SEDONA, Ariz. -- Towering sandstone spires and rust-red buttes surround the mile-high community of Sedona, which draws sightseers year-round to hike the mysterious canyons of ancient Anasazi people or shop for art and souvenirs in galleries lining Sedona's main drag of Arizona 89A.
For a recent motoring cruise along the 89A through Sedona, we're steering -- ironically -- the 2017 Sedona, a large and comfortable 7-to-8-passenger minivan from South Korea's automaker Kia that bears the nameplate of Arizona's red-rock mountain resort.
Sedona the minivan for 2017 represents the third generation of designs which trace back to the first edition which landed in North America as a 2002 model and mirrored class leaders with a 4-door unibody structure, feature-filled passenger compartment with three rows of seats for seven or eight, and a competent V6 powertrain.
The Gen-3 Sedona debuted in 2015 with a stretched wheelbase length which increased legroom for riders on second- and third-row seats.
The 2017 editions bring enhancements including upgraded HID headlights with dynamic bending keyed to the steering wheel's movement, updated UVO e-Services infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the optional Technology Package with new Advanced Driver Assisted System features such as Autonomous Emergency Braking.
Kia constructs the 2017 Sedona minivan in five content versions, labeled L, LX, EX, SX, and SX-Limited, with additional equipment clustered in add-on packages: Premium Package, Premium Plus Package, Technology Package and 8-Passenger Package.
All trim versions stock Kia's powerful Lambda gasoline direct injection V6 engine which produces high power and torque numbers. The 3.3-liter V6 has an aluminum block and aluminum cylinder heads, dual overhead cams and dual continuously variable valve timing for high-tech metering of the fuel burn.
The Lambda V6 produces 276 hp at 6000 rpm plus 248 lb-ft of torque at 5200 rpm operating with regular unleaded (87 Octane) fuel and links exclusively to Kia's electronically controlled 6-speed Sportmatic automatic transaxle with shift control via a console-mounted shift lever.
EPA-estimated fuel economy scores for the 2017 Sedona tally to 18 mpg for city driving and 24 mpg on the highway.
Sedona's entirely independent includes front MacPherson struts with amplitude selected dampers and a rear multi-link arrangement with coil springs. Tuning of the suspension feels firm and a stabilizer bar added in front helps to check excessive body roll when steering the minivan along a twisty route.
For active safety, every issue posts a disc brake at each wheel, with electronic linkage to a 4-channel anti-lock brake system with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist system. The two top trim tiers gain a vehicle stability management device to coordinate the electronic stability control system, traction control system and motor-driven electric power steering system.
Sedona's spacious cabin provides seats for seven or eight passengers, depending on the configuration of second-row seats -- 2 buckets or a 3-seat bench.
Two tall captain's chairs on the front row clad in beautiful fabric or soft leather. The standard driver's bucket comes with 8-way adjustments plus 2-way lumbar support, as the passenger's seat gets 8-way controls with trim upgrades.
Sedona's second row also holds two captain's chairs or an optional 3-person bench. The Slide-N-Stow tracked seating slides forward and folds upright to make more floor space for a load of cargo. And top-tier Sedona SK-L lists the option of "First Class" second-row lounge seats -- with reclining seatbacks, airplane-style winged headrests, and extending footrests.
The back row bench has room for three with seatback split 60/40 percent. Also, the seat folds up entirely in several simple motions and slips into a below-deck recess, leaving a flat floor in the cargo bay.
With all seats in place, Sedona's rear cargo area contains 33.9 cubic feet -- about twice the trunk space of a full-size sedan. With second-row buckets folded forward and the back-row bench tucked into the floor, the cargo bay becomes downright cavernous at 142 cubic feet.
Kia's MSRP chart for the 2017 Sedona extends from $26,900 to $41,900.