- 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 2016 Kia Sedona is a viable alternative to the four top-selling minivans, with a quiet and spacious interior, a very comfortable high-end seating option, a smooth ride, and a modern infotainment system.
With its 2015 redesign, the Kia Sedona became much more competitive in terms of space, functionality, and refinement, and the 2016 model only adds features, including a standard rearview camera. 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. The 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 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 than that of some rivals, but is split 60/40 and folds flat into the floor.
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—Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Chrysler Pacifica, and Dodge Grand Caravan, followed by outliers like the Nissan Quest and Sedona.
The engine is the same 3.3-liter V-6 found in the Cadenza sedan and Sorento crossover, both of which weigh considerably less than the Sedona. Power is adequate with two or three passengers aboard, and the 276-horsepower V-6 runs very smoothly behind lots of layers of sound deadening. A 6-speed automatic moves the power to the front wheels (only the Sienna offers all-wheel drive). The available 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 excellent, even with the top model's 19-inch wheels, but when it's pressed the Sedona can't hide any of its considerable weight of at least 4,414 pounds.
With a healthy dose of high-strength steel in the body, the Sedona posts top-tier crash-test ratings. Kia also includes Bluetooth and a rearview camera on all models, but a surround-view cameras—which we love—are limited to the most expensive model.
The Sedona takes no risks in styling. The Kia family grille fits well on the Sedona's big front end and creates a clean look. There's no mistaking the minivan profile, but some of the size is disguised by the uptick in the 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 quality materials applied to its surfaces.
Among the available features are a smart tailgate that opens the hatch when the keyfob is detected in close proximity for three seconds, and a dual-compartment glove box with a cooled lower area. The 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 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 $27,000, but we think the sweet spot is the $33,595 Sedona EX, which comes with power sliding side doors, a power tailgate, eight-passenger seating, keyless ignition, and leather seats.
Interestingly, different trims of the Sedona have different EPA ratings. The base van runs at 18 mpg city, 24 highway, 20 combined, according to the EPA. The heaviest and most opulent version of the Sedona earns 17/22/19 mpg, according to the EPA, despite having the same powertrain.
2016 Kia Sedona
The Sedona's quality interior materials are an inviting change from the minivan norm, and the exterior is stylish as well.
Minivans are like Homer Simpson. They don't have to be svelte as long as they do what Marge needs them to do.
That's the Sedona, though it's certainly more handsome than Homer. The Sedona's look offers a touch of class that suggests more than just work duty, but its design doesn't take a lot of risks, cribbing instead from Kia's established family of design cues. The front end has a clean look, with swept-back headlamps, LED running lamps, and a more upright version of the familiar Kia grille.
The profile is unmistakably that of a minivan, with practicality trumping any motion to innovate, but it's good looking nonetheless.
The solid window line starts at the headlights and continues all the way to the taillights. The side windows step up a notch just ahead of the third row, like on the Nissan Quest, rather than down, as on the Honda Odyssey. The view from the rear clearly resembles the latest Sorento crossover, only with its rear pillars hidden away, fashionably, beneath wrap-around glass, and its rear bumper height several inches lower (for easier loading).
Inside, the Sedona features a visually charming, horizontally laid-out instrument panel, along with a two-tone look and glossy piano-black trim. The interior reads bulky but attractive. Soft-touch materials are found on the upper portions of the dash and door trim, and there's a level of fine detail and substantial materials from higher end Kias such as the Cadenza and K900 sedans. That said, we have yet to see the base interior, which is adorned with cloth upholstery, less jewelry, and less content.
2016 Kia Sedona
The Sedona's power and performance fit within the minivan norms. If you need any more, a minivan is not the answer.
Performance is hardly a factor for minivan shoppers, and the 2016 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 rides on a basic strut suspension design in front and multilink rear. In tuning, the Sedona feels like a heavier, older Chrysler minivan in a couple 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 interstate, but push it briskly in corners and the Sedona's weight and suspension fail-safe into minivan mode, tires lodging lots of complaints, just like your passengers will.
Only the top versions have electric power steering, and those are the only versions we've driven to date. It's fairly fast off-center like the Dodge Grand Caravan 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 higher trim levels range from 17- to 19-inches; the 19s didn't seem to ruffle the SX Limited's ride at all.
The Sedona shares its 3.3-liter V-6 with the Cadenza sedan and Sorento crossover. It makes 276 fuss-free horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. On the road, it 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, as 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 a 6-speed automatic transmission. The Sedona can tow up to 3,500 pounds, but a full passenger load and a trailer will cause the engine to struggle.
2016 Kia Sedona
Comfort & Quality
Fold-away seats provide the most utility, but we like the Sedona's choice of sliding or lounging middle seats.
Kia describes the Sedona as the quietest in its segment, thanks to all sorts of measures like wheel-house padding, double-sealed sliding doors, and lots of 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 some competitors. It's tasteful at this $42,000 level, but we haven't yet seen one with the lower end spill-proof cloth upholstery.
