New & Used Kia Sedona: In Depth
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The Kia Sedona is one of the handful of minivans still on sale in the U.S. It's also in the midst of a major model change--for the 2015 model year, the Sedona's being completely reworked, with a new sliding-seat system and a stiffer, safer body.
The Sedona is built in South Korea and sold as the Carnival in other world markets. In the U.S., its rivals include the Toyota Sienna, Nissan Quest, Honda Odyssey, Chrysler Town & Country, and the Dodge Grand Caravan, which goes away after the current model year.
MORE: Read our 2015 Kia Sedona preview
The first-generation Sedona went on sale 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--and the first Sedona was a heavy vehicle, so performance suffered and fuel economy was poor.
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 has since dropped the short-wheelbase Dodge Caravan). That version was dropped after the 2008 model year.
Performance is improved, but the features included in the Sedona still fall short of those in other minivans. The Sedona carries seven passengers, but there's no clever fold-away seat option like that in the Chrysler minivans or in the Nissan Quest. The third-row seat does fold flat into the rear cargo area, however. Interior trim is better than in prior versions, and the Sedona also now offers 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) are all standard on the Sedona, and its performance in NHTSA and IIHS crash tests has been acceptable, though it doesn't score well in the latest roof-crush tests. Also standard is a backup warning system, though outward visibility is 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 the 2013 model year, 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 improved infotainment system. Its looks are now thoroughly modern, even somewhat attractive for a minivan.
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 floor without the need to remove the seats. An alternate arrangement allows for "first-class" lounge seating with retractable lower leg rests. As for the third row, it's somewhat smaller but is split 60/40 and folds flat right into the floor.
Kia's latest UVO infotainment system allows drivers to use their phone's data to power navigation and other information services in the car, and to connect to streaming-audio apps like Pandora. A traditional rear-seat entertainment system is available, as are power sliding side doors, and a power tailgate that opens itself when the key is held close by for a few seconds.
Fuel economy ranges slightly 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.