Clean, lean and crisp are not typical words used in describing a minivan. But Kia seems to be trying just a little harder to stand out with its re-engineered 2015 Sedona.
This is the third generation of Sedona and, my, it has come a long way. It was coarse, underpowered and clunky on its debut in 1998, but Kia quickly smoothed the rough edges and now it has a technologically advanced and sophisticated front-wheel-drive minivan. However, the company resists using the “M” word and refers to the Sedona a midsize multipurpose vehicle with CUV styling.
The new model has more power than last year’s Sedona, a longer wheelbase for improved legroom and an option for first-class second-row seats. Second row Slide-N-Stow seats slide and fold upright for on-the-go cargo hauling.
Sedona is sold in five trim levels, with seating for seven or eight, and one powertrain choice of a 276-horsepower, direct-injection 3.3-liter V-6 and a six-speed automatic transmission. Starting prices range from $26,995 to $40,595, including the $895 freight charge from Korea. Today’s test car is the top-line SXL, which had an as-tested price of $43,295. Its factory option was the SXL Technology package, $2,700, which added Xenon HID headlights, lane departure warning system, forward collision warning, surround-view monitor and smart cruise control. Those are all worthwhile extras for the busy life of a minivan pilot and families with teens of driving age.
The styling is progressive and lean. The interior is neatly assembled with quality-appearing materials and plastics in warm hues and pleasing textures. It is a cohesive design statement and the tester’s $43,000 sticker included entry-luxury features and finish. All of the minivan goodies are present, such as dual power sliding doors, a power tailgate, privacy glass, the UVO infotainment system with navigation system and a rearview camera. There is no shortage of cup holders and the dual glove boxes are just two among a plethora of storage areas.
Friends may grimace at your offer to drive to lunch, but they won’t complain about the accommodations. The Nappa leather upgrade of the SXL is soft and fragrant. The heated and cooled front seats are more like sport buckets with more bolstering and padding than those in a stock Corvette.
Minivans are wide and roomy with just enough ride height for good views. Sightlines are generally good, but I always checked twice at the corners of the stretched out windshield, which can obscure pedestrians in crosswalks. Headroom is, of course, good and with the dual sunroof, which is unique in that the second panel opens, while most are fixed panes.
The first class lounge seats in the second row have retractable leg rests and airplane-style winged headrests. These seats are better than most first-class seats in an airliner and they can slide back for looong legroom (if nobody is in the third row). And for more cargo configuration, the third row has split folding 60/40 in-floor-retractable design.
Drivability is quite comfortable with decent power, but the grunt of the V-6 — 248 foot-pounds of torque — peaks fairly high at 5,200 rpm. That’s good for maximizing fuel economy, but not for double-downshift passing power. Fuel economy ratings are 17 mpg city, 22 highway and 19 mpg combined, on 87 octane. I was averaging 22 and into the low 23 mpgs. A 21.1-gallon tank allows a good cruising range.
With a small turning circle of 36.8 feet, maneuvering the mall parking lot is no issue. The surround-view camera upgrade is excellent because it gives a front view, overhead view and, in reverse, the back-up view.
The variety of seat configurations is good, but I found the mechanisms stiff for the second-row tilt and slide. And while the third row seats fold with easy leverage, there needs to be flaps to cover the hardware brackets that are exposed on the cargo floor. The Toyota Sienna has a similar style of folding seat and it has folding flaps to smooth the floor for loading and unloading.
The term “minivan” does have harsh connotations, but this one’s very well done for those who will swallow their pride and embrace the ride.
Mark Maynard is online at email@example.com. Find photo galleries and more news at Facebook.com/MaynardsGarage