- 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.
2015 Kia Sedona
The Sedona's fresh new face is welcome, and the interior really steps up its charm.
Minivans are the middle-aged guys of the car world - they don't really have to worry about looks much, so long as they do what they're told.
That's the Sedona, though it's handsome enough to pass for more than work duty. Its design doesn't take a lot of risks, cribbing instead from Kia's established family of design cues. 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 solid beltline continues back all the way from headlights to taillamps. The side windowline steps a notch up like that on the Nissan Quest (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).
The profile is unmistakably that of a minivan—with practicality trumping any motion to innovate—but it's good looking nonetheless.
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. The interior reads bulky but attractive. 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. That said, we have yet to see a more basic interior with cloth upholstery, less jewelry, and less content.
2015 Kia Sedona
If you expect more performance out of a minivan than the Sedona delivers, you're not really coming to grips with your life stage.
Performance is hardly a factor for minivan shoppers, and the 2015 Kia Sedona does a fine job of keeping performance within the usual bandwidth. In its single drivetrain combination, it delivers moderate but smooth power, a mostly calm ride, and responsible handling that clears all the basic minivan hurdles without attempting anything too challenging.
The Sedona shares the 3.3-liter V-6 found in Kia's Cadenza sedan and in the Sorento crossover. It makes 276 fuss-free horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque, and has a nicely rounded engine note as it winds through its powerband and through lots of layers of sound deadening.
The powertrain is saddled with a lot of curb weight, though--the Sedona weighs 4,414 pounds in base trim, and up to 4,720 pounds in loaded models. Compared to a Honda Odyssey minivan, it's up on horsepower, about even on torque and weight, and unremarkable in its moderate acceleration.
Power is delivered to the front wheels through via a six-speed automatic transmission. The Sedona can tow up to 3,500 pounds, but a full passenger load and a trailer will take patience.
The Sedona rides on a basic strut suspension design in front and multi-link rear, with new bushings at the rear crossmembers and better isolation at the rear suspension for a better ride. In tuning, the Sedona feels like heavier Chrysler minivan in ways, with some minor shake in the steering column and a mostly well-damped ride that can get bouncy as it encounters rhythmically placed bumps. It's nearly wander-free on the interstates we drove, but push it briskly in corners and the Sedona's weight and suspension failsafe into minivan mode, tires lodging lots of complaints, just like your passengers will.
Only the top versions will have electric power steering, but unfortunately that's the only version we've driven to date. It's fairly fast off-center like the Chryslers, with enough weight added in to keep the Sedona tracking true on highway slogs.
Kia fits ventilated discs in front, solid discs in back. Base models get 17-inch steel wheels, but nicer wheels on nicer trim levels range from 17-inchers to 19-inchers, which didn't seem to ruffle the SX Limited's ride at all.
2015 Kia Sedona
Comfort & Quality
The Sedona's choice of sliding or lounging middle seats is a good compromise, though we still like fold-aways best.
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.
By the numbers, that makes it 201.4 inches long, with a 120.5-inch wheelbase. Total volume behind the front seats is 142 cubic feet, or 78.4 cubes behind the second row and 33.9 cubes behind the third-row seat. A Honda Odyssey, for comparison's sake, is 202.9 inches long on a 118.1-inch wheelbase, with 148.5, 93.1, or 38.4 cubic feet of space behind its seating rows.
On our personal usability scale, it's in a tier above the smaller and narrower Mazda 5 and Nissan Quest, roughly on par with the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna, and not quite as all-around flexible as the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan, which have our beloved stow-away second-row seats.
The Sedona offers 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, and though the higher dash slims the view outward a little, the front seats seem like they could soothe adult bodies on a cross-country family vacation.
In the second row, Kia tries to have it both ways. It doesn't tuck away its seats like the Chrysler vans--a feature we believe really maximizes the utility of a vehicle meant to be a do-it-all. However, on most versions, the Sedona has what's called Slide-n-Stow, an arrangement that can slide middle-row seats forward and flip up their bottom cushions, compacting the seat vertically in a space very close to the front seats. It leaves behind a low, level floor without the need to remove the seats, though there's not the internal length to do some of the things Chrysler's vans can do--haul a full-size sofa with the tailgate closed, for example. A 4X8 sheet of plywood will fit in back, but only if it's loaded at an angle over the tipped-forward second-row seats.
On the top Sedona SX-L, Kia rips out those non-removable sliding seats and installs so-called 'first-class' lounge seating with retractable lower leg rests and headrests with winglets. These seats can also move a limited amount side to side, to make a wider path from the front to the rearmost seats, but they also can't be removed. Kia thinks it's an acceptable trade-off and distinct enough from the Japanese minivan offerings, which don't have any tuck feature, either. The Sedona's exposed seat tracks are open to attracting a lot of gunk, but they're wide enough to be cleaned easily.
As for the third row, it's small, and not suitable for teenagers or adults, unlike the Sienna and Odyssey back seats. Headroom is shy and the entry space is barely a foot wide, even with the sliding seats moved forward. The third-row seat does split 60/40 and folds flat right into the floor.
