2015 Kia SedonaPosted on February 10th, 2015
Minivan breaks out of the box
By Nina Russin
Sometimes the best way to increase sales in a shrinking market segment is by redefining it. Kia’s strategy with its all-new Sedona minivan is just that: combining crossover-like styling with new connectivity features to give its family-friendly car twenty-first century appeal.
Kia is one of a handful of players who continue to produce minivans, competing against Toyota, Honda and Chrysler. While its competitors continue to play it safe with tried-and-true features such as foldaway seating and giant center console bins, the Korean automaker is sacrificing a bit of practicality for some much needed sex appeal.
Design guru Peter Schreyer penned the exterior, with a more pronounced front end and grille that bears striking resemblance to the mid-sized Sorento crossover. A taller beltline results in a narrower greenhouse, but gives the Sedona some shoulders and a more interesting profile. A roof-mounted spoiler and aggressive rear fascia frame the wrap-around tail lamps, preventing the slab sided appearance that plagues many members of the genre.
Inside, the Sedona seats up to eight passengers. Optional lounge seats in the second row rival living room furniture for comfort, while an available dual-pane sunroof adds a welcome dose of ambient light. The newest version of Kia’s UVO infotainment system developed in conjunction with Microsoft adds new services such as geo-fencing and curfew alerts for younger drivers as well as a host of new apps under the Kia App Store umbrella.
Priced from $26,100
Kia maintains its focus on value with a starting price of $26,100, excluding the $895 destination charge. The upscale SXL grade tested starts at $39,700. Power for all models comes from a direct injection 3.3-liter engine rated at 276-horsepower with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Standard comfort and convenience features on the test car include 19-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and start, tri-zone climate control, Infinity surround-sound audio system, satellite radio, Nappa leather seating with second-row lounge seats, fold-in-floor third-row seats, smart power tailgate, dual-pane sunroof and heated outside mirrors.
A technology package adds bi-xenon headlamps, lane departure warning, forward collision warning a surround-view monitor and adaptive cruise control.
Test drive in Arizona
This week I drove the Sedona on surface streets and highways in Phoenix, Arizona’s east valley including the cities of Chandler, Tempe and Scottsdale as well as through a section of the Gila River Indian reservation south of town. Overall, the Sedona proved to be an excellent all-purpose vehicle, with a spacious, versatile interior, important active safety features and appealing luxurious touches throughout.
The Sedona’s average fuel economy is 19 miles-per-gallon, lagging behind the segment-leading Odyssey at 22. Part of the reason is the Sedona’s slightly less aerodynamic exterior. Honda also offers a cylinder cut-off feature that stretches gas mileage by deactivating half of the V-6 engine’s cylinders under low load situations.
Kia’s 3.3-liter engine offers plenty of power for motoring around town as well as keeping up with high-speed traffic on the highway. Driving through a 75 mile-per-hour section of highway to the south where the speed of traffic is well over 80, the Sedona cruised along with ease, having plenty of power on the top end for passing slower vehicles. Two hundred forty-eight foot-pounds of peak torque adds good acceleration off the line and in the 20-50 mile-per-hour range drivers use on highway entrance ramps.
The six-speed automatic transmission seems well matched to the engine, progressing smoothly through the gears. There is no obvious shift shock during normal driving conditions.
The driver can choose between three driving modes that modify throttle mapping and shift points according to his needs. An eco mode extends fuel economy during long sections of highway.
The surround-view monitor is a useful add-on to the standard rearview camera. A split screen image projects both at the same time, enabling the driver to see any obstacles in the vehicle’s perimeter. It’s an important safety feature for parents of small children who might get close to the car when it’s idling in the driveway.
On crowded highways, standard blind spot monitoring projects LED signals in the side mirrors when vehicles in adjacent lanes move through the driver’s blind spots. The Sedona has thick rear pillars that create large blind spots in the back corners: blind spot monitoring enables the driver to change lanes confident that there are no obstructing vehicles in his path.
An electric power steering system saves weight and space under the hood. It also eliminates mechanical components that can break down during the life of the vehicle. There is ample assist at low speeds for good maneuverability. A 36.8-foot turning circle is quite good for a car of this size. On-center response at higher speeds is soft, but I was able to simulate an emergency lane change with relative ease.
Unlike Toyota, Kia does not offer an all-wheel drive variant of its minivan: something for drivers living in four-season climates to consider. But engineers maintained a good front-to-rear weight balance minimizing the front-wheel drive Sedona’s tendency to push in the corners.
A four-wheel independent suspension consists of MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link setup in the back, offering all three rows of passengers a comfortable ride.
Four-wheel disc brakes stop the Sedona in firm, linear fashion.
Designers equipped the upscale Sedona with a luxurious interior. Keyless entry and start saves the driver from fumbling for the key fob when kids are anxious to get inside. The smart tailgate opens automatically when the driver stands behind it with the key fob in his hand: no kicking under the bumper necessary.
I found the power driver’s seat easy to adjust for a clear forward view and quite comfortable during my three-hour test drive. An adjustable lower lumbar support and dead pedal reduce lower back and leg fatigue on long treks.
Kia designers departed from traditional minivan wisdom by making the center stack and console a single, uninterrupted unit, the idea being to give the interior a sportier appearance. I found myself missing the open space that normally exists at the front of the center console that is perfect for stashing a purse or other personal items.
The second-row lounge seats have ample head, leg and hip room for tall adults. Multiple adjustments enable kids to nap during long road trips.
Third-row seats fold flat into the floor creating a space large enough for bicycles, skis, snowboards and camping equipment. The Kia Sedona tows up to 3500 pounds: meeting our ALV minimum standards.
I found both the center stack screen and gauge cluster easy to read in bright sunlight. Redundant steering wheel controls minimize driver distraction.
The Kia Sedona comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, front active headrests, electronic stability control, antilock braking and tire pressure monitoring. Kia maintains its 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty to protect buyers from repair expense due to defects in manufacturing.
The new Sedona is on display at Kia dealerships nationwide.
Like: A stylish minivan that steps away from the pack with a bold exterior and luxurious interior, plus a high level of standard safety features.
Dislike: Fuel economy lags behind chief competitors. Center stack and console design eliminates some important storage space next to the driver.
Model: Sedona SXL
Base price: $39,700
As tested: $43,295
Horsepower: 276 Hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 248 lbs.-ft. @ 5200 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 17/22 mpg city/highway2015, Minivan 2015, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, auto review, Kia, performance, pricing, standard safety
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