Tom Crosby: Kia’s new Sedona ups minivan wars

Tom Crosby

Minivans are the vehicle of choice for soccer moms or anyone having to transport five, six or even seven passengers on a regular basis.

Kia calls its all-new Sedona a CUV (crossover utility vehicle), others call it a MPV (multi-purpose vehicle) but anyone riding in it will call it a minivan.

Outside, Sedona’s profile challenges the staid minivan look with an aggressive snout, sculpted hood and headlight-to-headlight wide chrome grille below the Kia logo and above a fog-light bracketed air dam. The beltline is steady, providing excellent visibility for all occupants, roof bars sit on top and the rear lift gate opens automatically (three-second wait) below a roof spoiler.

There are five trims, LX and EX from the previous generation, and new this year L, SX and SX-Limited. We test drove the SXL outfitted with a $2,700 Technology Package adding safety features such as Lane Departure Warning, Smart Cruise Control and Forward Collision Warning.

The interior is luxurious and ergonomically effective with a flop down fish-eye mirror for watching interior antics, soft Nappa leather seat trim, plentiful cupholders and knick knack spaces, USB ports, three zone climate controls and an Infinity surround system. UVOe, Kia’s infotainment system, included navigation and back-up camera, voice recognition and a free smartphone app for loading free music apps, Siri and Yelp. It can even remember where you parked.

While not quick, we found the SXL possesses ample power with smooth transmission shifts, creating comfortable front seat riding but road reaction in rear seats, perhaps due to the 1.6 inches added to the wheelbase while the length was reduced .6 inches.

Handling was adequate when not driven like a performance sedan since it was designed to carry precious cargo, like children (who can use power sliding doors on both sides of the SXL). Lean was noticeable at higher speed in turns.

The interior is spacious and quiet with plush materials on the doors and an uncluttered dashboard. Driver seating was comfortable and the second row captain chairs manually recline, slide and have extenders that configure better than some limousines (a second row bench adds an eighth seating position).

Our rear seats tumbled easily into floor wells for extra cargo space. A neat feature was an automatic lifting of the tailgate after standing behind the car for three seconds. Kia believes the stiffer/stronger body will yield a top federal safety crash rating.

LIKES: Versatility, price, luxury, looks, quiet, visibility

DISLIKES: Riding in rear seats

BOTTOM LINE: Arguably one of the best looking minivans now with upgraded interior

Base price w/destination fee $40,595 ($43,295 as tested)
Vehicle curb weight 4,411 lbs.
Wheelbase 120.5 inches
Length 201.4 inches
Width 78.1 inches
Engine specs 3.3-liter, DOHC, 24-valve, V-6, GDI
Horsepower 276 hp at 6,000 rpm
Torque 248 ft.-lbs. at 5,200 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic w/Sportmatic
EPA Rating 17 mpg city and 22 mpg highway
Range 21.1-gallon tank, regular
Performance 0 to 60 in just under 8 seconds

Tom Crosby is a former journalist and communications director for AAA Carolinas. He has been reviewing cars since 1996, and has been active in traffic safety issues for more than 30 years.