Elsewhere in the Sedona, storage is pretty vast. There's a huge, deep front center console and several usable storage bins around the doors and dash. Top-end Sedonas have a sliding armrest on the console and a tiered tray. USB and charging points are easily accessible, and some models offer high-powered USB ports and 115-volt outlets for charging on the go.
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. In the vehicles we drove, all SX Limited models, the Sedona was exceptionally quiet, with a substantial feel you just don't get in a Chrysler van. It's tasteful at this $42,000 level, but we haven't yet seen one with the base cloth or Yes! Essentials spill-proof interior trim.
2015 Kia Sedona
The 2015 Sedona earns the highest possible crash-test ratings from both U.S. agencies, but its active features aren't quite up to other such systems.
The 2015 Kia Sedona is built on entirely new underpinnings, and Kia boasts that its new structure, with 76 percent high-strength steel, provides safety benefits.
It's already earned some great crash-test scores—including five-star safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and top 'good' scores all around from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
However, its available Forward Collision Warning System only makes the cut for 'basic' IIHS front crash prevention—which, in turn means the Sedona misses the Top Safety Pick+ honors list.
Along with airbags and stability control, the Sedona comes with standard brake assist and hill-start assist, as well as cornering brake control and rollover mitigation--functions embedded in its stability-control system to help the van corner more safely, and intervene when it senses trouble.
Among other features we would insist upon, Bluetooth smartphone connectivity is standard, but a rearview camera isn't available until you step up to the LX trim package--an omission we hope Kia changes before the Feds mandate the cameras in the coming years. We'd also like to see the available surround-view cameras offered on a trim package other than the SX Limited--we're sold on the parking convenience they offer, not to mention the added safety from getting a 360-degree view of parking-space surroundings.
2015 Kia Sedona
The Sedona's smartphone-driven UVO connectivity and navigation are the wave of the future, we think.
With the drop in minivan sales and the spread of popularity to empty-nesters, Kia's Sedona doesn't change much in basic specification. Its five trim levels, though, are equipped ot appeal to drivers looking for very basic strippers, value-packed family vans, and luxury-sedan substitutes. (Apparently a fully decked out Sedona is the hot clubbing ticket in Seoul: who knew?)
The Sedona is sold in five trim levels--L, LX, EX, SX, and SX Limited. The base $26,795 Sedona L comes in a seven-seat configuration, and includes standard power windows, locks, and mirrors; cruise control; air conditioning; 17-inch wheels; tilt/telescoping steering; steering-wheel audio and phone controls; fold-away third-row seat; Bluetooth; rear parking sensors; AM/FM/CD player with USB port; and keyless entry.
Moving up to the $28,995 Sedona LX adds privacy glass, roof rails; a power driver seat; a rearview camera and UVO smartphone connectivity; and adds options for power sliding side doors; a cooled dual glovebox; heated front seats; and an eight-passenger seating configuration (the second-row seat becomes a bench).
On the $32,995 Sedona EX, 18-inch wheels are standard, as are foglights; heated mirrors; power sliding side doors and tailgate; a cooled glovebox; pushbutton start; eight-passenger seating; a leather steering wheel; and leather seats. Second-row heated seats are an option, as are blind-spot monitors.
The $36,995 Sedona SX gets standard LED taillamps and an eight-speaker Infinity audio system; the seven-seat configuration; a power front passenger seat; heated front and second-row seats; ventilated front seats; and navigation.
The $40,595 Sedona SX Limited is quite fully stocked with all the features of the SX except the slide-stow second-row seats. In its place it gets second-row lounge seating; 19-inch wheels; a panoramic sunroof; Nappa leather; a heated wood steering wheel; and options for surround-view cameras, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and forward-collision warning systems.
Among the cooler features in the new Sedona, other than its glovebox, there's a smart tailgate function that senses when the keyfob is close by for three seconds--at which time it opens. The Sedona also gets Kia's first high-power USB charging port and there's a 115-volt AC outlet. With your iPad, they can take the place of the flip-up rear-seat entertainment system, which requires you bring your library of discs.
The Sedona doesn't offer embedded data to feed the entertainment monster, though--all its infotainment functions are dependent on your smartphone, an idea we like. 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).
Finally, the Sedona is 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.
2015 Kia Sedona
Gas mileage is average by the EPA's numbers and in our book.
All Kia Sedona minivans are equipped with the same powertrain, but fuel economy can vary depending on the model.
How's that again?
There's one key difference that separates most Sedonas from the top SX and SX Limited trims: electric power steering. On the models equipped with throwback hydraulic-boosted power steering, gas mileage is rated by the EPA at 18 miles per gallon city, 24 mpg highway, and 20 mpg combined.
Electric steering helps the Sedona SX up to 18/25 mpg, or 21 mpg combined. But opt into the SX Limited and it falls to 17/22 mpg, or 19 mpg combined, in spite of the more efficient steering. That's because the SX Limited has lots of standard features not found on other models--lounge-style second-row seats and a panoramic sunroof--that add weight to its bottom line.