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Seoul Seeks to Sell a Lexus Substitute
by Luke Vandezande

Buying a Lexus ES is a lot like eating lunch at Chipotle. You don’t need to be particularly wealthy to do it, but extras like a bottle of beer, chips and guac add up quickly. It can be expensive but that doesn’t matter because customers are never hard to find.

And so it is with Lexus’ mid-size sedan. Like the burrito chain, there’s a degree of implied quality. The product never changes much and that’s OK because nobody really wants it to. Long live reliable brands.

Here’s another premium fast food analogy for you: imitators are never far behind. You might be familiar with Qdoba. If not, you’re definitely familiar with Kia. Qdoba’s burritos aren’t really any cheaper than Chipotle’s, but Kia’s vehicles are usually priced at a discount to their competitors. Earlier this year, the South Korean brand began selling the Cadenza in North America; a V6-powered, front-wheel drive premium highway cruiser meant to compete with Lexus’ ES 350. At any rate, that’s what the marketing material suggests. We spent a week driving them side-by-side to find out.

Sometimes the Specs Say Very Little

Engine size, vehicle size, drivetrain, and transmission type are all similar. The Cadenza costs $35,900, or $1,480 fewer paper portraits of George Washington than an ES 350. The Cadenza is a little bit longer and wider, but not by much. With 293 hp, its 3.3-liter direct injection V6 is smaller, more modern and more powerful than the 3.5-liter, 268 hp motor moving the ES 350.

Transplanted Audi designer Peter Schreyer penned Kia’s recently-handsome product line and it’s hard to argue with his logic. Like Audi, Kia’s cars adhere to a singular design with varying lengths. The Cadenza currently holds the crown as Kia’s big kahuna sedan.
Read the complete Kia Cadenza vs Lexus ES comparison at AutoGuide.com
 

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Of course I am biased against anything Lexus as I had a bad experience with one once but here's something interesting in the reviewer's remarks. Front seat/rear seat legroom. Kia is biased to more room in the front where the ES is biased towards the rear....same overall space though when you add the numbers up!

I have not noticed the shifter issue he spoke of. Anyone else?
 

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No issue with my shifter. Maybe just that car had a problem.
I gripe about a lot of issues with the cadenza but the fit and finish in mine has the lexus ES 350 beat. look at the gaps along the hood or doors they are even and aligned.
the interior is the same, much better fit than the ES 350 and the materials are just as good and better in some places
 
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