2015 Kia Sedona review with video
Base price: $27,500 + taxes
As tested: $35,250 + taxes
Highway fuel economy: 13.5 L/100 kms
City fuel economy: 10 L/100 kms
Competition: Chrysler Town & Country, Honda Odyssey, Mazda5, Nissan Quest, Toyota Sienna
Made in: Korea
Oh, boy… the minivan. So many people refuse to go down this road strictly on principal. But from the friends of mine who’ve taken the plunge, they’ve told me there’s no going back. They soak up camping gear, hockey bags and kids like a homemade dinner roll soaks up gravy. But despite the fact that this is a very important category for car companies, Kia had fallen way behind. Its old Sedona went unchanged from 2006-2014. It was long in the tooth and left Kia well out of most people’s minds when shopping around. Enter the completely redesigned 2015 Sedona. Kia is clearly trying to appeal to the minivan haters out there. In fact, it isn’t even calling this a minivan. Instead it’s called an MPV (Multi-Purpose Vehicle). Mazda pulled a similar stunt with its Mazda5 to try and make getting into a dreaded minivan a little more sporty and palatable. Well, the Sedona looks a lot like a minivan to me! But how does it stack up? Read on.
Performance: The Sedona, like all but one of the Kia line-up, is made in Korea. For 2015, Kia has introduced its more aggressive “tiger nose” look to the Sedona’s front end. Now despite the fact there there are nearly ten trim levels, there is only one engine on offer. It’s a 3.3-litre V6 coupled with a six speed automatic transmission. It feels smooth in the city and offers a reasonable amount of get-up-and-go when passing other cars on the highway. Let’s not kid ourselves, this is no sports car. It’s a bit sluggish off the line and its suspension is a little spongy in the corners but it is smooth and comfortable. Kia says the new Sedona gets pretty standard fuel economy for a minivan – around 13.5 litres/100 kms in the city and 10 litres/100 kms on the highway (those number change a little depending on the trim level you choose). I drove our Sedona fairly conservatively on a mix of city roads and highways and got closer to 14.5 litres/100 kms. The Sedona boasts a pretty respectable towing capacity of 3500 lbs. That’s enough to take a small camping trailer into the woods for the weekend. Another thing both Devon and I really liked about the Sedona was its turning radius. For such a large vehicle, it danced around the mall parking lot. It was like watching a cruise ship do donuts… we didn’t see that coming.
Interior: Kia has done some clever things in the interior of the Sedona. From the front seats forward, it really doesn’t feel like a minivan at all. The large sweeping dash and gear shift down by your thigh make it feel much more like an SUV or a sedan. One thing that some families will like (while others won’t) is that Kia decided to forgo the central walk-through from the front seats to the rear. Instead, a large storage bin is in place to, again, give it more of a car-like feel. The central entertainment system is called UVO and has some pretty clever features depending on the trim level you get – things like 360 degree parking cameras, iTunes connectivity and geo-fencing and curfew alert for teen drivers. Its a fairly intuitive system but it is a bit of a reach for smaller people. However, many of the UVO features can be controlled by the steering wheel. In fact, I found the steering wheel to be a little too cluttered with knobs and buttons. There are some great features in the base model though – including cruise control, back-up sensors, USB connectivity and all those steering wheel controls. The front seats are comfortable and supportive and even with a rear-facing child seat in place in the second row, I had plenty of leg room up front… and I’m 6’3. Top marks for the Kia there. The back seats come in three different configurations depending on the trim level you choose. The base trim gives you total seating for eight while the upper level trims have seating for seven. The second row in the highest trim is treated to captain-style seats that recline complete with foot rests. It looks more like the seating system in a Bentley or a private jet than a minivan! And the two-tone leather for higher level trims is also a very classy touch. The lower level LX model that I was driving had cloth seats but Kia says the weave was intentionally very tightly knit to bead water and other spills rather than soak them up. The second row of seats does not stow into the floor, instead they clamshell forward and nest behind the driver and front passenger. Meanwhile, the third row does stow into the floor but when you do that, the stowed seats sit quite a bit higher than the rest of the cargo area. This would be annoying for hauling gear, sleeping in the back on camping trips or for the family dog. The third row has good leg and head room for pre-teen kids but I was pretty scrunched-in back there and it would make carpooling with a van full of big teens pretty tight.
Safety: The Sedona has top marks in every possible category from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Those results give it a Top Safety Pick from that organization. It also has the best safety rating in all the vehicles we’ve tested so far. The highest trim level Sedona gives you lane departure and forward collision warning systems as an option. All wheel drive is not an option, however. Anti-lock brakes and traction control are standard on all trim levels.
The takeaway: Kia has, at last, stepped into the 21st century with its newly redesigned Sedona. A year ago, dealerships had a hard time giving this car away but now Northland Kia, the dealership that lent me our tester for the day, says they’re having a hard time keeping up with the demand. When you factor-in Kia’s famous 100,000 km five year warranty and the fact that the Sedona is coming in at around $5,000 less than the base Honda Odyssey, suddenly it seems like there’s a new horse in the race. The base model Sedona starts at $27,500 and quickly climbs to just shy of $50,000 for the top-of-the-line SX Limited. But that is a very well-equipped vehicle. In fact, a search of the internet is suggesting that limousine drivers are giving the SX Limited a close look for transporting the rich and famous. Not a bad endorsement. So, could the Sedona be the van that wins you over? Suddenly it seems like you’re selling out much less behind the wheel of a minivan… I mean MPV.
Family Wheels pros: Top safety marks, comfortable driving position, best in-class warranty, good value
Family Wheels cons: Second row doesn’t stow away, third row headroom, when stowed third row seats don’t sit flush with cargo area
Family Wheels target: families with two or more kids and/or carpoolers
Family Wheels driver comfort score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels rear passenger score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels trunk test score: 4/5
Family Wheels driveability score: 3/5
Family Wheels fuel economy score: 2/5
Family Wheels value score: 4/5