2015 Kia Sedona SX Long Term: Kia gives us a Sedona to play with for a year, but we’re keeping it even longer for a true, real-world test.
By BJ Killeen
The Big Picture
The difference between Kia 20 years ago and Kia today is like trying to compare the Wright Brothers plane to the Space Shuttle. Kia is bigger and better than it’s ever been, and what it’s learned over those two decades is apparent in every vehicle it makes, especially the Kia Sedona MPV. When the 2015 was introduced, we jumped at the chance to get one in our family for an extended test. We have owned minivans in the past, and were excited to see if this people and cargo hauler could compete in a segment dominated by long-timers like the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, and Dodge Caravan.
An Inside Job
The Sedona offers something for everyone, with five trim levels: L, LX, EX, SX and SX Limited. All but the two entry trims are fitted with YES Essentials fabric seats, designed to be stain resistant (perfect for a family with messy kids, which is every kid that ever lived). Three rows provide seating for 7 or 8 passengers, depending on how you outfit the second row. Choose the “Lounge” chairs if you want the ultimate bucket seat comfort, or the Slide-N-Stow seats that will fit three occupants and fold up toward the front row. The third row folds flat for ample storage, or when in the up position, leaves a deep well in the rear in which to put cargo and groceries so they don’t slide around.
The controls are ergonomically correct, and the steering wheel features buttons for audio, Bluetooth, voice recognition and cruise control. Because the Sedona was designed to have a more CUV feel, there’s a large center console between the front seats that is handier that first thought in a van. A deep storage bin, large cupholders, and USB/powerpoints galore elicit zero complaints from driver or front-seat passenger.
Dual sliding doors are standard on EX and above models, and a Smart Liftgate that opens when you are in proximity with the key is optional. It’s a great idea, until you happen to walk by and it opens, even if you didn’t want it to; the good news is it can be turned off.
Being a family vehicle, safety obviously is paramount. The Kia Sedona is on it, with six airbags, brake assist, stability control, disc brakes all around, and Hill Start assist all standard. Other standard features to keep everyone healthy include Rollover Mitigation and Cornering Brake Control. Optional are items like Vehicle Stability Management, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot warning with Cross Traffic Alert, and Forward Collision Warning.
Safety isn’t just about features, however; it’s also about build quality, and the Sedona is a standout here as well. The van has a strong chassis, uses advanced high-strength steel, and beefy, reinforced pillars. Not only do these provide extra protection for the occupants, but also deliver impressive ride quality.
Because we were so impressed with the Kia Sedona over our year-long loan period, we asked if we could keep it another 12 months to continue the durability testing. Kia agreed, and we are now in our 17th month of use, watching the odometer roll past the 40,000-mile mark. We’ve taken it in for regular maintenance, have experienced an average of 20 mpg over that duration (the best we saw on a trip was 28.6 mpg!), and gone on multiple trips around the country. If you want to follow our adventures, visit the Sedona’s Twitter page @KiaSedonaMPV.
We still remark almost daily on how well the Kia Sedona handles. The Amplitude Selected Dampers and the independent front/rear suspension allow us to drive it as if it were a sports car. Of course there’s some body roll due to it’s dimensions, but it’s minimal for a vehicle of this size, and the focus on ride quality by the engineers is evident.
Surprising people at stoplights is so much fun because the 3.3L V6 makes 276 horsepower, but also has great torque for pulling away at stoplights and getting onto the highway. It’s the only engine no matter what trim, and it’s matched to a six-speed automatic transmission.
Gizmos And Tech
While we love 99.9 percent of the Sedona, the only area that disappoints us is the UVO connectivity system. While there are a lot of good features on it, the navigation is what kills it. The voice recognition isn’t up to par with some of the newer systems, and the navigation is a bit slow and sometimes off. We did an update recently when we added Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (love them!), and there’s some improvement overall, but with the new SYNC 3 from Ford and Uconnect from FCA, we know there are better systems out there. On the plus side, we love the Infinity audio system.
Although the minivan market continues to be ruled by established vans, the Kia Sedona is well worth adding to your shopping list.
Room to take anything
Surprising power and handling
Kia's proprietary connected media service called UVO is frustrating to use