hauling lots of people or cargo – or a road trip-ready mix of the two – no type
of vehicle is as inherently well-designed as a minivan. The minivan is a
packaging marvel, a function-over-form bus that leaves high-riding long-nosed
SUVs and crossovers in the dust. There's abundant space in three rows of seats,
and abundant space behind them.
2015 Kia Sedona is redesigned and
transformed from a budget alternative to a luxury leader in the minivan
that's what's inherent to the minivan, what's found in each of the vans that
have survived the onslaught of less versatile but more stylish, luxurious
crossovers. Just Chrysler, Dodge (selling the same car as Chrysler with
slightly different styling), Honda, Kia,
Nissan, and Toyota are selling conventional minivans these days, along with
much smaller models from Ford and Mazda.
segment's malaise is at least in part the fault of the current crop of vans.
They remain outstanding for functionality, but failed to chase after
crossovers' appeal. Nothing intrinsic to a minivan says it can't have a
luxurious cabin and sophisticated driving dynamics like a growing number of
similarly priced crossovers. Today's vans just weren't doing that.
the redesigned 2015 Kia
Sedona. Abandoning previous generations' focus on low prices, the new model
successfully attacks the competition's complacent inattention to luxury while
striving – with nearly as much success – to match the class leaders for
traditional virtues of versatility, comfort, and value.
Sedona has the best front seats in its class. It has the best interior quality.
It has the most advanced and best-sorted in-dash infotainment system. It feels
the most solid and confident on the road. And in the eyes of many, it's the
looker of its class, both inside and out. It has a number of features that
various leading competitors lack. In short, from the driver's seat, the Sedona
is the best minivan on the market.
course, minivans exist for more than the driver. Such considerations provide a
few reasons that some competitors are still in the game.
of all, the Honda Odyssey still reigns supreme for eight-passenger comfort. The
Sedona offers great accommodations for four adults, adequate third-row seating
for two, and two small center-rear positions. The Honda is comparatively cushy
and spacious throughout. The Honda also has a little more cargo room and
requires less muscle for seat adjustments, and offers a class-exclusive
built-in vacuum cleaner.
Toyota Sienna also beats out the Sedona for maximum interior volume while also
keeping the ride quality a little more smooth and quiet, and while offering
class-exclusive all-wheel-drive. Recent updates for 2015 cleaned up last year's
curious dashboard styling and ergonomics.
Dodge Grand Caravan/Chrysler Town & Country twins, the best-selling
minivans on the market, excel for the flexibility of their Stow 'N Go interiors
– the middle-row seats fold into the floor – and steadily increasing discounts.
(Importantly, Chrysler is due to unveil a fully redesigned minivan for the 2016
model year that will likely up the luxury ante and dial back the discounts.)
three, plus the generally uncompetitive Nissan Quest, also beat at least some
Sedona versions for fuel economy. Most Sedonas are rated by the EPA for 20
miles per gallon in mixed driving, compared to 21 mpg from the Sienna and 22
mpg for the Odyssey and Quest. (The Chryslers get 20 mpg; the tested Sedona
SX-L model is rated for 19 mpg.)
compared to the Sedona and the best crossovers, the other leading vans have the
feel of utilitarian buses from the front seat. Even luxury amenities don't make
them feel like luxury cars. It's the Kia that pulls that off, and at
prices generally below Honda's and Toyota's at that. It also matches the
Odyssey as a safety leader, edging out the Sienna and crushing – literally –
the Chryslers and Nissan in a demanding Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
small-offset crash test.
loved the old Sedona for undercutting the competition by as much as five
figures after rebates, the new 2015 model may not be to your tastes. Certainly
not the fully-optioned $43,295 model tested for this review. But there weren't
enough of you buying Sedonas even at fire-sale prices before. Accordingly, Kia can't feel too guilty about
abandoning the van's budget roots.
this van a long look for all your passenger-hauling needs, all the way up from
its $26,100 base price up to beyond $40,000. The Sedona has the goods to
compete in all those price segments.
To look at
styling is not the most important factor to a minivan buyer. Then again, there
are a lot fewer minivan buyers than there used to be.
front end of the new 2015 Sedona adopts a bold stance, with a large wide
vertical grille between the large headlights. Clean, straight lines lend it a
handsome, aggressive look compared to more rounded competitors. Head-on, it
looks like the front fascia of a midsize sedan raised up higher. This front-end
styling has a shot at turning the heads of some buyers who'd otherwise not
consider a minivan.
rest of the Sedona is pretty much minivan norm, though. The exception is that
the windowline abruptly jogs up at the end of the rear door. (Contrast that to
the Honda Odyssey's, which actually jumps down there, giving the third-row
passengers a little more window instead of less.) But at least from the
outside, the Sedona otherwise has few styling flourishes visible from the rear
– it doesn't call attention to itself, except by avoiding the word
“overwrought” that some critics readily apply to the Odyssey.
is where the Sedona makes perhaps its strongest impression. If you haven't
noticed, Kia has
built a lot of upscale interiors lately, and this van's follows their example.
