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Is the all-new 2015 Kia Sedona a new try on a vehicle format that's gone out of fashion, or is it a fresh, sensible way to carry people and gear in comfort, without the baggage of the faux-rugged cues and wasteful image of an SUV?
Minivans, like this Sedona first introduced at April's New York Auto Show and due to go on sale this fall, used to be the bread and butter of American familiar. But ask today's moms and dads, and you're likely to get answers to the above question that are as polarizing as those on politics. If you don't believe us, go ahead and ask a few friends.
The Sedona, however, doesn't appear to take a lot of risks. It latches onto an existing format, and cribs from Kia's now well-established design suite. There's a clean front-end appearance and somewhat more upright version of the familiar Kia grille, with swept-back headlamps and LED running lamps. The profile is unmistakably that of a minivan—with practicality trumping any motion to innovate—but it's handsome in the way a solid beltline continues back all the way from headlights to taillamps. Also of note is how the windowline steps a notch up (rather than down, as in the Honda Odyssey) just ahead of the third row. From the back, the new Sedona clearly resembles the latest version of the Sorento crossover—only with its rear pillars hidden away, fashionably, beneath wrap-around glass, and its rear bumper height a several inches lower (for easier loading).
Inside, the Sedona gets updated to a new visually charming, horizontally laid-out instrument panel, along with a two-tone look and glossy piano-black trim. New soft-touch materials take to the upper portion of the dash and door trim, and there's a level of fine detail and better materials from Kia's recent products like the Cadenza and K900 sedans that extends here and looks like it will really raise the ambiance.
The 2015 Kia Sedona should move quite confidently with the same 3.3-liter 'Lambda' direct-injection gasoline V-6 engine that powers Kia's Sorento crossover and Cadenza sedan. It makes 276 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque, and has continuously variable valve timing plus a three-step variable induction system. Power is delivered to the front wheels through via a six-speed automatic transmission. All versions will have electric power steering, while brakes have ventilated discs in front, solid discs in back.
The wheelbase of the Sedona is up nearly a couple of inches compared to the previous version, but in overall length and cabin dimensions it's now within a few inches in overall length of its chief rivals like the Honda Odyssey, Dodge Grand Caravan, Toyota Sienna, and Nissan Quest. There's seating for up to eight, as well the kind of versatility that always seems to be at its best in minivans. Kia has raised the seating position of the driver's seat somewhat for better visibility. There's a front center console with several usable storage places. Meanwhile, the second row has a Slide-n-Stow arrangement that can slide forward and flip upright to allow an especially low, level floor without the need to remove the seats. One option for the second row is a so-called '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.
In outgoing versions of the Sedona, refinement was somewhat behind the curve; Kia now describes the Sedona as the quietest in its segment, with all sorts of new measures like wheel-house padding, double-sealed sliding doors, and new engine-compartment sound deadening. Ride quality should be considerably better thanks to new rear cross-member bushings and an isolated rear subframe with longer trailing arms. Base models will include 17-inch steel wheels, while alloy wheels in 17-, 18-, and 19-inch sizes are available in higher trim levels.
The 2015 Kia Sedona is built on entirely new underpinnings, and Kia boasts that its new structure, with 76 percent Ultra High Strength or High Strength Steel, provides safety benefits. The automaker anticipates NHTSA (federal) five-star safety ratrings. Brake Assist and Hill-Start Assist are included as standard, as is Cornering Brake Control and Roll Over Mitigation. A Surround View Monitor offers images from multiple cameras, while a Smart Welcome feature will illuminate door handles and unfold mirrors on approach.
Count on minivans to debut some practical yet cool features—and here the Sedona is no exception. There's also a Smart Tailgate that opens the hatch when the keyfob is detected in close proximity for three seconds. A dual-compartment glovebox that features a lower cooled area; and the Sedona gets Kia's first high-power USB charging port, and there's a 115-volt AC outlet.
Kia hasn't released specs or pricing for the 2015 Sedona yet, but we're anticipating that there will be several trims ranging up to a top SX-L model that will offer plush Nappa leather upholstery. 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 will be Kia's first model to offer Geo-fencing, Speed Alert, Curfew Alert, and Driving Score—all features that look like they could come in handy in keeping tabs on your teen driver. Not that he or she will be particularly thrilled to be driving around in an empty minivan...
- A familiar shape, updated with the times
- Touted cabin quiet, ride comfort
- Impressive infotainment
- New seat-folding arrangement
- Too long and large for some families
- No hybrid or fuel-efficient model
- No all-wheel drive option