- A tastefully updated shape
- Quiet cabin
- Impressive infotainment
- New seat-folding arrangement
- Good interstate ride quality
- Gas mileage is just average
- A hefty van, even in base trim
- No all-wheel drive option
The 2015 Kia Sedona brings a stronger seating and infotainment game to the minivan niche, and almost closes the refinement gap in the process.
The Sedona returns for the 2015 model year with a raft of improvements: a better body structure, an upgraded powertrain, more safety and infotainment features, and a revamped seating system with more flexibility than prior versions have offered. The result: the Sedona puts itself much closer to the standard set by the Japanese-brand vans in refinement and functionality, while it outpaces the sunsetting Chryslers in quietness, if not in ultimate flexibility.
While automakers are rushing headlong into niches such as compact crossovers and coupe-like sedans, they're not exactly pushing for what's become more of a niche than it used to be: minivans. Over the past few years, the class has pretty much settled down to the big four sellers—Odyssey, Sienna, Town & Country, and Grand Caravan—and outliers like the Nissan Quest, Mazda 5, and Kia Sedona.
The Sedona takes no risks in styling. The front end is now cleaner, with a Kia family grille that fits well on the Sedona's big front end. There's no mistaking its minivan profile, but some of the size is disguised by the uptick in its shoulder line--the inverse of Honda's lowered "lightning bolt." The Sedona's cabin is downright charming, with its horizontally laid-out instrument panel, its two-tone looks, and the better materials applied to its surfaces.
Power comes from a 3.3-liter V-6 also found in the Cadenza and Sorento, both of which weigh considerably less than the Sedona. Power is adequate with two or three passengers aboard, and the 276-hp six runs very smoothly behind lots of layers of sound deadening. A six-speed automatic moves power to the front wheels only (only the Sienna now offers all-wheel drive). Electric power steering is quick and well tuned, but it's only offered on the top trim level; we haven't sampled lower-line Sedonas. Ride quality is very smartly upgraded compared to the previous Kia van, but when it's pressed it can't hide any of its considerable weight of at least 4,414 pounds.
Kia has grown the Sedona so it's sized more like the top sellers. It's somewhat shy on flexibility and ultimate interior space, but it's close enough to be a good substitute. A Honda Odyssey has more cubic feet of passenger space, but it's arguable whether the Kia or the Honda has more comfortable front seats. The Sedona doesn't offer stow-away second-row seats like the Chryslers, but it has a new sliding seat system that moves the middle row into a compact space, freeing up lots of storage capacity. On the most expensive model, it swaps those for a pair of airline-style lounge chairs with excellent comfort--the future airport or adult-living shuttle. As for the third row, it's somewhat smaller but is split 60/40 and folds flat right into the floor.
The 2015 Kia Sedona is built on entirely new underpinnings, but a full round of top-tier crash-test ratings are already assuring that they're a big improvement over the former version as well as many other vans on the market. Kia uses more high-strength steel and includes free Bluetooth on all models, but a rearview camera isn't offered on the base vehicle--and surround-view cameras, which we love, are limited to the most expensive model only.
Other features include a smart tailgate that opens the hatch when the keyfob is detected in close proximity for three seconds, and a dual-compartment glovebox that features a lower cooled area. The next-generation UVO infotainment system includes app capability from iTunes and Google Play (including compatibility with Pandora, iHeartRadio, and Yelp) plus SiriusXM Travel Link information on traffic weather, fuel prices, and more. It also uses new Siri Eyes Free connectivity and Google Local Search systems to help find (and navigate to points of interest). The Sedona gets Kia's first high-power USB charging port, and there's a 115-volt AC outlet on some trims, too--a combo that all but obviates the need for a factory-installed rear-seat entertainment system.
As is the case with the Odyssey and Sienna, many of the most desirable features are bundled into the top trim level, which costs more than $40,000. Base versions start at about $26,000, but we think the sweet spot is the $32,995 Sedona EX, which comes with power sliding side doors and a power tailgate; eight-passenger seating; pushbutton start; and leather seats.