The 2015 Sedona is laid out like a modern premium sedan rather than like a van,
with a fixed center console and horizontally instead of vertically oriented
controls. The shifter is on the console rather than up on the instrument panel,
dashboard, or steering column. Two-tone leather seats are available.
not just the looks that are upscale. Kia also went
all-out with the materials and assembly quality, continuing the coddling
ambiance. Competitors are serviceable; the Sedona breaks new ground. Of course,
plenty of buyers of $40,000-plus crossovers are used to this sort of treatment,
but it's new to minivan buyers.
once similarly shocked the minivan market, when it put a Lexus-grade cabin in
the 2004 Sienna. The current Sienna's interior, though, did not continue to
pursue the premium trends in style or materials quality – pleasant, yes, but it
won't be confused for a Lexus. The Nissan Quest, meanwhile, has a fancy-looking
dashboard, but other key aspects of the cabin fall short, and its five-year-old
design has begun to get a little dated. The Chrysler vans have scattered
upscale touches but are mostly basic and dated as well; this perhaps explains
why the Town & Country's photo gallery on the Chrysler website includes a
close-up of the headlight switch but no images of the dashboard. And the
Odyssey, despite some welcome 2014-model updates, still has mostly
basic-feeling trim and some dated displays.
Sedona's dashboard isn't just upscale – it's user-friendly as well. The
instrument panel on the Sedona SX and SX-L features Kia's excellent Uvo
touchscreen infotainment system plus a well-organized set of buttons and knobs.
One annoyance, though, is that there's no dedicated display for the climate
information, so you can't tell at a glance what you've already set the system
Sedona L, LX, and EX models have only a small touchscreen that looks out of
place in the big and luxurious instrument panel. The former two models, without
automatic climate control, do avoid the aforementioned issue of needing a
To be in
noted, the 2015 Sedona has great front seats that are well-shaped, supportive, and
comfortable. Drivers of the tested SX-L model (also called, in various places,
the SXL, Limited, or SX Limited) benefit further from rich Nappa leather trim,
heated and cooled front seating, and a heated steering wheel.
vans have more basic seating, with seats that you sit on while you drive your
van-bus but that don't really strive to coddle. The Odyssey's are the best of
the rest – big and cushy – but they don't hold the driver in place like a good
car seat, and even $45,000 doesn't buy very plush-feeling leather.
second row is a mixed bag in the Sedona. The SX-L has “first-class lounge
seats” with a pop-up footrest, but it's not the easiest to make use of them.
The middle row seats must be slid closer together and far back, two processes requiring
an unexpected amount of force. The footrests are also reluctant to go back
down, and the feature removes other Sedona's far handier seat-folding system
for cargo space and third-row access.
normal position, the Sedona's second row has a comfortable cushion but merely
adequate legroom. Sliding the fore-aft adjustable seat back very far makes it
collide unceremoniously with trim behind the door. You can also slide the seats
a little closer together, which gives access to the full fore-aft range.
and SX models offer eight-passenger seating (unlike the Chryslers or Nissan),
and although this reviewer hasn't sampled the seat, it appears more full-sized
than in the Sienna (though less so than in the Odyssey).
third row is adequately spacious unless the middle seats are very far back, but
the cushion is lower and less cushy than the Odyssey's. The low seat and high
window threaten kids' enjoyment of the third row. Both the second and third
rows do benefit from retractable window shades. There's also an available
second-row sunroof, and second-row passengers get their own USB port and even
three-prong power outlet in some high-end models.
Sedonas, a simple handle lets the middle-row seat collapse itself forward
against the front seatbacks for improved cargo space and third-row access. This
feature – along with heated rear seats – was apparently incompatible with the
lounge seating, however, which is a good reason to pass on the SX-L despite its
other nice features. Hopefully Kia chooses to make
the seat an option rather than standard on any version of the van; it's a neat
trick but forces too many important compromises to necessarily count as an
most recent vans, the Sedona's third row seat flips backward to disappear into
a deep cargo well behind it. The Kia's
operation isn't as smooth as the brilliantly executed Odyssey's – the Sedona
seat does fold in a single motion, but it requires two hands to push it down.
Once down, it's not quite level with the cargo floor, and exposed hooks also
could make it harder to slide heavy items along the van's floor. The middle-row
seats, on models where they do spring forward, operate very nicely and does
leave a flat cargo floor. They can't be removed to eke out a few remaining
cubic feet, though.
