By on February 7, 2020


Is there another automotive brand that offers as much mainstream passenger car choice as Kia Motors? Nothing springs to mind. The Korean automaker continues to temp American car buyers with a full range of cars, from subcompact and compact up through full-size. In the middle, there’s a choice of THREE midsize(ish) four-doors.

In 2020.

One of those models just appeared at the Chicago Auto Show wearing slightly new clothes. It’s the Cadenza, known in some auto journo circles as the Korean Buick — a soon-to-be-outdated moniker, as the Buick lineup loses its last car this year.

For 2020, the upper-midsize Cadenza dons a deeper, more pronounced waterfall grille, rejigged LED headlamps (standard on all trims), and slightly refashioned LED running lights. You’ll notice the illuminated mark of Zorro beneath those multi-lens peepers.

The hood and trunk lid are also new, with LED taillamps alerting following drivers to the fact that yes, that is indeed a Cadenza up ahead. Redesigned 18- and 19-inch wheels round out the exterior alterations.


Inside, all Cadenza buyers will be greeted by a sizeable 12.3-inch touchscreen set into the dash, not placed atop it, as well as a 4.2-inch color info display in the gauge cluster. The top-flight Limited trim (base Technology is the only other guise for 2020) adds multi-color ambient mood lighting, and two additional choices of Nappa leather-trimmed seat color join the upholstery roster. Elsewhere, you’ll find three extra USB ports, plus standard Smart Key for all.

Standard safety features include forward collision warning, forward collision-avoidance assist with pedestrian/cyclist detection, smart cruise (with stop & go), and high beam assist. An expanded available suite of driver-assist aids uses highway and navigation data to maintain posted speed limits (highway driving assist) and reduce speed before entering curves (smart cruise control-curve).


Nothing changes powertrain-wise; there’s still a 3.3-liter V6 up front channeling power to the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic, though road manners get a boost from redesigned shock valves up front and larger rear dampers. Kia has reinforced the rear subframe cross members to further lower NVH.

Clearly a better car than before, but is it one people will want to buy? Time will tell, but the Cadenza’s recent history shows it continues to be overlooked in favor of….well, who knows? While pricing has yet to be revealed, the Cadenza has always represented a relative bargain for those in the market for a semi-premium large-ish sedan — assuming they know it exists.

Appearing for the 2013 model year, the Cadenza’s sales dropped precipitously in 2019. The 63.8-percent drop saw volume fall to the lowest in the model’s short history, with just 1,630 examples leaving dealer lots. While the appearance of a second-gen Cadenza lifted sales for 2017, we’ll have to wait and see whether a refresh and content boost deliver another miracle.

The 2020 Cadenza goes on sale later this year.

[Images: Kia Motors]

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30 Comments on “Never Gonna Give You Up: 2020 Kia Cadenza Gains Refresh, Continued Life...”

  • avatar

    I see one of these things on the road once in a great while. How many K900s have they sold? I think I’ve seen two, maybe three.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Looks even nicer than before. The only one I’ve sat in (at a Kia dealer) was discounted $10k before negotiations begin, putting its price close to an Optima.

    Also, I’ve heard the Cadenza is a big seller in Korea. It’s Kia’s Avalon, and unfortunately the Avalon just bit the dust over at Toyota.

  • avatar

    The grille reminds me of mid 1960’s Ramblers….


  • avatar

    known in some auto journo circles as the Korean Buick — a soon-to-be-outdated moniker, as the Buick lineup loses its last car this year.

    Slap Buick badges on it, call it Lesabre – how many would recognize the difference? Heck Hyundai/Kia even has a 3.8 ltr engine they could borrow.

  • avatar

    This is definitely one of those lost cars – nobody knows it exists. Seems to be nice looking and well equipped but can’t imagine anyone is rushing into a dealership to buy one. They must get bought accidentally.

  • avatar

    Very handsome car. Kia makes good looking cars – no two ways about it – gooooooood looking!

  • avatar

    “An expanded available suite of driver-assist aids uses highway and navigation data to maintain posted speed limits”

    That sounds like torture in the US, where it’s generally accepted that the flow of traffic will move faster than the posted speed limits, especially on the highway. Whereas I’ve seen navigation systems start flashing like a strobe light for going one km/h over the posted limit.

  • avatar

    This is a KDM thing and I’m surprised there is a return on the investment of federalizing it.

    I like big comfy sedans but they don’t work for our current life situation; if there are still cars like this when I’m an old man, I’ll probably have one.

  • avatar

    Audi held the interior design crown for a long time.
    Then Porsche held the crown with the Panamera.
    Mercedes had it for a while when the new C300 interior was seen.
    And now the best interior design belongs to Hyundai/Kia.

    Toyota design still looks Tonka and Fisher Price inspired. Nissan is just now entering the 2000’s. BMW drab. GM cheap. Honda is getting better and cleaner. Chrysler/Fiat is just now catching up with Nissan.

    So tip of the hat to H/K for not just pushing design forward, but doing it on reasonably priced cars and SUVs.

  • avatar

    Every old person that wants a quiet car with a nice ride should know about this car. Shame on all of you for not telling your parents about it! (Just assuming, considering how few of these get sold every year.)

    The new back end looks a little less high-end than before. And the new Kia logo can’t get here soon enough.

  • avatar

    What’s the third mid-sized car they offer? Is the Stinger being counted in that tally, or is that in a class of its own? I know at one point the Forte was a mid-sized car according to the EPA.

  • avatar

    park it next to the credenza

  • avatar

    On the bright side, this is 300% more popular than the K900!

  • avatar

    On photo design looks very sweet. But that damned name Kia? How can I explain in country club what Kia is? Korean Buick? It is time for Kia to change name and move out from Korea to Germany.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    ‘…continues to TEMPT American car buyers…’

  • avatar

    I haven’t seen a new one of these at our two Kia dealers since Summer. They are super scarce in Upstate, NY area. The Kia site is still listing 2019 models on the build your own portion.

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