Driver's Seat: The new Sedona is quick on its feet
2015 Kia Sedona SX-L: Upgrade for the family. Price: $43,295 as tested. (This included $2,700 for the Technology Package, which featured lane departure and forward collision warning, surround-view monitor, and smart cruise control.) A base model can be had for $26,100.
2015 Kia Sedona SX-L:
Upgrade for the family.
Price: $43,295 as tested. (This included $2,700 for the Technology Package, which featured lane departure and forward collision warning, surround-view monitor, and smart cruise control.) A base model can be had for $26,100.
Marketer's pitch: "Transform your drive."
Conventional wisdom: Edmunds.com likes the "distinctive dashboard and cockpit; value-priced; unique forward-collapsing second-row seats; extensive equipment availability; quiet cabin," but not the "subpar fuel economy ratings in SX-L trim; slightly less cargo space than primary rivals; SX-L's lounge seats don't collapse forward."
Reality: Somewhere between transformation and just transportation.
Family-friendly: There's no reviewer out there better equipped to put a minivan to the test than Mr. Driver's Seat. With the Lovely Mrs. Passenger Seat and Sturgis Kids 1.0 through 4.0, and the Sturgis Family Sienna as comparison, we put minivans through their paces.
And so it was with the 2015 Kia Sedona, a redesigned van that we couldn't wait to test.
What's new: The Sedona gets a whole new look - at least as much of that as a box for people can get.
The rear has grown more boxy, à la the latest generation of the Nissan Quest, and the front received a more modern Kia-like treatment, with a prominent grille set between pairs of rather angry-looking headlights.
Friends and stuff: We put three of the four Sturgis Kids inside for a road trip to the Big Apple. Sturgis Kids 1.0 and 4.0 report that the middle row in the SX-L - a trim level that gets a pair of captain's chairs that recline - was a reasonably comfortable place to spend a couple hours.
Sturgis Kid 1.0 reports that the seats are not as comfortable as the Sienna's - though they're fine when reclined, sitting upright is not great - and legroom is not nearly as generous when one full-size Sturgis young man sat behind the other.
Loading the Sedona is even more challenging. Other trim levels get three seats in the middle row that fold forward to stand tall, but the SX-L's seats only slide slightly out of the way. So the Sedona fails the 4-by-8 sheet-carrying contest, a severe drawback in a minivan.
Up to speed: The 3.3-liter engine creates 276 horsepower, a sizable amount of oomph to haul a big rig and eight people around. While this is 10 more than the latest Sienna, something in the six-speed automatic's shift logic or computer controls was amiss, and did not offer the solid performance I've had in the Sienna. A distinct hesitation made the Sedona a bit frightening when pulling out to pass.
On the road: On the bright side, the Sedona doesn't feel like a big, lumbering house on wheels like the Sienna does. Honda's Odyssey is definitely the best-handling of the minivans, and the Sedona is closer to it than to the bulky Sienna.
Seeing out: Visibility from the Sedona is awesome. I never had any concerns about seeing what was around me.
Play some tunes: The stereo in the Sedona offers B-plus sound. It's clear, but the emphasis seems a little on the treble side. Adjusting bass, midrange and treble didn't make enough of a difference.
Controls: From the stereo to the HVAC to the other various functions, all of the controls of the Sedona seemed complicated and hard to operate at a glance and by feel. A long row of buttons underneath the radio resembles an older-style Sienna setup, and a long row of buttons for the heater sits under that.
Seat heater, cooler, and other functions are on the console and never in more than 500 miles of driving did I feel that I could just glance and make my choice.
Feedback: One nice touch was a display next to the speedometer that flashed on to show what wiper mode I'd just selected. It can be difficult to tell in many vehicles.
On the downside, the cabin didn't have a lot of lighted switches or ambient light, so knowing what I was doing in the dark could be a challenge.
Fuel economy: I averaged 19.6 m.p.g. in a mix of highway-heavy turnpike and parked-in-Manhattan driving.
Where it's built: Sohari, South Korea.
How it's built: The Sedona hasn't yet been rated by Consumer Reports, but the previous generation was on the bottom rung of CR's ratings ladder for reliability.
In the end: Kia has caught up to other automakers in so many other redesigns, and the Soul sets the pace for affordable, practical, and fun little cars. But the Sedona remains behind the Sienna and Odyssey.