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In the past twenty years hundreds of infants and young children have died after being left in vehicles, usually by accident. When turning the vehicle off, drivers of the Maxima are reminded to check the back seat if they opened the rear door before starting out. The Cadenza doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.
The Maxima has standard Active Head Restraints, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Head Restraints system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Cadenza doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.
Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Maxima (except S/SV/SL) offers optional Rear Automatic Braking which use rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The Cadenza doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.
The Maxima’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Cadenza doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.
Both the Maxima and the Cadenza have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front and rear side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front-wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.
The Maxima’s 5 year corrosion warranty has no mileage limitations, but the corrosion warranty on the Cadenza runs out after 100,000 miles.
There are over 40 percent more Nissan dealers than there are Kia dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Maxima’s warranty.
A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Maxima’s reliability 58 points higher than the Cadenza.
J.D. Power and Associates rated the Maxima first among large cars in their 2018 Initial Quality Study. The Cadenza isn’t in the top three.
The Maxima’s 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 10 more horsepower (300 vs. 290) and 8 lbs.-ft. more torque (261 vs. 253) than the Cadenza’s 3.3 DOHC V6.
As tested in Motor Trend the Nissan Maxima is faster than the Kia Cadenza:
Zero to 60 MPH
Speed in 1/4 Mile
On the EPA test cycle the Maxima gets better fuel mileage than the Cadenza (20 city/30 hwy vs. 20 city/27 hwy).
The Maxima has a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The Cadenza doesn’t offer a CVT.
The Maxima’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Cadenza are solid, not vented.
The Maxima has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Cadenza doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.
The Maxima SR handles at .86 G’s, while the Cadenza Limited pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.
The Maxima SR executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1 seconds quicker than the Cadenza Limited (26.6 seconds @ .69 average G’s vs. 27.6 seconds @ .63 average G’s).
The Maxima SL/SR/Platinum uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Cadenza doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.
The Maxima’s standard rear seats fold to accommodate long and bulky cargo. The Cadenza doesn’t offer folding rear seats, only a ski pass-through.
The Maxima has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Cadenza doesn’t offer a remote starting system.
The Maxima’s instruments include an oil pressure gauge and a temperature gauge – which could save your engine! Often ‘idiot lights’ don’t warn you until damage has been done. The Cadenza does not have an oil pressure gauge.
If the front windows are left open on the Maxima the driver can close them at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Cadenza can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.
The Maxima’s standard speed-sensitive wipers speed up when the vehicle does, so that the driver doesn’t have to continually adjust the speed of the wipers. The Cadenza’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.
The Maxima offers optional automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Cadenza has an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.
Insurance will cost less for the Maxima owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the Maxima with a number “1” insurance rate while the Cadenza is rated higher at a number “5” rate.
According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Maxima is less expensive to operate than the Cadenza because it costs $144 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Maxima than the Cadenza, including $227 less for a muffler.
Consumer Reports® recommends the Nissan Maxima, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Kia Cadenza isn't recommended.
The Nissan Maxima outsold the Kia Cadenza by over seven to one during the 2018 model year.
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