2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan vs. 2019 Kia Cadenza

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The 3 Series Sedan’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.

The 3 Series Sedan 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.

The 3 Series Sedan 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 3 Series Sedan and the Cadenza have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, 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.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, its standard front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the 3 Series Sedan its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 46 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Cadenza is only a standard “Top Pick” for 2019.

Warranty

The 3 Series Sedan’s corrosion warranty is 7 years and unlimited miles longer than the Cadenza’s (12/unlimited vs. 5/100,000).

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

Reliability

The battery on the 3 Series Sedan is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the 3 Series Sedan’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The Cadenza’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Kia vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 7th in reliability, above the industry average. With 4 more problems per 100 vehicles, Kia is ranked 10th.

Engine

The 330i’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cyl. produces 42 lbs.-ft. more torque (295 vs. 253) than the Cadenza’s 3.3 DOHC V6. The M340i’s standard 3.0 turbo 6-cyl. produces 92 more horsepower (382 vs. 290) and 116 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 253) than the Cadenza’s 3.3 DOHC V6.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the 3 Series Sedan gets better fuel mileage than the Cadenza:

MPG

3 Series Sedan

RWD

330i 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

26 city/36 hwy

M340i 3.0 turbo 6-cyl.

22 city/30 hwy

AWD

330i 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

25 city/34 hwy

M340i 3.0 turbo 6-cyl.

22 city/30 hwy

Cadenza

FWD

3.3 DOHC V6

20 city/27 hwy

Regenerative brakes improve the 3 Series Sedan’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 3 Series Sedan’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.

Transmission

The 3 Series Sedan’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The Cadenza doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the 3 Series Sedan’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Cadenza:

330i

M340i

Cadenza

Front Rotors

13 inches

13.7 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

13 inches

13.6 inches

11.8 inches

The 3 Series Sedan’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.

Tires and Wheels

The 3 Series Sedan’s optional 225/35R20 front and 255/30R20 rear tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series front and 30 series rear 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 3 Series Sedan offers optional 20-inch wheels. The Cadenza’s largest wheels are only 19-inches.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the 3 Series Sedan can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The Cadenza doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

The 3 Series Sedan offers an optional 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.

Chassis

The 3 Series Sedan is 10 inches shorter than the Cadenza, making the 3 Series Sedan easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The design of the BMW 3 Series Sedan amounts to more than styling. The 3 Series Sedan has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .26 Cd. That is lower than the Cadenza (.28) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the 3 Series Sedan get better fuel mileage.

The front grille of the 3 Series Sedan uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Cadenza doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Cargo Capacity

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the 3 Series Sedan easier. The 3 Series Sedan’s trunk lift-over height is 26.7 inches, while the Cadenza’s liftover is 28.8 inches.

The 3 Series Sedan’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

The engine in the 3 Series Sedan is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Cadenza. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because there are no rear spark plugs and the accessory belts are in front.

Ergonomics

The 3 Series Sedan 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 3 Series Sedan’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 3 Series Sedan the driver can close them all at the outside door handle or from a distance using the remote. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows 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 3 Series Sedan’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.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The 3 Series Sedan’s available headlights were rated “Good” by the IIHS, while the Cadenza’s headlights are rated “Acceptable” to “Poor.”

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the 3 Series Sedan offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Cadenza doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The 3 Series Sedan 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 3 Series Sedan’s optional Parking Assistant Plus can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, starting, stopping and changing direction automatically. The Cadenza doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

The BMW 3 Series comes in sedan, four door hatchback and station wagon bodystyles; the Kia Cadenza isn’t available as a four door hatchback or station wagon.

Recommendations

The BMW 3 Series outsold the Kia Cadenza by almost 10 to one during 2018.

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

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