2009 Kia Sedona Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
July 4, 2009

Of the available minivans, the 2009 Kia Sedona is one of the most affordable, but it doesn't skimp on what counts for families.

TheCarConnection.com has driven the Kia Sedona, along with other minivans, to bring you firsthand driving observations and an assessment of its safety, features, and value. TheCarConnection.com also researched reviews relevant to the 2009 Kia Sedona and included highlights that will best help shoppers looking for a good family vehicle.

Kia is one of a few manufacturers still producing both short- and long-wheelbase versions of the same van (as of 2008, Chrysler dropped its short-wheelbase models). Curiously, Kia's partner company internationally, Hyundai, offers only the long-wheelbase model in its Entourage lineup.

All model Sedonas—including Base, LX, and EX—are powered by the same 3.8-liter V-6 engine found in Kia’s luxury sedan, the Amanti. The engine produces 250 horsepower, which makes it at least competitive with every other minivan. The transmission is a five-speed automatic. Economy ratings are similar to those of other minivans at 16 mpg city, 23 highway.

Chrysler leads the minivan world in terms of features. Kia does not offer anything quite like Chrysler's Stow 'n Go seats, but the standard seating for seven works just fine as is. If you need maximum cargo room, the second row of seats is removable, but it's heavy. Compared to the Town & Country or Dodge Grand Caravan, the 2009 Kia Sedona feels like it's a generation behind.

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Detailing is minimal in the styling of the 2009 Kia Sedona, making it a plain but well-proportioned vehicle. Inside, the Sedona is well-equipped and just as straightforward in terms of style and function. Passenger room is identical for all long-wheelbase models. The added wheelbase increases cargo volume from 12.9 cubic feet behind the third-row seat to 33.2 cubic feet. This is a significant difference that will matter to some families. However, if you put the third row into service only rarely, then you may do just fine with the short-wheelbase 2009 Sedona base model. Additionally if you're looking at the SWB Sedona, you should be aware it has a less-useful seating arrangement that requires removing, rather than folding, the third row to get a flat cargo floor.

The short-wheelbase Sedona model zips along impressively on the road. It feels quite maneuverable due to its light weight, tight turning radius, and an even slightly faster steering ratio. Competitors such as the Mazda5 and Honda Odyssey corner flatter and have more feel through the steering wheel. These vans are also more refined, but if you're going for value, it's OK to give up some refinement.

Typical for Kia, the Sedona is equipped with important safety equipment, yet priced toward the low end of its competitive set. When it comes to safety, the 2009 Kia Sedona includes anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, plus front, side, and side curtain airbags (that cover all three rows of seats). Performance in government and IIHS crash tests is excellent.

For 2009 a few new garnishes are added to the Sedona’s feature list, including Sirius Satellite Radio capability and MP3-USB connectivity, standard on all trim levels (the EX receives three months of complimentary service and an optional navigation system). There’s little to choose from in available options. Generally, customers decide between the three models, Base, LX, or EX, and take what they offer. Only a handful of options (such as a DVD entertainment system, heated front seats, and so on) are available, but this helps keep the Sedona simple to build, which in turn maintains the low price.

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2009 Kia Sedona

Styling

The style of the 2009 Kia Sedona minivan is plain, but the minivan is well proportioned.

Reviewers generally approve of the 2009 Kia Sedona’s styling. The 2009 Kia Sedona does a reasonably stylish job of looking like a minivan. Detailing is minimal.

A test driver at Mother Proof comments that the Kia Sedona "lured me with its cute looks...it seemed more stylish and better-looking than other minivans." MyRide.com has this to say: "the [Kia] Sedona looks classy and stylish...if the 2009 Kia Sedona's styling isn't unique, it is clean and crisp, and classy." Kelley Blue Book agrees—at least on the idea that the Kia Sedona's styling isn't original, remarking, "Except for its vertical taillamps, the 2009 Kia Sedona doesn't carry itself much differently than a Toyota Sienna, which wouldn't be impossible to mistake for a Honda Odyssey."

