2020 Acura TLX vs. 2019 Kia Cadenza

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The TLX V6’s optional 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.

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

Both the TLX and the Cadenza have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front 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 blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

The TLX’s 5 year corrosion warranty has no mileage limitations, but the corrosion warranty on the Cadenza runs out after 100,000 miles.

Reliability

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 TLX’s reliability 31 points higher than the Cadenza.

Engine

The TLX’s optional 3.5 SOHC V6 produces 14 lbs.-ft. more torque (267 vs. 253) than the Cadenza’s 3.3 DOHC V6.

As tested in Motor Trend the Acura TLX V6 is faster than the Kia Cadenza:

TLX

Cadenza

Zero to 60 MPH

5.9 sec

6.5 sec

Quarter Mile

14.4 sec

14.8 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

98.4 MPH

95.8 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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

MPG

TLX

FWD

2.4 DOHC 4-cyl.

23 city/33 hwy

A-Spec 2.4 DOHC 4-cyl.

23 city/32 hwy

3.5 SOHC V6

20 city/31 hwy

A-Spec 3.5 SOHC V6

20 city/30 hwy

AWD

3.5 SOHC V6

20 city/29 hwy

Cadenza

FWD

3.3 DOHC V6

20 city/27 hwy

An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the TLX V6’s fuel efficiency. The Cadenza doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the TLX SH-AWD’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 TLX 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.

Transmission

A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Acura TLX V6, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the Cadenza.

The TLX offers a standard sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The Cadenza doesn’t offer an SMG or a conventional manual transmission.

Tires and Wheels

The TLX 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.

Suspension and Handling

The TLX handles at .84 G’s, while the Cadenza Limited pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The TLX V6 SH-AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Cadenza Limited (26.7 seconds @ .76 average G’s vs. 27.6 seconds @ .63 average G’s).

Chassis

The TLX is 5 inches shorter than the Cadenza, making the TLX easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The TLX 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.

Cargo Capacity

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the TLX easier. The TLX’s trunk lift-over height is 27.5 inches, while the Cadenza’s liftover is 28.8 inches.

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

Servicing Ease

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Acura service is better than Kia. J.D. Power ranks Acura 6th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 41% lower rating, Kia is ranked 20th.

Ergonomics

The TLX offers a 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 TLX’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 TLX the driver can close them all 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 TLX’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 TLX V6 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.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the TLX is less expensive to operate than the Cadenza because it costs $27 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost less on the TLX than the Cadenza, including $145 less for a muffler and $125 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

The Car Book by Jack Gillis recommends the Acura TLX, based on economy, maintenance, safety and complaint levels. The Kia Cadenza isn't recommended.

The Acura TLX outsold the Kia Cadenza by almost seven to one during 2018.

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

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