ROAD TEST EDITOR JONATHAN WONG: I have to say, this 2015 Kia Sedona is a fantastic looking van. A large, wide version of the tiger grille dominates the front end and helps give the illusion of a lower slung vehicle. That fact that our tester is a range-topping SX Limited model with additional body jewelry like 19-inch wheels, LED running lights and chrome door handles probably helps a little, too.

The interior follows in the footsteps of other Kias: simple design with controls that still include a fair number of hard buttons, which is something I applaud. I’ll take traditional buttons over having most controls integrated into a touchscreen. Materials are of decent quality, but there is still a good amount of road noise that seeps into the cabin. I know, it’s a van and no minivan is going to be whisper quiet, but it seemed louder in there than, say, a Honda Odyssey.

On my one night with the Sedona, I loaded it up with six friends and took them to check out the Detroit auto show. So the Sedona was packed to the max with a total of seven adults. No one really complained about being too uncomfortable, but the full load definitely taxed the poor 3.3-liter V6. Pinning the throttle the to the floor was required for expressway merging, resulting in quite a bit of engine racket and not a lot of acceleration. After the trans eventually shifted up into a higher gear and things quieted down, one of my friends in back asked, “Is that it?” It wasn’t dangerously slow, but to be fair, we had seven adults in there.

Ride quality is an area where the Korean carmakers have struggled in the past, and the Sedona is still a little choppy over broken payment. It’s not harsh or anything, but the competitors like the Toyota SiennaChrysler vans and the aforementioned Odyssey have better-sorted suspensions. Steering is lightly weighted with OK response for a van, while the brakes provide confident stopping performance.

A $43K as-tested price for this Sedona is certainly steep, but is on par with other premium trim models of competing vehicles. In addition to the exterior stuff I listed above, this Sedona SX Limited also includes a dual sunroof, unique interior trim, heated steering wheel with wood trim, napa leather, premium headliner material and front and rear sonar sensors as standard. The optional technology package then throws on other trick things like xenon headlights, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and surround view monitoring system.

There’s a lot of stuff packed into this van, as there should be for the cost of admission, but I think Kia still has some refinement work to do when it comes to the chassis and drivetrain. Once they get those areas up to snuff, Kia will have a strong minivan on its hands. 

Steering is lightly weighted with OK response for a van, while the brakes provide confident stopping performance.PHOTO BY KIA

DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: It’s been a while since we’ve had a truly new minivan on the market, now that everyone’s gravitated to less useful, more SUV-shaped minivans…er “crossovers.” Kia’s jumped back into the game with a really nice entry in the Sedona, particularly in loaded form like our SX Limited, but then they went and priced it pretty much the same as loaded minivans from more established brands, like the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna.

The Sedona is a beautifully equipped van, and it’s not bad to look at either, borrowing lines from the Optima and K900wherever possible. The dash layout, as Jon notes, offers lots of actual buttons in addition to touchscreens, and flexibility in the second and third rows of seating is second to none. Using that flexibility is a bit more of a challenge -- no one on our staff was able to figure out the second row controls without either falling backward in the seat, jamming one’s knees into the front seatback or sliding sideways several times first. And the third row, while clever, uses a rickety-feeling mechanism that forces one to wonder how long it’ll last -- it’s not power-operated, either, which is a surprise at this price point.

While handling and road noise seemed segment-competitive to me, the 3.3-liter V6 is barely adequate for hauling this 4,700-pound beast around, especially when loaded with people and luggage. The required deep-dive into the accelerator is likely responsible for the Sedona’s poor 17 mpg city/22 mpg highway fuel economy: The 3.5-liter Honda Odyssey is rated at 19/28 while a Toyota Sienna will net you 18/25. Cold weather couldn’t have helped, but it was still surprising to see gas mileage in the 16.5 mpg range for most of my Sedona driving.

That’s not to say I didn't enjoy our Kia minivan -- it’s an attractive, well-trimmed people hauler. But when it all comes down to the dotted line, who are you going to give your $43K to, Honda or Kia? 

The required deep-dive into the accelerator is likely responsible for the Sedona’s poor 17 mpg city/22 mpg highway fuel economy: The 3.5-liter Honda Odyssey is rated at 19/28 while a Toyota Sienna will net you 18/25.PHOTO BY KI

WEST COAST EDITOR MARK VAUGHN: What a luxo family hauler this is. The second-row seats should make all but the most spoiled junior plutocrat happy. They recline like rock star/rapper rear seats, with flip-up calf supports and even side-to-side adjustments so you can get closer to -- or farther away from -- your second-row seatmate. This is Korean luxury at its finest.

I had the benefit of driving two of these, one in the frozen Midwestern winter for the Detroit auto show and one in sunny SoCal. In The Motor City I enjoyed the seat heaters which, when switched on, immediately got to the full-hot setting. That is clever. I also got to watch a squadron of AW editors try to flip/fold the third row seats into place and found it was just as confusing and frustrating for them as it would later be for me. The whole third-row seat assembly felt flimsy. It worked fine when finally wrestled into position, but getting it there was a pain. Also, there’s a middle-seat, third-row center shoulder belt that doesn’t want to let go. This was a problem for me later in California when I loaded a mountain bike in back and had to maneuver it around the fixed belt. That belt would lock really easily, too, further exasperating things.

But overall, the all-new 2015 Sedona was a fine and functional family fun hauler that did just about everything the competition would do. The kids, spoiled as they are, noted that there was no rear-seat entertainment system nor any second-row seat massagers (“When I was your age we had vinyl bench seats and no seatbelts! And we liked it!”). There are more than enough USB connectors and 12-volt power outlets, though. I even managed to make a digital audio book play through the Infinity surround sound audio system.

Power was pretty good from the 3.3-liter DOHC GDI CVVT V6, once you showed the gas pedal that you really meant it. I tried a 0-60 launch and got 7.7 seconds, with a little tire squeal at launch even, which is good for a family-hauling minivan. I drove it over a number of mountain roads and used the Sportmatic feature on the six-speed automatic to keep it in the best gear. I’d have liked a little more clicky feel when the Sportmatic shifted, but it worked well enough for the task and I got up and down the hills just fine.

Stickers for Sedonas start at $26,100, but good luck finding that one. The one I drove in LA stickered at $43,295, loaded with everything but seat massagers and rear-seat entertainment. That’s a bit of coin, but a Honda Odyssey Touring Elite is $45,480. Competitors cover that range pretty evenly, depending on how you load them up. Mix ‘n’ match to find the perfect blend for your needs. I can always do without those beeping proximity warning systems, for instance, and in this case that would have knocked $2,700 off the price. Competitors are also all around 4,500 to 4,600 pounds curb weight and all have 3.3- to 3.5-liter V6s making between 250 and 280 or so hp. The Sedona makes 276 hp, nearer to the top of the class.

The question in the minds of many buyers may go to quality in the Kia. In recent years, JD Power has given the Sedona two out of five stars in Quality, Performance & Design and Dependability. Last year JDP moved the Sedona up to three stars in Performance and Design. There’s no rating for our 2015 yet, but you can just hear some Kia exec squealing, “It’s all-new for 2015! Give it a chance, man!” 

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