New & Used Kia Sedona: In Depth
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The Kia Sedona is built in South Korea and sold as the Carnival in other markets around the world. After taking a brief hiatus and returning mostly unchanged in 2014, the Sedona was given a major rework for 2015. Changes included a new body most noticeably, as well as an updated interior, modern tech features, and a new sliding-seat system. The 2016 model Sedona only adds features, including a standard rearview camera.
The Sedona competes with only a handful of true minivans on sale in the U.S. Its rivals include the Toyota Sienna, Nissan Quest, Honda Odyssey, Chrysler Town & Country, and Dodge Grand Caravan.
MORE: Read our 2016 Kia Sedona review
The first-generation Sedona went on sale here as a 2002 model and ran through the 2005 model year. Its 3.5-liter V-6 made 195 horsepower and was teamed to a four-speed automatic. It lacked features found on competitive minivans, like power-sliding side doors, curtain airbags, a navigation system, and a fold-flat third-row seat. That first Sedona was also a heavy vehicle, so performance and fuel economy both suffered compared to the segment leaders.
The second-generation Sedona arrived as a 2006 model, much improved. The powertrain was updated to 3.8 liters of displacement and 244 horsepower, teamed with a five-speed automatic with manual gear selection. Fuel economy improved to 17/24 mpg, a competitive figure. In 2007, Kia added a short-wheelbase version, making the Sedona the only two-body-style minivan left in the American market (since Chrysler had since dropped the short-wheelbase Dodge Caravan). That version was dropped after the 2008 model year.
Performance improved, but the features included in the Sedona still fell short of those in other minivans. The Sedona carried seven passengers, but there was no clever fold-away seat option like that in the Chrysler minivans or in the Nissan Quest. The third-row seat did fold flat into the rear cargo area, however. Interior trim was better than in prior versions, and the Sedona also added USB audio inputs, a navigation system, and a DVD entertainment system.
Anti-lock brakes, as well as stability and traction control, plus front, side, and side curtain airbags (that cover all three rows of seats) were all standard on this Sedona, and its performance in NHTSA and IIHS crash tests was acceptable, though it didn't score well in the latest roof-crush tests. Also standard was a backup warning system, although outward visibility was already quite good.
Spruced up in the 2011 model year with a new face and a revised powertrain, the Sedona soldiered on with its 3.5-liter V-6 with 271 horsepower, paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The Sedona was carried over with only minor changes in the 2012 model year, while it skipped 2013 and returned for a short 2014 model year with only minor changes.
The new Kia Sedona
For 2015, the Sedona has been revamped with a new body structure, a new interior, a new sliding-seat system, and a thoroughly enhanced infotainment system. Its looks are now thoroughly modern as well, even somewhat attractive for a minivan. The result is a much-improved family-hauling package, and definitely Kia's best attempt at a minivan yet, but not one that meets or beats the current segment leaders.
While the body is new, the mechanicals are mostly carry-over items. A familiar corporate 3.3-liter V-6 sits up front and is paired with a six-speed automatic. They're packed into a stronger body shell that stretches a little longer than the outgoing model, although it still doesn't match competitors like the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey in overall size.
There's seating for as many as eight passengers inside the Sedona. The key new feature for the Sedona could be its "Slide-n-Stow" second-row seat. It can slide forward and flip upright to allow an especially low, level load floor without the need to remove the seats. An alternate arrangement allows for "first-class" lounge seating with retractable lower leg rests, similar to what is available in the Toyota Sienna. As for the third row, it's somewhat smaller but is split 60/40 and folds flat right into a well in the floor.
The latest version of Kia's UVO infotainment system is offered in the new Sedona, allowing pairing of a smartphone to the system so the data connection can be used for vehicle services. It can stream audio from smartphone apps like Pandora to the car's head unit. As this is a minivan, a rear-seat entertainment system is available, and the Sedona offers the requisite electrified goodies like power sliding side doors and a hatch that auto opens when the key is nearby (presumably in your pocket) for a few seconds.
Fuel economy ranges from 19 to 21 mpg combined for all versions of the new Sedona; prices begin at about $26,000, and rise to more than $37,000 for well-trimmed models.