It's noble, perhaps even brave, of Kia to stick with the good ol' minivan rather than forcing utility customers into an androgynously styled three-row crossover (though Kia makes a couple of those too). The minivan is a vehicle purchased out of necessity, which then spends its entire product cycle attending to an ownership base literally too young to notice or care about its servitude.
And the Kia Sedona is nothing if not a gen-you-wine minivan: its second row slides, its third row hides, and its Peter Schreyer Eye Of The Tiger styling resembles a big, handsome shipping crate for humans. Its automatic transmission has six speeds. Its 3.3-liter V6 produces 276 horsepower, more than the Sorento's outgoing 3.5. It's got not one but two sliding doors -- a feature first offered on the 1996 Dodge Caravan. How many hamsters can you fit in a Sedona? Eight, with the middle row that tucks out of the way -- or seven, with new "First Class" lounge seats that transform into cut-rate Barcaloungers. If you everything out of the way, you can conceivably fit in the back 142 cu. ft of whatever you want to throw in there.
More evidence of minivan-ness: three climate control zones, about a dozen USB charging ports (marked with a battery icon -- a nice modern touch), a flip-down fisheye mirror to give brats the stinkeye, a deep center console that will swallow Nintendos and Tony Robbins "Unleash the Power Within" CDs, and more cupholders than bottle service at Hakkasan.
The Sedona gains two new trim levels: L at the $25,900 bottom end, and SX and SX-L at the top. (These cost $36,100 and $39,900, respectively, and net you such niceties as power sliding doors, surround-view cameras, and Nappa leather upholstery). Opt for SX trim and the First Class seating does all kinds of tricks: the two captain's chairs can recline to nearly 180 degrees, pop out a (sliding!) footrest, slide forward and backward, and also shift from side to side to provide distance between unruly companions. Even the headrest has puffy wings on the sides, like what you'd find on a first-class ticket to the Sedona's Soha-dong, South Korea plant. Not even Kia's interns would deign to suffer this journey in coach.
Unlike business class, however, all of this luxurious functionality is accomplished via levers and paddles, which you pull up and then scooch with your legs and arms to adjust. At nearly $40,000, power captain's chairs on the loaded SX-L seems like a reasonable ask.
First Class, second row! Kia's Lounge seats can do all kinds of Barcalounger tricks. They can't be removed, though.PHOTO BY KIA
What's it like to drive?
You sit high in the Sedona -- that crossover influence creeping into the power driver's seating position -- and the tidy, rational dashboard yawns before you. From this lofty perch, the Sedona feels as solid as its blocky styling suggests: it's heavy, well composed, unflappable. The suspension is mildly bouncy but not floaty. The engine has 276 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque, and puts every last bit of it into action, spurred by smooth six-speed automatic shifts -- the row-your-own section, however, feels like it's made of oatmeal. The steering is light, effective, and thoroughly uninteresting. If it were more weighted, the Sedona would feel invincible.
Arguably the Sedona's strongest trait is how supremely quiet it is: at 60mph, it's so mausoleum-serene that you could hear a child in the third row have an epiphany.
From the back, however, it feels like a completely different vehicle. The further rearward you sit, the choppier the suspension feels. The bumps become harsher, the body control becomes disjointed, the bounces become -- well, bouncier. It's obvious: the MacPherson struts up front treat the driver better than the multi-link rear deals with the riff-raff. Along twisty Skyline Drive, where Kia representatives allowed us to be the very entity that enthusiasts curse, riding in the back threatened both the van's composure and nearly our stomach's.
In that regard, for parents of small children, let us invoke this pertinent passage in the 2015 Kia Sedona press release: "The Sedona also is the only vehicle in the segment outfitted with standard…stain-repelling and stain-releasing fabric characteristics appreciated by anyone who leads an active lifestyle."
The 3.3-liter V6 is direct-injected and comes with a six-speed automatic. It produces 276 horsepower.PHOTO BY KIA
Do you want one?
The 2015 Kia Sedona is spacious, practical, and not engaging at all to drive -- just like a minivan should be. And like a minivan, it's got plenty of room. Its seats fold away easily. It will swallow children and stuff until its 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty expires. Its $25,900 base price offers a lot of room for the money, putting it right in the mix with key competitors like the Toyota Sienna, Nissan Quest, Dodge Grand Caravan, and even the Ford Transit Connect, and it undercuts the Honda Odyssey by several thousand dollars.
Against its rivals, the Sedona's quietness, starting price, and trick Lounge seats make it worth a serious look.
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