The Sedona offers seating for up to eight, as well the kind of versatility that always seems to be at its best in minivans. The front seats feel 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 do it all. However, on most versions, the Sedona has what's called Slide-n-Stow, an arrangement that can slide the middle-row seats forward and flip up their bottom cushions, compacting the seats 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, such as haul a full-size sofa with the tailgate closed. A 4-by-8 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 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 can't be removed. Kia thinks this is an acceptable trade-off and distinct enough from the Japanese minivan offerings, which don't have any in-floor storage 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. Head room is shy and the entry space is barely a foot wide, even with the sliding seats moved forward. The third-row seat splits 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 overall length and cabin dimension, the Sedona is within a few inches 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, the 2016 Kia Sedona is 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 new Chrysler Pacifica, which have our beloved stow-away second-row seats.
2016 Kia Sedona
While the Sedona earns excellent crash-test ratings, its suite of safety technologies isn't as extensive as some competitors.
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 they sense trouble.
We like the Sedona's standard Bluetooth smartphone connectivity and a rearview camera. 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 inherent in a 360-degree view of parking-space surroundings.
Kia boasts that the Sedona's structure, which features 76 percent high-strength steel, provides safety benefits.
The Sedona has earned some great crash-test scores, including five-star safety ratings from the federal regulators and top "Good" scores all around from the IIHS, which is good enough to be a Top Safety Pick by that agency.
However, its available forward collision warning system only makes the cut for "Basic" IIHS front crash prevention, which means the Sedona misses the Top Safety Pick+ honors list.
2016 Kia Sedona
With five trim levels, the Sedona offers a model for every budget.
The 2016 Kia Sedona comes in five trim levels: L, LX, EX, SX, and SX Limited. With such a wide model spread, there is a Sedona for every taste, from drivers looking for basic strippers, to value-packed family vans, and even to luxury-sedan substitutes.
The base $27,295 Sedona L comes in a seven-seat configuration, and includes a fold-away third-row seat; standard power windows, locks, and mirrors; cruise control; air conditioning; tilt/telescoping steering; steering-wheel audio and phone controls; Bluetooth; AM/FM/CD player with USB port; keyless entry; rear parking sensors; and 17-inch alloy wheels. For 2016 it also adds a standard rearview camera.
The $29,395 Sedona LX comes with a second-row bench seat that ups the occupant capacity to eight. It also adds a power driver seat, UVO smartphone connectivity, privacy glass, and roof rails. Buyers can also opt for power sliding side doors, heated front seats, and a cooled dual glove box.
Power sliding side doors and a power tailgate are standard on the $33,595 Sedona EX, as are leather seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, the cooled glove box, keyless ignition, foglights, heated mirrors, and 18-inch wheels. Heated front seats are newly standard this year as well. Blind-spot monitors and second-row heated seats are optional.
The $37,295 Sedona SX gets the seven-seat configuration, plus an eight-speaker Infinity audio system, a power front passenger seat, heated second-row seats, ventilated front seats, a navigation system, and LED taillights.
The $40,795 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. Others standard features include Nappa leather upholstery, a heated wood-wrapped steering wheel, a panoramic sunroof, and 19-inch wheels. Available options include surround-view cameras, adaptive cruise control, and lane-departure warning and forward-collision warning systems.
The Sedona doesn't offer embedded data to feed the entertainment monster. All of 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. UVO also uses Siri Eyes Free connectivity and Google Local Search systems to help find and navigate to points of interest.
Among the cooler features in the Sedona, other than its glove box, there's a smart tailgate function that senses when the keyfob is close 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. Together with your iPad or tablet, these features can take the place of the flip-up rear-seat entertainment system, and you won't have to lug around your library of discs.
Finally, the Sedona is Kia's first model to offer geo-fencing, speed and curfew alert, and a "Driving Score," based on behavior. All of these features 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.
2016 Kia Sedona
Despite just one engine and transmission, the Sedona has multiple fuel economy ratings, and they're all pretty much average for the class.
This may sound strange, but the EPA fuel economy ratings of the 2016 Kia Sedona change by model even though they all feature the same V-6 and 6-speed automatic transmission.
The main difference is the steering. Lower-end models have traditional hydraulic-assist power steering, but the SX and SX Limited get electric-assist power steering. The base models are all EPA-rated at 18 mpg city, 24 highway, 20 combined.
EPS helps boost the ratings of the Sedona SX to 18/25/21 mpg. Even though the SX Limited has EPS as well, its ratings drop to 17/22/19 mpg. That's because the SX Limited has many standard features not found on other models, including lounge-style second-row seats and a panoramic sunroof, that add weight and therefore lower fuel economy. The standard 19-inch wheels and tires probably don't help fuel economy, either.