2015 Kia Sedona SX Long Term Introduction
Minivans are indisputably useful vehicles. In fact, they are the perfect solution to most automotive conundrums. There's virtually nothing else that combines the ability to carry so many people and so much cargo in such a comfortable, quiet, and easy-to-drive vehicle. They're even fuel efficient, at least compared to full-size SUVs. Sure, the minivan's heyday is well behind it now, but minivan owners -- such as yours truly -- know that when it comes right down to it, there's little out there that matches the flexibility and usefulness of a minivan.
The only real downside to minivans is that we didn't have one in our long-term fleet. Along comes this 2015 Kia Sedona SX to the rescue. Kia has been in the minivan game for more than a decade now, but as a low-price leader, trailing the three heavy hitters of the segment: the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna and Chrysler Town & Country/Dodge Grand Caravan twins. But this year, the third-generation 2015 Sedona makes a serious play for those big boys.
Packed with features
Like the newest models of its Sorento, Soul, and the just-introduced Optima, the new 2015 Kia Sedona pulls no punches. Under the hood is a 3.3-liter V6 engine that channels its 276-horsepower to the front wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission. In our near-top-line SX model, that's good for an EPA-estimated 18 mpg in the city, and 25 mpg on the highway. Our 2015 Kia Sedona SX was delivered in a color called "Black Berry Red," which is interesting because the only red on Kia's consumer website is called "Venetian Red"; we'll chalk it up to a late-game name change somewhere along the line. Regardless, it also comes with leather seats (heated and ventilated in front, and heated on the outboard second-row), navigation, Kia's UVO infotainment system, three-zone automatic climate control, an Infinity surround sound audio system, push-button smart and keyless entry, and the usual minivan staples of power dual-sliding doors and a power liftgate. The price for all that comes to $37,585, including the $895 destination charge. The only option is the $400 removable jump seat that fits between the outboard second-row seats, expanding the Sedona's passenger capacity to eight.
What are we looking for in this minivan? During our Best Family Car shootout earlier this year, the Kia Sedona gave the winning Honda Odyssey a solid run for its money. While it offered more refinement, we felt it came up short in the core virtues of family flexibility. It's slightly smaller, with a slightly tighter interior. The front seat layout eschews any floor storage for a more SUV-like cockpit; it looks good, but the lack of floor space between the dash and center console means less room for a bag or purse. The cargo area isn't quite as big as it is in the Odyssey, and the center-row seats don't remove completely, although they do compress nicely against the front seats. The Sedona also lacks a factory-installed rear entertainment system although a dealer-installed version that sits behind the front center armrest is available. In a more general sense, big open -box structures like minivans tend to loosen up considerably over time, becoming a haven for squeaks and rattles; we're curious to see if that happens with this tightly built van as well.
Great for road trips
Whether any of this will matter in the long run is, well, one of the reasons why we're going to keep it for a year, and so far, it hasn't. Barely a month into our possession and this van has already racked up more than 2,000 miles around town, and even on a quick road trip from Los Angeles to Santa Maria and back. It's quickly acquitting itself as a comfortable, reasonably fuel efficient, and exceptionally quiet (for a van) road tripper. The fold-slide mechanism definitely makes getting into the third row easier, but of course younger kids still think mountaineering the second-row seatbacks is more fun. The third row folds quickly enough, and we already appreciate the seating and cargo flexibility this van offers. Our long-term 2015 Kia Sedona is definitely making a good first impression; come back each month as we discover whether it's a lasting one.