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

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By on June 12, 2019

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 level, and the placement 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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