California flaunts the famous fast-food In-N-Out burger. Kia, with U.S. headquarters based in California, offers the less famous but more satisfying In-n-Out Sedona minivan, which is new from the tires up for 2015.
It's a brave move by the South Korean vehicle manufacturer, coming during declining interest in minivans and against the few remaining but formidable contenders: Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Grand Caravan, Honda Odyssey, and Toyota Sienna.
During 2014, those brands together were selling at an annual rate of more than 540,000, not insubstantial. The Kia Sedona's annual rate is a blip at about 7,500.
The Sedona has not fared better because the company was forced to skip the 2013 model year to comply with new U.S. emissions regulations that required a re-design of the gasoline tank.
So the Sedona was out in 2013, but is back with the all-new 2015 model, in which Kia has invested a total effort, redesigning it to look less like a minivan and more like the resoundingly popular crossover utility vehicles (CUVs).
With new styling, packaging, and interior design, as well as a recycled moniker, Kia calls the Sedona a multi-purpose vehicle rather than a minivan. Other manufacturers have used different euphemisms.
In the end, there's nothing to be ashamed of, notwithstanding the derision heaped upon minivan devotees. The minivan is arguably the most useful vehicle on the planet, with superior passenger and cargo space, fuel economy, and handling compared to big SUVs.
The South Korean manufacturer has traditionally challenged competitors with low prices and welcomed no-cost extra features. That is becoming less of a positive because increasing quality and sales are narrowing the price gap. Nevertheless, the Sedona still has a price advantage over some competitors.
It comes in five trim levels, starting with the L at $26,795. Next up is the LX at $28,995, EX at $32,995, SX at $36,995 and the subject here, the top-line SX Limited, with a starting price of $40,595.
The Sedona can be ordered with seven- or eight-passenger seating. In the latter, a small seat in the second row nestles between two outboard captain's chairs. The seatback folds down to form an armrest with cup holders. Second-row seats also slide forward and fold up for cargo carrying.
Optional "first class" sliding second-row seats come with footrests and can be converted into credible imitations of Dad's home recliner, though that mostly wipes out the third row and cramps cargo space.
Depending on the model, the upholstery is either stain-repelling YES Essentials cloth or soft Nappa leather, as on the tested SX-L. Front seats and second-row captain's chairs deliver good support and comfort. Third-row seats, suitable mainly for children or small adults, conveniently fold into the floor.
The tested Sedona had motorized sliding side doors and a power tailgate that automatically opens when the key fob is detected nearby for three seconds; its opening height can be infinitely adjusted to avoid low-hanging obstacles such as garage shelves. An optional around view camera aids parking. Also available are adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection, and rear cross traffic alert.
No rear seat entertainment system is offered, which might be off-putting to some families. However, many aftermarket systems are available, and hand-held tablets also offer an affordable entertainment option.
A 3.3-liter direct injection gasoline V-6 engine replaces the previous generation 3.5-liter six. It sends 276 horsepower to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. With 4,720 pounds to move around, it delivers adequate but not exciting acceleration.
Ride, braking, and handling are competent, with a rigid chassis and negligible body lean around curves. The interior is whisper quiet with little intrusion of road, mechanical, or wind noise. Fit and finish look and feel are exceptional.
There are no substandard minivans on today's market. If you thirst for one, the Sedona could make your cup run over.
Copyright © 2015 Motor Matters
|Base price||$40,595 (as tested: $43,295)|
|Curb weight||4,720 lbs.|
|Engine type||24-valve V-6 w/GDI|
|Epa mileage rating||17 mpg city, 22 mpg highway|
|Fuel capacity||21.1 gal.|
|Horsepower (net)||276 at 6000 rpm|
|Overall length||201.4 in.|
|Torque (lb.-ft.)||248 at 5200 rpm|
|Vehicle type||7-passenger FWD minivan|
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