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The Kia Sedona has just about everything the Honda Odyssey has, except the reputation, for a lot less money. Toyota and Honda have an edge on quality, ride and handling, but the Sedona is a compelling value in this class, offering convenience, comfort, style and performance.
From the outside, the Sedona looks classy and stylish. Inside, there's seven-passenger seating with seats that easily collapse to create a vast cargo space. Every cabin convenience known to man is either standard or available. Storage space is everywhere you turn, and there are no fewer than 14 cup holders.
Sedona has achieved a five-star crash certification in all seating positions from the Federal government, and a Top Safety Pick rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Kia says it designed the Sedona by studying other minivans, choosing the best features, and improving them. Sedona's engine, for example, is a modern V6 tuned to 250 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque. That's more than a match for Honda Odyssey's 244 hp and 240 pound-feet. And just like Odyssey, Sedona backs up that power with a responsive five-speed automatic transmission and a sophisticated suspension.
Sedona was all-new for 2006. For 2007, Kia added a short-wheelbase (SWB) variant that still seats seven but offers less cargo space, while slicing $2,900 off the base price. Some content has been rearranged for 2008, and all stereo systems now come with an auxiliary input jack, but otherwise there have been no further changes.
The 2008 Kia Sedona is offered in two wheelbase lengths. Both seat seven, with the shorter, SWB version giving up mostly luggage space, and a little passenger space in both the second and third rows. The short version comes in a single trim level. The long-wheelbase (LWB) version comes in two trim levels.
Sedona SWB ($21,065) comes with cloth upholstery, two rows of two captain's chairs, and a removable 50/50 split bench in back. The first two rows get power windows; third-row windows tilt out manually. Three-zone climate control also comes standard, along with power locks with remote keyless entry, two 12-volt power outlets, intermittent wipers front and rear, a front wiper de-icer, privacy glass, eight-speaker CD sound system with new auxiliary input jack, cruise control, tilt steering wheel, overhead console, and 16-inch tires on steel wheels. Options include a Convenience Package ($300) consisting of roof rails and carpeted floor mats; roof-rail cross bars ($200); and just the floor mats ($150).
Sedona LWB LX ($23,965) gets upgraded cloth upholstery and a full heated front windshield, along with additional space in both the second and third rows. The 60/40 split third row folds flat into the floor, instead of being removable. Dual power sliding doors ($800) and a trailer hitch ($375) are optional; so is a DVD entertainment system ($1,200) with two wireless headsets and remote.
Sedona LWB EX ($26,565) comes with an even more deluxe cloth interior and adds power front seats, MP3-capable stereo with new auxiliary input jack, leather-wrapped steering wheel, power rear quarter windows, solar control windshield and front door windows, automatic headlamps, fog lights, heated side mirrors, roof rails with crossbars, self-dimming rearview mirror, Homelink garage door opener, trip computer with compass, illuminated vanity mirrors, a cargo net, and 17-inch alloy wheels with lower-profile tires.
Options for the EX include the Power Package ($1,000) with power sliding doors and liftgate; the Luxury Package ($2,400) with leather upholstery, heated front seats, power adjustable pedals, a memory function (for seats, pedals, and mirrors), automatic climate control, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, sunroof, back-up warning system, and an engine immobilizer; and the Premium Entertainment Package ($1,700), consisting of a 660-watt stereo with 7.1 surround sound, 13 Infinity speakers, and an auxiliary input jack, and a DVD player with eight-inch monitor, two wireless headsets, and remote.
Safety features include the mandated frontal airbags (the front passenger airbag turns itself off if a child is in the seat), side-impact airbags (for torso protection) for front-seat passengers, curtain airbags (for head protection) for the outboard passengers in all three rows of seats, and anti-whiplash active headrests in front. Also standard are electronic stability control with traction control, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution (ABS with EBD) and brake assist, and a tire-pressure monitor.
It's not easy for any minivan to be distinctive, and if the Sedona's styling isn't unique, it is clean and crisp, and classy. Its heart is European, and that influence spreads to its handsome styling.
The sheet metal has been carefully sculpted. A crease tapers down from the steeply sloping windshield to the grille, falling between the big wedge-shaped headlights and the small sharp corners of two horizontal grille openings, long black slots with a single chrome strip in each, and Kia badge in center. The fascia/bumper under the grille is thick, with an air intake having cage-like slats to keep out stones. Tidy fog lamps on the EX surround the intake, inside cavities that sweep up at the corners to match the lines of the headlamps.
The wheelwell flares are nicely done. They don't go out of their way to be noticed, by being bigger than they need to be; they carry just the right squared-off but smooth edges. They're sculpted by the same knife that carved the beltline running from the headlamps to taillights. The standard six-spoke, 16-inch wheel covers are nothing special, but the 10-spoke, 17-inch alloys that come with the EX are beautiful and elegant, sending a message that this minivan has style.
