If you have a family with more than two youngsters, chances are better than even that the best vehicle for you is not actually an SUV or a crossover, but a minivan. Sadly, despite the fact that minivans are among the most useful vehicles ever created, they just don’t have that cool image that even the hopelessly uncool among us strive for. That’s really a shame because the current generation of minivans including the 2015 Kia Sedona are really great vehicles.
Back in the mid-1990s when Kia was just getting launched in America under their own name, the original Sedona looked like a cheap seven-eighths scale knock-off of the original Ford Windstar. Like other Kias of that time it lived down to the brand’s cheap reputation.
The all-new third-generation Sedona arrived as a 2015 model and while no one will mistake it for anything but a minivan, this is to my eye the most handsome people mover currently available in the U.S. market. The Kia family grille gives the Sedona a surprisingly upmarket appearance, while the 19-inch alloys on the SX-L fill the wheel wells nicely and help to create the illusion that the Sedona is smaller than it really is.
The premium look continues in the cabin where the seats are covered in tan (officially camel) and brown leather. The top section of the steering wheel and the door inserts are trimmed in a wood veneer that is so dark, it’s barely distinguishable from the piano black on the instrument panel. The Sedona arrived in my driveway just ahead of the heaviest snowstorm so far this winter along with a nasty cold snap. Fortunately the first row seats and the steering wheel are thermally augmented to keep things comfortable.
Speaking of those seats, I’d like to see Kia stick them in the K900 in place of the overly wide flat thrones in the sedan. The Sedona seats were both comfortable and supportive with lateral bolsters that can restrain the driver in totally unminivan-like spirited driving. Lower trim Sedonas are available with either seven or eight passenger seating options. The SX-L is limited to seven passengers so-called “first-class lounge” seating in the second row. The lounge seats feature reclining backs and pop-up foot rests for those times when your passengers want to lay back and relax on a road trip.
For those with multiple kids to load into a vehicle, especially if they are in safety seats or boosters, a minivan with sliding doors is just so much more convenient to deal with, that I have to wonder why anyone in such a scenario would ever buy an SUV. The relatively low floor of a front wheel drive van and large apertures make buckling the little ones in a breeze.
A full suite of driver assist features help to keep the driver aware and reduce the workload, at least when the weather cooperates. Radar-based adaptive cruise control automatically maintains a safe following distance on the highway and runs all the way down to about 5 mph before disengaging. Ultrasonic sensors in the front and rear bumpers help when maneuvering in a parking lot and also detect pedestrians moving in close proximity.
Unfortunately, when the snow started coming down hard, the sensors also detected that causing a constant beeping that required disabling the park assist to eliminate. This is not an issue unique to the Sedona, many modern driver assist features either stop functioning or degrade severely in bad weather. Similarly, the cameras for the lane departure warning and backup assist are easily obscured by salt spray and snow.
Under the hood, all 2015 Sedonas are equipped with a 3.3-liter direct injected V6 rated at 276-horsepower and 248 lb.-ft. of torque. The smooth-running V6 paired with a six-speed automatic transmission are a more than capable combination in this big people mover. There is plenty of power and until the weather took a turn for the worse, the Sedona averaged about 19 mpg.
The suspension does a good job of soaking up the worst of what Michigan roads have to offer up this time of year without the somewhat mushy feeling the K900 exhibited. Of course when you get 14-inches of fresh snow overnight, anything short of a Jeep is going to struggle not to get stuck and the Sedona was no exception. Trying to get out of my street before the plow went through, required some extra help from a couple of neighbors.
Overall the Sedona is a very capable minivan, especially in SX-L form. While the base model starts at just over $26,000, all of the extra technology gear and leather add to a bottom line of $43,295 including delivery. That’s not cheap, but it’s actually a pretty decent value for everything you get. I’m no longer in the target market for the Sedona since my kids are grown and I don’t really have a use for such a large vehicle except on very rare occasions. However, if I was looking for a large people mover, I’d be taking a long, hard look at this Kia.