Sedona's cargo volume trails the Odyssey's and Sienna's by up to 10 percent,
but that's still tons of space and far more than a crossover or SUV. A
Chevrolet Suburban, fully two feet longer than this Kia, still has just 121
cubic feet of total cargo space compared to the Sedona's 142, thanks to its
high cargo floor (which also makes it more of a pain to load in that cargo).
driving dynamics of the Sedona aren't quite as outstanding as its interior
luxury. The Sedona's ride quality could stand to be a little less bumpy at
times, the Sienna is quicker and quieter, and the Odyssey and the Chryslers are
a little more agile.
said, the whole is quite a bit greater than the sum of its parts. The Sedona
stands out for a smooth, solid-feeling overall operation, a level of confident
poise that furthers its premium ambiance. It feels very natural to drive the
Sedona, easy and comfortable. It never feels ponderous or clumsy, and even if
it doesn't lead for cabin isolation, it's still a thoroughly pleasant family
exception is the tuning of the accelerator. You have to dig deep to get normal
acceleration, an overcorrection from the touchy throttle on the previous
Sedona. This combines with a smooth but loud roar from the engine that makes
you feel like an irresponsible hooligan even when you're barely keeping up with
traffic. The outstanding Hyundai Santa Fe crossover, using the same engine,
does a much better job at responding smoothly to a normal amount of throttle
Sedona's 3.3-liter V6 is one of the performance leaders on paper, with 276
horsepower. The tested SX-L in particular is rather heavy, though, which mutes
acceleration somewhat. As noted earlier, this also takes its toll on fuel
efficiency. The SX-L is rated for 17 mpg in the city and 22 on the highway, for
a total of 19 mpg in mixed driving – the worst in the class.
other Sedona models do better. Base models – the L, LX, and EX – are less
weighed down with heavy goodies – which gives them a 20-mpg average. And the SX
weighs less than the SX-L but has a more fuel-efficient electric steering rack,
giving it a competitive 21-mpg EPA rating.
tested Sedona SX-L slightly beat its EPA rating during a weeklong test,
achieving 20.2 mpg in mixed driving. A pair of tested Odysseys (a 2011 and a
2014) also slightly beat out their 22-mpg EPA ratings.
Sedona is a competitive value at any feature grade. The base L, $26,100, will
be off most buyers' shopping lists for lacking power sliding doors, and it's
also missing a useful rearview camera and it seats only seven. Standard
features do include 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity, rear air
conditioning, and 12 cup holders.
next level up, the LX, starts at $28,300, adds a power driver's seat, the
backup camera, automatic headlights, and power-folding outside mirrors. Those
features alone hardly justify the $2,000 price increase, so if you don't need
them, stick to the L. However, if you want power sliding doors, you need to
upgrade your LX further with the $1,800 convenience package. That cost also
adds heated front seats, an eighth seat (located at the center of the middle
row), a cooled glovebox, and window shades for the second and third rows.
van, at $30,995 including the destination charge, could turn out to be the
line's best seller. It's roughly comparable to a $33,155 Odyssey EX, $32,215
Sienna LE, and a $28,390 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT.
$32,300 EX model adds leather seats, a power liftgate, a proximity key,
automatic climate control, 18-inch wheels, fog lights, and various minor
features. It also includes the features from the LX convenience package except
for the heated seats. The $1,750 premium plus package on the EX has heated
seats for the first and second rows of seats, blind-spot detection, rear
cross-traffic alert, a power passenger seat, and a fancier instrument cluster
display, coming to $34,945.
model, starting at $36,300 ($37,195 with destination), adds the features from
the EX premium package plus a navigation system with an 8-inch touchscreen, an
Infinity sound system, the 110-volt three-prong power outlet, ventilated front
seats, and a memory function for the power driver's seat. Given those extras,
it's overall a better deal than the EX if you already want heated leather
seats, especially given that gas mileage also improves on the SX.
comparable models would be a $38,655 Odyssey EX-L, a $37,450 Town & Country
Touring L, and a $37,155 Sienna XLE.
estimates that you can haggle about $2,300 off the sticker price of the Sedona
SX compared to $3,500 off a comparably equipped Odyssey, and $4,500 off a
Sienna or Town & Country. That will likely equalize as the Kia's newness wears off.
(Expect the amount of the discount to depend on the total sticker price of the
car, with cheaper models staying closer to MSRP and dealers being more flexible
with pricier trims.)
tested SX-L has a number of exclusive features that could win some families to
load their van to the gills if price isn't a top consideration. It's the only
Sedona with a sunroof (though it does include two), front parking assist
sensors, the lounge-style second-row seats, and a heated steering wheel. It
also adds 19-inch wheels, upgraded Nappa leather seat trim, and some upgraded
tested car also includes the $2,700 technology package: xenon headlights, a
lane-departure warning system, radar-based cruise control, a forward-collision
alert, and a “surround view” camera system that renders the van from the air in
relation to surrounding obstacles. That brought the total price to $43,295.
that even if you want some of these SX-L features, you're still stuck with the
less convenient lounge seats whether you want them or not – a pity.
Kia may no longer have the title
of best-value minivan in terms of simple pricing, but that may not be the best
way to judge the new 2015 Sedona. Rather, it's a van that delivers a luxury
experience without demanding a price premium for it. If that's at all a
priority to you, be sure to shop the Sedona.
even if it's not, with so few minivans on the market, you'd do well to add the
Sedona to your shopping list. It's a safe, roomy, comfortable vehicle that
deserves the same top-tier consideration as the established competition.