2019 Volvo S90 vs. 2018 Kia Cadenza

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Volvo S90 have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Kia Cadenza doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

The S90’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Cadenza doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

Both the S90 and Cadenza have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The S90 has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The Cadenza’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

The Volvo S90 offers optional built in child booster seats. They’re more crash worthy than an added child seat because of their direct attachment to the seat. Kia doesn’t offer the convenience and security of a built-in child booster seat in the Cadenza. Their owners must carry a heavy booster seat in and out of the vehicle; S90 owners can just fold their built-in child seat up or down.

The S90 has a standard Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS), which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the WHIPS moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. At the same time the pretensioning seatbelts fire, removing slack from the belts. The Cadenza doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The S90 has standard Automatic Braking After Collision, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Cadenza doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

The S90 offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Cadenza doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The S90’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 S90 and the Cadenza have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front and rear side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, 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 and available around view monitors.


The S90’s corrosion warranty is 7 years and unlimited miles longer than the Cadenza’s (12/unlimited vs. 5/100,000).

Volvo pays for scheduled maintenance on the S90 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. Volvo will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Kia doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Cadenza.


The S90 T5’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 5 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 253) than the Cadenza’s 3.3 DOHC V6. The S90 T6’s standard 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 26 more horsepower (316 vs. 290) and 42 lbs.-ft. more torque (295 vs. 253) than the Cadenza’s 3.3 DOHC V6. The S90 T8’s standard 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid produces 110 more horsepower (400 vs. 290) and 219 lbs.-ft. more torque (472 vs. 253) than the Cadenza’s 3.3 DOHC V6.

As tested in Motor Trend the S90 T6 is faster than the Kia Cadenza:




Zero to 60 MPH

5.6 sec

6.5 sec

Quarter Mile

14.1 sec

14.8 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

98.9 MPH

95.8 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the S90 T8 running on electricity gets better fuel mileage than the Cadenza (70 city/72 hwy MPGe vs. 20 city/28 hwy).

On the EPA test cycle the S90 T8 running its gasoline engine gets better fuel mileage than the Cadenza (26 city/33 hwy vs. 20 city/28 hwy).

On the EPA test cycle the S90 gets better fuel mileage than the Cadenza:








23 city/35 hwy

20 city/28 hwy




22 city/31 hwy





21 city/31 hwy



The S90 T8 can drive on battery power alone for up to 14 miles. The Cadenza must run its internal combustion engine to move.

Regenerative brakes improve the S90’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Cadenza doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the S90’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Cadenza doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The S90 has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Cadenza doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the S90 T6/T8’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Cadenza:


S90 T5

S90 T6/T8


Front Rotors

12.7 inches

13.6 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

11.9 inches

12.6 inches

11.8 inches

The S90’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 S90 stops much shorter than the Cadenza:





60 to 0 MPH

107 feet

120 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the S90’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Cadenza (255/35R20 vs. 245/45R18).

The S90’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Cadenza Technology/Limited’s 40 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the S90 offers optional 20-inch wheels. The Cadenza’s largest wheels are only 19-inches.

Suspension and Handling

The S90 offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The Cadenza’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the S90’s wheelbase is 8.1 inches longer than on the Cadenza (120.5 inches vs. 112.4 inches).

The S90 T6 Inscription handles at .88 G’s, while the Cadenza Limited pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The S90 T6 Inscription executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.3 seconds quicker than the Cadenza Limited (26.3 seconds @ .68 average G’s vs. 27.6 seconds @ .63 average G’s).

Cargo Capacity

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the S90 easier. The S90’s trunk lift-over height is 26.5 inches, while the Cadenza’s liftover is 28.8 inches.

The S90’s standard rear seats fold to accommodate long and bulky cargo. The Cadenza doesn’t offer folding rear seats, only a ski pass-through.

Pressing a switch automatically lowers the S90’s rear seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The Cadenza doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.


The S90 has a 3700 lbs. towing capacity. The Cadenza has no towing capacity.


The S90 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.

Unlike the driver-only memory system in the Cadenza Technology/Limited, the S90 Inscription has a passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.

The S90’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Cadenza’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

If the windows are left open on the S90 the driver can close them all from a distance using the remote. 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 S90’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Cadenza’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the S90 to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Cadenza doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The S90 offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Cadenza doesn’t offer headlight washers.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the S90 has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Cadenza doesn’t offer cornering lights. The S90 also offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

The S90 has standard 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.

The S90 Inscription has standard front air-conditioned seats and offers them optionally in the rear. This keeps the passengers comfortable and takes the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Cadenza doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats in the rear.

The S90 has a 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The Cadenza doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

The S90’s optional Park Assist Pilot can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Cadenza doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages

The S90 will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the S90 will retain 37.83% to 40.23% of its original price after five years, while the Cadenza only retains 32.17% to 36.26%.


The S90 was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2017. The Cadenza has never been an “All Star.”

The Volvo 90 Series outsold the Kia Cadenza by 53% during 2017.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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