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For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Toyota Avalon 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 Avalon has standard Whiplash Injury Lessening Seats (WIL), which use a specially designed seat to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the WIL system allows the backrest to travel backwards to cushion the occupants and the headrests move forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Cadenza doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.
The Avalon has a standard Secondary Collision Brake, which automatically applies 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.
Compared to metal, the Avalon’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Kia Cadenza has a metal gas tank.
Both the Avalon 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, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, collision warning systems, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras, rear cross-path warning and available around view monitors.
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 Avalon its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 82 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Cadenza has not been fully tested, yet.
The Avalon’s 5 year corrosion warranty has no mileage limitations, but the corrosion warranty on the Cadenza runs out after 100,000 miles.
Toyota pays for scheduled maintenance on the Avalon for 2 years and 25000 miles. Toyota will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Kia doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Cadenza.
There are over 63 percent more Toyota dealers than there are Kia dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Avalon’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 Avalon’s reliability 20 points higher than the Cadenza.
J.D. Power and Associates rated the Avalon second among large cars in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The Cadenza isn’t in the top three.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Kia vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Toyota second in reliability, above the industry average. With 18 more problems per 100 vehicles, Kia is ranked 10th.
From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Kia vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Toyota third in reliability. Kia is ranked 9th.
The Avalon’s 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 11 more horsepower (301 vs. 290) and 14 lbs.-ft. more torque (267 vs. 253) than the Cadenza’s 3.3 DOHC V6.
As tested in Motor Trend the Toyota Avalon is faster than the Kia Cadenza:
Zero to 60 MPH
Speed in 1/4 Mile
On the EPA test cycle the Avalon XLE gets better fuel mileage than the Cadenza (22 city/32 hwy vs. 20 city/28 hwy).
In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Toyota Avalon higher (5 out of 10) than the Kia Cadenza (3). This means the Avalon produces up to 16.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Cadenza every 15,000 miles.
For better stopping power the Avalon TRD’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the Cadenza:
The Avalon 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.
The Avalon Touring handles at .82 G’s, while the Cadenza Limited pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.
The Avalon Touring executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Cadenza Limited (26.8 seconds @ .65 average G’s vs. 27.6 seconds @ .63 average G’s).
The Avalon offers available 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 Avalon has 3.1 inches more rear legroom and .6 inches more rear shoulder room than the Cadenza.
The Avalon’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 Avalon Limited/Touring has a standard heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Cadenza doesn’t offer a heads-up display.
The Avalon’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 standard 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 Avalon 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. (This window function must be activated by your Toyota service department.) The driver of the Cadenza can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.
To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the Avalon Limited/Touring has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Cadenza doesn’t offer cornering lights.
The Avalon’s standard rear and side view mirrors have an automatic dimming feature. These mirrors can be set to 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 Avalon owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Avalon will cost $885 to $3670 less than the Cadenza over a five-year period.
The Avalon will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Avalon will retain 42.3% to 43.91% 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 Avalon is less expensive to operate than the Cadenza because it costs $99 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Avalon than the Cadenza, including $480 less for a muffler.
IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Toyota Avalon will be $5804 to $11364 less than for the Kia Cadenza.
Both are recommended, but Consumer Reports® chose the Toyota Avalon as its “Top Pick,” the highest scoring vehicle in its category, based on reliability, safety and performance.
The Toyota Avalon outsold the Kia Cadenza by over 17 to one during 2019.
© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.
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