The sides of the Sedona aren't too busy, given all they have to do; dings are caught by a low, thick, body-colored horizontal strip, and there's a necessary gash under each third window for the sliding rear doors. The trailing edge of that third window matches the modest slope of the roofline.
The rear view is functional, with a big rear window and taillights whose shape matches the lines of the rest of the vehicle. From the rear, the Sedona lacks style; it could be any minivan.
The shorter, SWB version rides a wheelbase of only 113.8 inches, which is 5.1 inches shorter than the more popular, LWB models. At 189.4 inches overall, the SWB is 12.6 inches shorter, bumper-to-bumper, than the LWB versions. All of this length seems to have come out of the Sedona's hindquarters, which are noticeably stubbier in the shortie version. There's far less wraparound to the rear bumper; the slot for the sliding rear door almost reaches the tail light, and the rear wheel tucks up tighter against the rear edge of the sliding side door. The shorter minivan's greenhouse seems proportioned just right for a compact station wagon, although of course the lower portion of the vehicle remains mini-van tall. Overall, the chop job has been very well handled, with little compromise in Sedona's appearance.
Kia's approach to designing the Sedona, copying and bettering the competition, is reflected in the interior. It's a cohesive improvement of all that's out there.
The Kia Sedona driver feels like the master of her or his domain, looking down on the vast and functional center stack with all its controls, including a big leather-wrapped shift knob. This is a much better location for the shifter than between the seats. The center stack in our fully loaded EX was finished in a soft, dark simulated wood that looks way better than the hard, shiny real wood found in many luxury cars. All the main controls are there, and are mostly easy-to-operate square black buttons with easily read white lettering. Air vents are black and business-like. The EX has more controls on the steering wheel (audio and cruise control) and driver's door, including the metaphorical power seat adjustment in the shape of a seat, copied from Mercedes-Benz.
With the center stack containing all the controls, plus the first two of a total of 14 cup holders (one for each hand of each passenger), the space between the front seats is used for a sideways flip-up tray/console, containing the third, fourth, fifth and sixth cup holders.
The power seat extends farther back than the standard manual-adjustment seat, offering more legroom. We co-drove an LX with a six-foot-four fellow whose legs were cramped in the manual seat. The cloth interior in the LX was okay, too, but the gray leather in our own test model EX was beautiful and supple, and the front seats provided excellent bolstering.
The three-zone climate control system offers separate temperature settings for driver, passenger, and rear-seat passengers. Climate control is fully automatic in the EX.
The windows along the second row lower and raise at the press of a button, giving your passengers real live fresh air and a tactile view. The optional power sliding doors and liftgate, triggered on the instrument panel or remote key fob, are a wonderful convenience.
The Sedona comes with captain's chairs in the second row. Second-row legroom in the long-wheelbase models is a generous 40.9 inches. The SWB model maintains the same second-row head and hip room, but legroom shrinks to 37.0 inches.
Third-row bench seating is standard on all models. In LWB versions the third row is split 60/40 and folds into the floor.
The LWB Sedona offers 32.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third-row seat. This area is recessed like the trunk of a car, so grocery bags won't slide around as much.
The second-row seats fold, but not flat. Press a button and each seatback folds down and then the seat flips up so it squeezes against the front seatback. For maximum cargo space, the second-row seats can be easily removed, creating a carpeted cargo van with 142 cubic feet of cargo space.
The SWB model comes with an older-style 50/50 split rear seat that must be removed and stored in your garage to maximize cargo space. Third-row passengers in the SWB lose nearly an inch of hip room and nearly two inches of head room when compared with the popular long-wheelbase models. Also, cargo space behind the third row is just 12.9 cubic feet. Remove the second and third rows and the SWB model offers 121 cubic feet of carpeted cargo space.
Cubby storage in the Sedona includes two glove compartments, one in the face of the dash, and a larger one at knee level, containing a bin, big slot for CDs, and a hole for a cell phone. There is a flip-down compartment at the very bottom of the center stack big enough for CDs. There's a sunglasses holder overhead, wide door pockets, and compartments for the second- and third-row passengers. And there are cup holders for everyone.
Visibility rearward from the driver's seat is especially good, an important contribution to safety, because the rear window is as big as it can be, and the headrests over the five rear seats sink down to the tops of the seats. And if there are kids back there, there's a convex mirror on the headliner so you can keep an eye on them, and yell at them before they do the things that will cause you to yell at them.
Our EX was equipped with the $1,700 Premium Entertainment Package, including a DVD player and 13-speaker Infinity audio system. We expected some sensational surround-sound, but were disappointed in the richness, depth and volume of the system, whether playing the radio or CDs.