The interior styling of the 2009 Kia Sedona is straightforward and functional. Car and Driver notes that "some of the interior trim is cheap-looking," while Kelley Blue Book observes that the Kia Sedona 2009 has "wood-look trim that's reminiscent of wood-paneled wagons and dens from the Brady Bunch era." And although ConsumerGuide says all controls in the cockpit "are within easy reach, are nicely sized, and are clearly marked," J.D. Power proclaims, "If there's evidence showing how Kia is able to undercut Honda and Toyota on price, the interior is where you’ll find it."

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2009 Kia Sedona

Performance

The 2009 Kia Sedona performs well for a minivan, even if it isn't at the head of the pack.

Reviewers agree that Sedona’s engine provides competitive acceleration. Motor Trend notes that "acceleration proved to be enough to give it a fighting chance in cutthroat Los Angeles traffic, making it a sleeper of sorts...passing nimbler sedans or meaner-looking SUVs made driving a minivan easier on the ego." According to Cars.com, "the 2009 Kia Sedona's 3.8-liter V-6 develops 250 hp and 253 pounds-feet of torque." J.D. Power reports that "the Kia Sedona responds to the accelerator with enthusiasm.”

J.D. Power also advises that the Sedona "is geared for rapid acceleration if the driver pushes down on the pedal with authority, or it smoothly upshifts at low rpm when moving along in a leisurely fashion." Car and Driver attests that "the transmission shifts almost imperceptibly," but ConsumerGuide says "the automatic transmission [was] very slow to kick down."

The EPA rates the Sedona at 16/23 mpg. According to Motor Trend, the Sedona’s fuel economy figures average "17.9 mph for the life of the car and frequently noted as impressive on long road trips.” ConsumerGuide cites slightly higher figures: "[the 2009 Kia] Sedona averaged 22.7 mpg in mostly highway driving, 18.1 with more city use...a second test model averaged 16.1 mpg in mostly city driving and gas-eating acceleration tests...Sedona uses regular-grade gas."

When it comes to ride quality, J.D. Power declares, "Kia has done a terrific job with the suspension tuning on the Sedona...absorbent over bumps yet able...to produce stable handling, the Kia rides and drives like a Toyota Sienna with a little extra communication tossed in for the driver and motion control for the passengers." ConsumerGuide remarks, "Sedona is comfortable for a minivan, but it is not quite car-like. The suspension smoothes out small bumps well, but it bounces some over larger humps." Maneuverability leaves something to be desired, however; while the Kia Sedona 2009 "39.6-foot turning circle isn't out of line for a vehicle of its size, the Sedona isn't as maneuverable in tight parking lots as some of its competitors," according to Kelley Blue Book. Meanwhile, the test driver at MotherProof says "this baby was kind of hard to steer...it often felt as if it just didn't know how to move the parts it came equipped with."

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2009 Kia Sedona

Comfort & Quality

The 2009 Kia Sedona is roomy, comfortable, and quiet—though those who dwell on the details might find issue.

The 2009 Kia Sedona offers a reasonably comfortable, quiet ride, but interior materials are strictly average.

Reviewers take issue with the quality of the Sedona’s interior materials. Motor Trend remarks that the "Kia seems to use chintzier plastics and lower-grade leather in the interior...those plastics and leather have become glossier and more worn than the Odyssey's interior over a similar period." J.D. Power says, "Interior materials are acceptable and nothing more," noting that "leather on the steering wheel doesn't feel much like leather, and the cowhide on our EX model's seats was soft but artificial to the touch." Even MotherProof, otherwise pleased with the 2009 Kia Sedona, indicates that "interior materials consisted of an obvious plastic that lacked some luster." Cars.com reports the "cabin is short on soft-touch surfaces and long on nondescript plastics, but the materials are mostly in line with the price," but adds "one test EX suffered annoying rattles from the 2nd- and 3rd-row seats."

