You can debate all day whether you like or do not like minivans- whether they are uncool, stodgy, domestic-feeling, or just functional. The truth is, no matter how popular an SUV, a CUV, or any other category vehicle becomes, there is nothing in the world that can move more people/cargo with better efficiency than a minivan. Fortunately, the American family can still buy a good minivan at a reasonable price. Even better, KIA has stepped up their game in this market. The 2015 KIA Sedona is an all-new and much improved Sedona with nice styling, surprising performance, higher quality materials, and a touch of luxury thrown in for good measure.
We had a top-of-the-line 2015 Sedona SX-Limited van to use during the weekend of my son's wedding. It could not have worked out better for our family of 80+ people traveling from Los Angeles airports to the Mojave High Desert. Families were arriving from everywhere and all came 80 miles over the mountains in January on a rainy weekend with winds whipping through the passes and canyons. The Sedona moved people, luggage, and lots of wedding reception decorations with ease.
The new rear suspension with active dampers absorbed the weight and the rough freeways with control and comfort. The 2015 Sedona is built on an all-new chassis with a very stiff platform (torsional stiffness is reported to be 36-percent stronger than Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna). KIA has added high strength steel and "Press Hardened Steel" throughout the platform and roof section for a very solid feeling van. The manufacturing plant in West Point, Georgia now uses bonding adhesives and larger diameter welds to add to the overall structural integrity. Compared to the last generation Sedona, KIA took and expensive and important step in build quality here.
This frees KIA to use more tuned and compliant springs and linkage. I like the way the Sedona rounds a corner and corrects the rear track into a straight line without any electronic wizardry. There is very little body-roll when cornering this large vehicle. The performance handling is still that of a minivan, but the wind and freeway survival maneuvers were handled very well, even with a full load of adults. The new platform also uses firmer rear cross-member bushings, an isolated rear sub-frame, and better rear struts which means a better drive.
The displacement of the Lambda Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) 3.3-liter V6 engine actually reduces from the previous 3.5-liter V6. This newer 3.3-liter engine produces 276 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 248 lb.-ft. at 5,200 rpm foot-pounds of torque. It is helpful when most of the power engages at 2500-3000 rpm which is when a minivan needs it most to move into traffic or up a hill. Having driven this same engine in the new Cadenza and the 2016 Sorento CUV, KIA should lower the exhaust note just a little to silence the whine at higher RPMs. The revised six-speed automatic transmission worked flawlessly. The manual override is also appreciated with traveling down long mountain grades with a load.
Now, let us get inside this new Sedona where life can be so comfortable. The driver's seat for my back and backside was very comfortable and supportive. In fact, all seven seats were comfortable enough for a long road trip- with adults. The middle bucket seats (captain's chairs) can move front to back, side to side, and even recline with a foot rest. They can even fold upright moving all the way against the front seats for easy access to the third row or maximize the cargo floor. Brilliant! KIA calls this a Slide-N-Stow tracked seating for upright “on-the-go” cargo hauling, eliminating the removal of seats. These seats take two hands and some strength to move but offer real flexibility. The third bench seat is split and folds into the floor.
Our premium SX-Limited comes with soft Nappa leather trimmed seats and other creature-comfort surfaces. This is the same leather found in KIA’s flagship luxury K900 sedan and it is free from the bad stuff called Chromium (whatever that is). The designers have also used a two-tone color scheme that works quite well. Everywhere one looks inside the Sedona one finds a cup holder, a 12-volt power-point plug, or a storage cubby. My brother thought the interior to be a little too much plastic but KIA has done a good job of keeping the price and weight down for better fuel economy and finishing most surfaces.
EPA estimates for the 2015 KIA Sedona are 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the open road. After a few days of use, the Sedona performed as expected and could sip fuel even more efficiently on the highway with some driver assistance- bring mileage up to the high 20's. The 3.3 liter V6 runs on regular gas.
The wheelbase is 1.6-inches longer than the last model while overall length remains the same. The swept windshield, standard roof spoiler, and available 19-inch alloy wheels create a sportier look. The rear hatch and bumper design with LED taillights looks more elegant.
Safety features are plentiful. The list reads like most modern cars and vans over $35,000 with electronic safety systems. All Sedona models come standard with active safety features such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control System (TCS), Brake Assist System (BAS), Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) and Antilock Braking System (ABS).
KIA has wisely included a Roll Over Mitigation (ROM) program in case of a, well, roll-over. If drivers get too aggressive in the corners, the van will correct itself with a Cornering Brake Control (CBC) which brakes wheels independently to straighten the van. One can also opt for a Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), Forward Collision Warning System (FCWS), Smart Cruise Control (SCC), Blind Spot Detection (BSD), and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
Back inside, KIA has loaded the SX-Limited Sedona with next-generation UVO system which connects it to a smartphone for information and emergency calls, and other features including games?! KIA has even introduced the KIA App Store with free downloads from iTunes® or Google Play. The KIA app connector is now available for partnerships with the content community, including Pandora®, iHeart Radio and Yelp®. The newest UVO system (powered by Google) is intuitive and pretty good at finding locations, addresses and points of interest. Sirius XM Travel Link offers access to traffic, weather, fuel prices, sports scores, stock information and movie times. The interface is still a little too complicated for my taste but one can learn the UVO system with some practice.
Pricing for a base model KIA Sedona L starts at $25,900 which includes a lot of features and the same great powertrain. The standard fabrics seats are stain-resistant and equally comfortable. The Sedona also comes in SX, SX Limited, LX and EX trims. There is seven- or eight-passenger seating. $28,100 will get the consumer an LX and $32,100 will bag a Sedona EX. The SX model begins at $36,100 and our test model began at $39,700 for the SX Limited. Compared to Honda, Toyota, and Chrysler, the Sedona remains a value bargain.
As readers can tell, I like minivans. They are comfortable, capable, and very functional. They handle large families and projects with ease, and now, most minivans can even handle the road well. The all-new 2015 KIA Sedona is a top pick in this category.