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Never Gonna Give You Up: 2020 Kia Cadenza Gains Refresh, Continued Life

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 It’s the Cadenza, known in some auto journo circles as the Korean Buick — a soon-to-be-outdated moniker, as the Buick lineup loses its last car this year.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