2020 Mercedes C-Class Sedan vs. 2019 Kia Cadenza

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Mercedes C-Class Sedan have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision. The Kia Cadenza doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

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

The Mercedes C-Class Sedan has Daytime Running Lights to help keep it more visible under all conditions. Canadian government studies show that driving with lights during the day reduces accidents by 11% by making vehicles more conspicuous. The Cadenza doesn’t offer Daytime Running Lights.

The C-Class Sedan’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 C-Class Sedan and the Cadenza have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front and rear side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, 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, 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, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the C-Class Sedan its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 54 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Cadenza is only a standard “Top Pick” for 2019.

Warranty

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

Engine

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The C-Class Sedan’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 20 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 253) than the Cadenza’s 3.3 DOHC V6.

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the C-Class Sedan gets better fuel mileage than the Cadenza:

MPG

C-Class Sedan

RWD

2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

24 city/35 hwy

AWD

2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

23 city/33 hwy

Cadenza

FWD

3.3 DOHC V6

20 city/27 hwy

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the C-Class 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.

Environmental Friendliness

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In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Mercedes C-Class Sedan higher (6 out of 10) than the Kia Cadenza (3). This means the C-Class Sedan produces up to 23.4 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Cadenza every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

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A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Mercedes C-Class Sedan, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the Cadenza.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the C-Class Sedan’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Cadenza:

C-Class

Cadenza

Front Rotors

13 inches

12.6 inches

The C-Class 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.

The C-Class Sedan stops much shorter than the Cadenza:

C-Class Sedan

Cadenza

60 to 0 MPH

105 feet

120 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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The C-Class Sedan’s optional 255/35R19 rear 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.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires available on the C-Class 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

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The C-Class Sedan’s drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The Cadenza doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

The C 300 Sedan handles at .91 G’s, while the Cadenza Limited pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The C 300 Sedan executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.9 seconds quicker than the Cadenza Limited (25.7 seconds @ .71 average G’s vs. 27.6 seconds @ .63 average G’s).

Chassis

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The C-Class Sedan is 11.2 inches shorter than the Cadenza, making the C-Class Sedan easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The front grille of the C-Class 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

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The C-Class 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

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The engine in the C-Class 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.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Mercedes service is better than Kia. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes fifth in service department satisfaction. With a 45% lower rating, Kia is ranked 20th.

Ergonomics

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The C-Class Sedan 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 C-Class Sedan offers an optional passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat, steering wheel position and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.

The C-Class Sedan’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The Cadenza’s parking brake has to released manually.

The C-Class 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 C-Class 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 C-Class 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 C-Class Sedan’s headlights were rated “Good” to “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the Cadenza’s headlights are rated “Acceptable” to “Poor.”

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the C-Class 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 C-Class 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 C-Class Sedan’s optional Active Parking Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, stopping and changing direction automatically. The Cadenza doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

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The Mercedes C-Class comes in coupe, convertible and sedan bodystyles; the Kia Cadenza isn’t available as a coupe or convertible.

Economic Advantages

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Insurance will cost less for the C-Class Sedan owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the C-Class Sedan with a number “3” insurance rate while the Cadenza is rated higher at a number “5” rate.

The C-Class Sedan will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the C-Class Sedan will retain 36.56% to 37.71% of its original price after five years, while the Cadenza only retains 30.95% to 34.32%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the C-Class Sedan is less expensive to operate than the Cadenza because typical repairs cost less on the C-Class Sedan than the Cadenza, including $139 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/02/17

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Mercedes C-Class Sedan and the Kia Cadenza, based on reliability, safety and performance.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the C-Class Sedan first among compact premium cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Cadenza isn’t in the top three in its category.

The C-Class Sedan was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2015. The Cadenza has never been an “All Star.”

The Mercedes C-Class outsold the Kia Cadenza by almost 35 to one during the 2019 model year.

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

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