Please Notice Me: Kia's Oft-overlooked Cadenza Gains a New Face for 2020

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
please notice me kias oft overlooked cadenza gains a new face for 2020

Often referred to as a “Korean Buick” (sometimes, a “ better Buick“), the Kia Cadenza sits in a corner of the vehicle theater where audience attendance is way down. The brand’s largeish midsize sedan gained a new generation for 2017, upping the model’s style and content, and it looks like Kia’s not ready to let a member of its unusually diverse passenger car lineup go ignored for too much longer.

For 2020, the sedan’s just-revealed K7 Korean twin undergoes a significant refresh, adding a touch of menace to the car’s exterior. We should see these same changes on the North American-market Cadenza in short order.

A larger, more menacing grille, flanked by slimmer headlamps and fog lights is what stands out first, with a wider lower air opening imparting a sense of increased width. The taillights essentially flip themselves, underscored along the bottom by a chrome strip that used to be situated along the top. Those lamps are now joined across the trunklid by a slim band of LEDs.

Inside, changes abound, from revamped switchgear to a remolded shift lever, and the addition of two 12.3-inch screens — one replacing the traditional gauge cluster, the other topping the center stack.

While Korean K7 buyers make do with a choice of 2.5- or 3.0-liter engines, American buyers currently see just one powerplant: a 3.3-liter V6 making 290 horsepower and 253 lb-ft of torque. The only transmission is an eight-speed automatic. Whether that changes for 2020 remains to be seen.

Overall, the refreshed Cadenza is a fairly tony package. Kia’s, um, forte is offering sedans with a considerable amount of style and content for a value price, and the upcoming Cadenza would look right at home in the near-premium or low-end premium class. The question is, will anyone notice it?

That can be asked of basically all new or refreshed sedans on the market nowadays. Last year, Cadenza sales in the U.S. shrunk to their lowest point since the model’s 2013 introduction, with just 4,507 units moved. It’s a rare sight on domestic roads. Over the first five months of 2019 Cadenza volume fell 79 percent, with a refresh-pending selldown being the likely cause of the extreme sales drop.

Expect to hear more about the 2020 Cadenza as the fall auto show season approaches.

[Images: Kia Motors]

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3 of 33 comments
  • Jeff S Jeff S on Jun 12, 2019

    I am less interested in badges and I know several people who have owned Kias and Hyundais and had great experiences with them. Actually this car might be a perfect CPO in a couple of years.

    • RHD RHD on Jun 13, 2019

      Hyundai and Kia are improving year after year. Mercedes has been getting decontented and more ordinary year after year. Both are only going up in price, although Mercedes has added some downmarket models to their lineup. The challenge for HK is how to gain snob appeal/prestige, and the challenge for Mercedes is how to avoid losing theirs completely. There will be a point where rising HK quality equals that of Mercedes, and the falling quality of Mercedes equals that of Kia. That day may come soon, if it hasn't already.

  • Freshsnacks Freshsnacks on Jun 14, 2019

    I urged my mom (in her late 60s) to consider the Cadenza when trading her old Avalon (she was just going to get another Avalon). She’d never heard of it (no one has), drove it and loved it — bought one used with less than 20k miles on it — amazing deal, depreciation on these cars must be murder. But it is a while lot of car for the money and perfect for someone who doesn’t care about badge, wants a comfy cruiser (I guess someone who once would have been the profile of a Buick buyer). It’s been trouble-free for my folks. When she has it serviced the Kia dealer begs her to trade it in — she said she’d consider it for a newer Cadenza. “Lady, we never have any of those on this lot.” Therein lies the problem. A good car when 2-years old at half it’s original sticker, but not one many will shell out for new. If not for rental fleet sales, would really be a unicorn.