Review: 2015 Kia Sedona – With Two Strikes, Kia Steps Into The Minivan Batter's Box Again
Unlike the Honda Odyssey, the all-new, 2015, third-generation Kia Sedona is not the most efficient and athletic minivan on sale today. Unlike the Dodge Grand Caravan, the new Sedona is not the most affordable and flexible. Unlike the Toyota Sienna, the Sedona doesn’t offer unique features like all-wheel-drive or Driver Easy Speak.
• U.S. Market Price As Tested: $42,295
• Horsepower: 276 @ 6000 rpm
• Torque: 248 lb-ft @ 5200 rpm
• Observed Fuel Economy: 19.1 mpg
The Sedona is, however, a relatively successful foray into the North American MPV sector. It’s strengthened by decent on-road behaviour, a high-quality interior, a superb powertrain, and styling that made the neighbourhood teenagers say, “That’s actually really nice.”
So what’s up with that “relatively” qualifier? Regardless of how well executed the third Sedona is, we won’t be able to liken this van’s marketplace success to that of the Sienna, Odyssey, or Grand Caravan.
In the latest Sedona’s best sales month so far, March 2015, sales of America’s top-selling minivan, the Sienna, were 253% stronger. Yeah, it’s actually really nice, but demand won’t be high, and with that fact in mind, Kia won’t ladle out excessive inventory to dealers.
Even accepting the verdict of the local street hockey snipers, you’re right to believe that Kia didn’t build the perfect family minivan. But this is a whole lot of vehicle to cover, so we’re breaking this review into five sections, working from back to front so more bases can be covered systematically. It’s a utilitarian review of a utilitarian product, albeit a surprisingly style-conscious one.
As has long been par for the course in the minivan arena, the Sedona’s third row of seating folds into the floor, though not with perfectly smooth operation and not completely flush with the floor. With the third row up, the Sedona’s cargo area is 13% smaller than the Sienna’s, 12% smaller than the Odyssey’s, and a scant 0.9-cubic-feet larger than the Grand Caravan’s.
The difference in cargo volume isn’t really noticeable until the third row is folded, at which point the other vans offer between 6% and 19% more capacity for newly purchased kitchen appliances. Such comparisons don’t do the Sedona any favours, but they do something of a disservice, as well, masking the sheer livingroom-like space of the cargo area in any modern minivan, Sedona included.
Do you want to sit back here? Of course not, but you’ll prefer it to the third row in three-row crossovers.
It’s certainly not as spacious or comfortable as the Odyssey’s rear cabin, but it’s nice to have options for access. Because the Sedona’s second row captain’s chairs pivot side to side, a passenger banished to the third row can choose to move on back either through the gap between the second-row seats (this fully loaded Limited model isn’t available with eight seats like some Sedonas) or, with the second-row seats moved inward, along the side of the van instead. That’s a useful tool, because the gap through the middle isn’t sufficiently broad even when manually widened.
If your concern with the Sedona’s second row was its lack of Stow’N’Go capability or its non-removable status – most Sedonas can stand their seats upright – then the top-trim model will disappoint from a flexibility standpoint. This Limited Sedona’s two middle chairs can’t be folded, removed, or stacked upright. ( WATCH: The Sedona’s lounge seat in action.)
They can, however, be pushed way back into a third-row-knee-crunching position, steeply reclined, and then maxed out with an extendable footrest. The lankier among us won’t be able to fully realize the comfort of this legs-extended setup, but it rivals or surpasses the Sienna for second-row supremacy.
As a family van, this arrangement is unseemly. There’s also no factory DVD, the seats move around like super glue was recently poured in the tracks, and the central pass-through between the front seats is stuffed full by a tall console like you’d see in any SUV.
So of course the Sedona can’t challenge the Grand Caravan as a pickup truck alternative. But as a continental tourer for older citizens who need to ferry grandchildren around with some frequency, the Sedona impresses. Taking a few snowbirds to Florida for the winter? In that case, a collapsed third row and a Rolls-Royce-aping second row is a lot more enjoyable than a van that does double duty as a truck at Home Depot on the weekends.
The 2015 Kia Sedona’s high points are mostly evident where the adults reside. From Kia’s straightforward UVO interface to the pleasing materials, a throttle pedal that provides access to a responsive 3.3L V6, a spacious passenger footwell, and quiet A-pillars, this is the area of the Sedona that makes other minivans look like second-class citizens that were developed in a prior decade.
Yes, the engine and 6-speed automatic are nicely matched, but while smooth and powerful, the Sedona Limited produces discouraging fuel efficiency figures: 17 mpg city; 22 highway. We saw 19.1 mpg in mostly city driving.
Away from straight lines, however, the Sedona’s comfort-first philosophy causes the van to wallow about in ways that would nauseate an Odyssey owner and disappoint a Sienna driver.
Ride quality is always impressive, but with lifeless and slow steering and more than 4700 pounds to cart around, this won’t be the MPV that makes you say, “car-like.”
This is not your aunt’s Mercury Villager. In the U.S., 2015 Sedonas start at $26,995, but that L trim doesn’t have a backup camera or power doors. The $29,195 Sedona LX adds the backup camera, among other things, but not the power doors, for which you’ll need to step up to the $33,195 middle-rung EX, with its leather seating and an available $1750 premium plus package (heated seats, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, etc.).
The $37,195 SX is a luxurious van but doesn’t have the second-row lounge seating, heated steering wheel, Nappa leather, and the amazing dual sunroofs of the $40,595 Limited, which can be topped up with a $2700 tech package (adaptive cruise, surround view monitor, etc.).
Although this 2015 Sedona represented a clean-sheet design, Kia didn’t prioritize cargo capacity, cargo flexibility, or third row space. And by placing the emphasis on front occupants and exterior styling, Kia won’t easily win over conventional minivan buyers and their growing families.
But on the outskirts of the minivan market there have always been buyers who didn’t prioritize the manifestation of fertility. As luxurious long-haul transportation in lieu of a full-size sedan, the 2015 Sedona Limited is, well, actually really nice. Unfortunately for Kia, I’m one of the guys with a growing family, and though the Sedona is a pleasant place in which to spend time, it simply doesn’t nail an acceptable number of key minivan ingredients.
Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.
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- Bader Hi I want the driver side lights including the bazl and signal
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- El scotto Rumbling through my pantry and looking for the box of sheets of aluminum foil. More alt right comments than actual comments on international trade policy. Also a great deal of ignorance about the global oil industry. I'm a geophysicist and I pay attention such things. Best of all we got to watch Tassos go FULL BOT on us.