The Kia Sedona is enjoyable to drive, with a terrific, tight, European-feeling independent suspension, using MacPherson struts in front and a multi-link system in the rear. The ride has a solid, steady, quality feel, no matter the road surface.
A 3.8-liter V6 powers the Sedona, a double overhead-cam engine with an aluminum block and head and variable valve timing. A pretty racy setup, in other words, producing 250 horsepower and 253 pound -feet of torque. A smooth five-speed automatic transmission is also standard, and features a manual mode called Sportmatic.
We drove a fully optioned EX for four days, from San Diego east into the desert, and back over remote winding roads. We left town with the Friday getaway crowd, going with the flow at 85 miles per hour, and the engine smoothly kept pace with the speedy Californians, just loping along at 2600 rpm while getting nearly 20 miles per gallon. The Sedona was stable in crosswinds at that speed, past the churning windmills near Palm Springs. We let it run up to 95 once, and it was steady, smooth and quiet.
Ample use of aluminum reduces weight in the Sedona, which improves handling, acceleration and fuel economy. But the Sedona is no lightweight, and it didn't always feel like it had 253 pound-feet of torque. The five-speed automatic transmission kicked down a lot under pressure, as, for example, when running up a long steep grade with the cruise control set at 79 miles per hour.
On the way back to the city the next day, over a twisty two-lane, the Sedona was impressive in the curves, with power rack-and-pinion steering. The Sedona surprised us here. We drove it with a lot more spirit than your average minivan pilot, and found the turn-in to be precise, with no false moves. The suspension kept pace with our cornering, allowing very little body lean. The only chink in Sedona's armor appeared when zooming over a rise in the road, beginning at maybe 45 miles per hour, as the front wheels wanted to hang. But when the Sedona settled, it stuck with no wallow. At the other end of the road, in the dips, it felt just fine.
We used the disc brakes hard and they felt as good as the suspension.
The Sportmatic manual mode in the transmission was a pleasure. We have the feeling that drivers designed the Sedona: Brits, in fact. We downshifted for corners and manually upshifted, and the transmission did exactly what we asked it to do, and rarely any more. The lever fit nicely in the heel of our hand.
The engine sometimes sounded a bit harsh under hard acceleration at low rpm, but now we're nitpicking, which is a compliment of sorts, because that's what happens with high-quality vehicles. At idle, it's so quiet that we once tried to start it when it was already running.
Kia Sedona is a great-looking minivan with a powerful V6 engine and a suspension that's second to none. The interior is well thought out, with seven-passenger seating but easily convertible to a carpeted cargo van. And there's an abundance of storage compartments. Sedona lacks nothing, except all-wheel drive.
NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent Sam Moses filed this report from San Diego, California.
Build and price your dream Kia Sedona in just a few easy steps.
|Build & Price|
2014 Kia Sedona$17,987 | 26,110 mi
2014 Kia Sedona$18,500 | 15,234 mi
2014 Kia Sedona$18,995 | 29,032 mi
2014 Kia Sedona$20,604 | 9,878 mi
2012 Kia Sedona$13,995 | 63,835 mi
2012 Kia Sedona$14,803 | 85,394 mi
2012 Kia Sedona$15,495 | 46,288 mi
2012 Kia Sedona$16,500 | 34,277 mi
2012 Kia Sedona$16,888 | 38,718 mi
2012 Kia Sedona$17,777 | 44,521 mi
2012 Kia Sedona$18,477 | 44,300 mi
2012 Kia Sedona$19,445 | 44,816 mi
2012 Kia Sedona$22,990 | 54,249 mi
2011 Kia Sedona$13,382 | 92,855 mi
2010 Kia Sedona$9,980 | 85,129 mi
2010 Kia Sedona$10,000 | 105,112 mi
2009 Kia Sedona$7,998 | 94,689 mi
2009 Kia Sedona$8,980 | 96,161 mi
2009 Kia Sedona$11,981 | 77,183 mi
2008 Kia Sedona$7,961 | 108,442 mi
2008 Kia Sedona$10,000 | 46,897 mi
2007 Kia Sedona$5,995 | 91,751 mi
2007 Kia Sedona$6,991 | 105,752 mi
2007 Kia Sedona$7,572 | 83,855 mi
2006 Kia Sedona$7,980 | 86,503 mi
2006 Kia Sedona$7,980 | 92,620 mi
2003 Kia Sedona$6,995 | 129,086 mi
2002 Kia Sedona$1,995 | 210,490 mi
We have information you must know before you buy the Sedona.
We want to send it to you, along with other pricing insights.
We will not spam you, and will never sell you email.