2015 Kia Sedona Long-Term Update: Powertrain
We've had our long-term 2015 Kia Sedona SX for about seven months now, and have racked up a fairly impressive 7,000 miles so far. And while we've had our share of ups and -- well, come to think of it, just ups so far -- one of the clearest strong points for the Sedona minivan is its excellent 3.3-liter V6 engine and 6-speed automatic transmission.
The engine is a known quantity in larger Kia models, with the same basic setup also available in the Kia Sorento midsize SUV and Cadenza sedan, albeit with some differences in horsepower. The version in our Sedona puts out 276 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque, making it second only to the Dodge Grand Caravan in horsepower. With a push of the starter button it leaps to life, settles quickly into a smooth idle, and after more than 7,000 miles, we've come to appreciate its good throttle response, both off-the-line from stops and when passing slower traffic.
The 6-speed automatic is largely invisible in its operation, and we haven't noticed any particular hesitation, hunting, or other common transmission ailments when it's left on its own. About the only downside we've felt in the transmission's operation is some hesitancy to shift when in its manual mode. However, we'd also point out that with the exception of maybe using a lower gear to slow the Sedona on a long downhill grade, we haven't really used the manual function very much at all.
Our Kia Sedona also came with a drive mode system, which allows the driver to toggle between normal, Comfort and Eco modes. The Eco is the only one that makes a notable difference -- we have yet to feel anything different in Comfort -- and that's mostly in throttle response. It basically makes the gas pedal feel a little "lazy," with a bit more pressure needed to spur the Sedona into action. The idea is to make it easier to save gas by reducing throttle sensitivity, but we haven't seen a notable improvement.
In fact, fuel economy is one of the shortcomings of this powertrain in general. While driving habits have a big impact on fuel economy, our Sedona has hovered around 17 mpg most of the time. That's not particularly great, especially when you consider that Honda Odyssey we've driven under similar circumstances sees numbers in the 20-mpg range. Even Kia notes this in its specs, giving different models different fuel economy numbers. The L, LX and EX models get city/highway/combined numbers of 18/24/20 mpg, while the top-line SX-L gets 17/22/19 mpg. For the SX, the EPA estimates a split of 18/25/21, the best possible. Whether it's our lead feet or some other factor, we're off the mark no matter how you cut it. We'll have to see how the remaining few months go, and if things even out.
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