though it is slightly smaller than some in its class. The rear seat doesn't fold to expand the cargo area.

Small-item storage8.0

Front-seat occupants get a cubby beneath the center stack and a bin under the armrest to store small items. There's not much in the rear aside from the seatback map pockets. All doors have a cutout with room for a small water bottle. Four normally sized cupholders are split between front and rear.

Cargo space6.0

The cargo load floor is large and mostly flat, aside from a slight hump in the middle to provide room for the spare tire jack underneath. The cargo area measures 16 cubic feet, average for the segment but less than in the Impala and Taurus. There is a ski pass-through, but the rear seats don't fold.

Child safety seat accommodation8.5

Four lower LATCH anchors are hidden beneath plastic covers on the outboard seats that fold down under pressure but cannot be removed. Three upper anchors are located on the rear shelf and are also concealed under covers. All are easy to access.


The Cadenza offers the latest tech features, including adaptive cruise control, a 360-degree parking camera and Apple CarPlay. Execution is lacking, mostly due to the infotainment system's menu structure and the wonky logic of driver aids. Navigation doesn't use predictive city and street names.

Audio & navigation8.5

The 12-speaker Harman Kardon system sounds awesome, with a wide volume range and a surround-sound effect that makes instruments and voices sound closer to the listener. We wish more than just treble, bass and mid were adjustable. Slow responses make the nav system a bit difficult to operate.

Smartphone integration7.5

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay come on every Cadenza, while the Technology and Limited trims add a wireless phone charging pad under the center stack. Apple CarPlay is unusually difficult to find in the touchscreen menus. There's one USB port in front and another behind the center console.

Driver aids7.0

Adaptive cruise control keeps speed well, exceeding the limit set by just 1 mph on a steep downhill grade. Unfortunately, it's slow to reapply acceleration if the car in front of you has turned or changed lanes. Lane departure warning is too sensitive, triggering an alarm with little provocation.

Voice control7.0

Kia's voice recognition software could use some work because the navigation system is easily confused by numbered streets (e.g., "5th Street") and north-south-east-west descriptors. The phone book recognition is better. Siri Eyes Free is available if an iPhone is connected.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.