The Toyota Avalon is now in its 5th generation. Over the years it has evolved in the luxury-leaning sedan market and today features eye-grabbing modern styling, available All-Wheel Drive (AWD), and hybrid engine options.
Arriving later on the scene, the Kia Cadenza joined the Avalon in the premium full-size sedan segment in North America in 2014.
The gas-engine 2021 Avalon XLE has better fuel efficiency ratings with an EPA-estimated 22/32/26 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating while the Cadenza trims have an EPA-estimated rating of 20/28/23 (city/highway/combined). Avalon’s MPG rating advantages increase substantially when you look at the hybrid engine option.
Both vehicles offer luxury, but let’s look at the details to see how the specs compare in categories like safety, performance, and interior.
Publish Date: 11/04/2020
Starting with safety, every 2021 Avalon comes with a suite of standard advanced active safety features. The Cadenza does have similar safety offerings but some are not standard across all Cadenza grades.
These standard safety features are found in Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P). Some features include: Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA), Automatic High Beams (AHB), and Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC).
Similar features like Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Lane Keep Assist-Line (LKA-L), and High Beam Assist (HBA) are standard on the Cadenza. Kia drivers will have to spend $37,850 on the Cadenza Technology or $43,550 on the Cadenza Limited model to get the same standard safety features as the Avalon which starts at $35,875 MSRP.
With so many standard safety features, it's no surprise the 2019 Avalon received the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick+ award when equipped with LED projector headlights. The 2019 Kia Cadenza received a Top Safety Pick designation when equipped with Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist and LED projector headlights.
The Avalon XLE comes standard with LED reflector headlights LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL). To get Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist and LED headlights, drivers need to purchase the Cadenza Technology trim.
Moving on to performance, the Avalon offers the optimal balance between power and fuel efficiency.
Toyota Avalon gas trims are built for power with a 301-horsepower 3.5L V6 engine versus the Kia Cadenza's 3.3L 290-horsepower V6 engine.
The 2021 Avalon XLE gets better gas mileage with an EPA-estimated 22/32/26 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating while all Cadenza trims have an EPA-estimated rating of 20/28/23 (city/highway/combined).
Drivers also have the option of a hybrid drivetrain with the Avalon XLE, XSE, and Limited Hybrid. The 2021 Avalon XLE Hybrid has an even better EPA-estimated 43/44/44 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating. The Kia Cadenza does not offer a hybrid gas/electric option.
In the world of premium and/or luxury sedans, interior features are key. These vehicles come packed with several luxury touches, but the Avalon comes with more for less.
The Avalon Limited features plenty of bells and whistles for a starting MSRP of $42,175 compared to the Cadenza Limited with a starting MSRP of $43,550.
Features like premium leather-trimmed heated and ventilated front seats and a heated tilt/telescopic premium leather-wrapped steering wheel with memory function on the Avalon Limited are comparable to the Cadenza Limited's Quilted Nappa Leather Seat Trim and a Heated Steering Wheel w/Power Tilt & Telescoping.
One place where Avalon takes the lead is with its multimedia system. The Avalon Limited comes standard with Premium Audio, Dynamic Navigation, and JBL® speakers. Its 14 JBL® speakers come with subwoofers and a 1200W amplifier. The Avalon Limited's infotainment system includes hands-free phone capability and music streaming via Bluetooth® and SiriusXM® with a 3-month All Access trial.
The Cadenza Limited sound system includes Harman/Kardon® QuantumLogic™ Premium Surround Sound w/ Clari-Fi™, 630 Watts, and 12 Speakers. The Cadenza Limited infotainment system, UVO eServices, comes with Voice-Command Navigation, SiriusXM® Traffic and HD Radio™. For a more advanced trim for a lower starting price, the Avalon offers similar, if not better, interior luxuries.
In terms of safety, performance, and interior, one vehicle clearly stands out. For safety, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the 2019 Avalon the Top Safety Pick+ award when equipped with LED projector headlights. The 2019 Kia Cadenza received a Top Safety Pick designation when equipped with Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist and LED projector headlights.
For performance, the 2021 Avalon offers better fuel economy, hybrid engine options, and a higher horsepower gas V6 engine than the Cadenza’s V6 gas engine.
When taking a look inside, the Avalon Limited provides more surround-sound speakers than the Cadenza Limited for a lower MSRP. Avalon Limited’s starting MSRP is $42,175, compared to the Cadenza Limited with a starting MSRP of $43,550.
In short, the 2021 Avalon provides quality inside and out to ensure an elevated driving experience.