Cars.com advises that "third-row headroom in the short-wheelbase Sedona drops 1.9 inches compared to the long-wheelbase version, and shoulder room falls 3.3 inches. Second-row occupants lose 3.9 inches of legroom, as well." ConsumerGuide says of the 2009 Kia Sedona, "Front occupants find comfortable chair-height seats, yet there is ample headroom, [although] lanky drivers may want more rearward seat travel," adding that Kia Sedona's "tight 3rd row is adult comfortable for short trips only." MotherProof notes "lots of legroom...in the middle row, too, which made it a comfy ride for adult and child passengers alike."

MotherProof tells our experts at TheCarConnection.com that "there were eight cupholders...there was also ample storage space in the front: two glove compartments, a nice center console that held my huge purse/diaper bag with room to spare." In terms of cargo and storage space, the 2009 Kia Sedona is "roomy and versatile...[with] a flip-and-fold second row and a third row that disappears into the floor," according to Car and Driver. However, with the short version, "cargo capacity behind the third row drops considerably, from 32.2 cubic feet to just 12.9 cubic feet," reports Cars.com.

According to Kelley Blue Book, "interior noise levels…allow for easy three-row conversations." ConsumerGuide says the "engine makes a semi-refined full-throttle growl and is reasonably quiet otherwise"; however, they note, "Tire thrum and body rumble are noticed even during in-town driving, with wind rush joining in at highway speeds."

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2009 Kia Sedona

Safety

With high crash-test scores and all the safety equipment expected in this class, the 2009 Kia Sedona earns superior safety ratings.

The 2009 Kia Sedona doesn't sacrifice value for safety. The 2009 Kia Sedona comes with all the safety features that its rivals have. Cars.com reports, "Seat-mounted side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags that protect outboard occupants in all three rows of seats are standard" on every 2009 Kia Sedona model, while "all-disc antilock brakes incorporate electronic brake-force distribution."

More safety features are available with the EX trim, according to Kelley Blue Book: "Stepping up to the Sedona EX adds fog lights...[and an] auto-dimming rearview mirror."

MyRide.com says, "Visibility rearward from the 2009 Kia Sedona's driver's seat is especially good, an important contribution to safety, because the rear window is as big as it can be, and the headrests over the five rear seats sink down to the tops of the seats." Visibility is excellent all around. Cars.com points out that "the thick windshield pillars can impede visibility to front corners, but there are clear sightlines elsewhere."

MyRide.com states that the Kia Sedona "has achieved a five-star crash certification in all seating positions from the Federal government, and a Top Safety Pick rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety," and includes the "mandated frontal airbags," noting that "the Kia Sedona 2009 front passenger airbag turns itself off if a child is in the seat."

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2009 Kia Sedona

Features

The 2009 Kia Sedona offers a reasonable amount of standard equipment, but it comes nowhere close to what’s available in Chrysler’s minivans.

The 2009 Kia Sedona has many useful features both standard and optional, but Chrysler raises the state of the art with in-car TV, navigation, and in-floor folding seats.

According to Cars.com, all models include "tri-zone air conditioning, a CD player, cruise control, second-row captain's chairs and keyless entry with an alarm," while the Kia Sedona EX "adds power front seats, heated power mirrors, an auto-dimming inside mirror, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob, powered rear-quarter glass and a compass.” ConsumerGuide remarks that "standard power sliding-door windows are a fresh-air plus" on all Kia Sedona 2009 models. The 2009 Kia Sedona "is offered in two wheelbase lengths," states MyRide.com, as well as three different trims.

Kelley Blue Book reports that those who upgrade to the Kia Sedona EX trims can get "leather seating, heated front seats, driver's-position memory, sunroof, power sliding doors and liftgate, power-adjustable pedals, front-row automatic climate control, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, an Infinity 7.1 Surround Sound system with an in-dash six-disc CD changer and rear DVD entertainment system with two wireless headsets." In addition, there is a "less sophisticated rear DVD entertainment system that's available on both LX and EX 2009 Kia Sedona models." According to Cars.com, Kia Sedona 2009 "options list includes leather seats with heated front seats, memory for the driver's seat and mirror, and an 11-speaker DVD entertainment system."

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