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