Kia Sedona offers an exceptionally good value for a big family that doesn't want to break the budget on a minivan. The Kia Sedona is bigger than a Dodge Caravan and comes loaded with popular features, even more for 2003. Yet the Sedona costs thousands less than popular minivans.
Though relatively inexpensive, the Sedona is among the few minivans that have earned the Federal government's top five-star crash rating for both driver and front-seat passenger, in both front and side-impact tests. That's an important consideration in a family taxi.
Kia Sedona is available in two trim levels, LX ($19,620) and EX ($21,835). Kia says Sedona prices are more than $4500 less than comparably equipped domestic and Japanese brands.
Both models are powered by a big 3.5-liter V6 engine mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. They provide seven-passenger seating and come standard with sliding doors on both sides.
LX is equipped well, even without options. Standard equipment includes front and rear air conditioning, power mirrors, power front windows, cruise control, an overhead console with storage, rear window defroster and wiper/washer, interior lighting, three power outlets, eight-way manually adjustable driver's seat, a tilt steering column, even floor mats. New for 2003 is a standard six-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo.
EX adds remote keyless entry, chrome exterior trim, fog lights, woodgrain interior trim, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a luggage rack, heated mirrors, power rear quarter windows, power seats for driver and passenger, second-row captain's chairs in place of the standard two-seat bench, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a folding table, a trip computer, alloy wheels, and an AM/FM/CD/cassette stereo with eight speakers.
The short list of options includes anti-lock brakes (ABS) for $595, a roof rack for the LX ($175), and a trailer hitch ($350). A Leather Package ($850) and power sunroof ($575) are available only on the EX.
Kia Sedona is measures 194 inches long on a 114.6-inch wheelbase. That means the Sedona fits in between the long vans, such as the Dodge Grand Caravan, Honda Odyssey and long-wheelbase versions of the Chevy Venture, and the shorter vans such as the Caravan, the standard-length Venture and the Mazda MPV.
Kia's product planners in America worked with Kia's engineers and designers in Korea to come up with a traditional minivan design. A minivan needs to look like a minivan, they said. Sedona styling cues include a bold grille, big headlamps, and a body-colored roof rack (on the EX). Two-tone body side cladding is standard on EX models, along with brightwork around the rear. Overall, the Kia Sedona is an attractive design.
The outside door handles are easy to grab and we like the design, but the finish is not up to par, and the inside edges do not convey a sense of quality.
The rear hatch is easy to open. Pull on the lever and it raises itself up and out of the way. Anyone less than six feet tall can stand under the hatch without worrying about banging their head on it. Closing it takes a little effort, however, so you'll probably need both hands. As in other minivans this size, there isn't a whole lot of room for cargo behind the third row. There is enough space for a dozen bags of groceries, however, and hooks are provided on the backs of the third-row seats to help keep plastic grocery bags in place.
Living with the Sedona is convenient and comfortable. Visibility from the driver's seat is excellent. The view through the rearview mirror is hindered somewhat by the headrests, though there's a clear view out the middle. Big power side mirrors offer a good view rearward.
All seating positions are roomy and comfortable. The cloth seats in the LX are supportive, better than the flat seats in the Ford Windstar, and the steering wheel is comfortable. The cloth fabric feels like mouse fur, and may be a bit warm in the summer. Better are the leather-covered seats optional on the EX, which are firm and offer power lumbar adjustment. Sedona's seats seem smaller than those in a big SUV, and they suited us, though we would have preferred more side bolstering. Adjustable-height shoulder belts come standard and enhance comfort. So make sure you use them as seatbelts are your best defense in a crash. The front-inside door handles are easy to find and operate, which isn't true in many SUVs.
The second row of seats is comfortable, particularly when ordered as captain's chairs. Second- and third-row occupants each have their own reading lights and cup holders.
Even the third row is a comfortable place for two adults, much more comfortable than the third row that's found in most sport-utility vehicles, even the big expensive ones. There's lots of leg room and good hip room. Headroom is a little more limited, but fine for an average size adult. Window switches allow third-row occupants to open and close the rear quarter windows.
Getting into and out of the third row is very easy, something that can't be said of any SUV, including the giant Suburban. To get out, simply press a foot lever, and the second-row seatback flips forward and then automatically slides forward. Manually operated side doors easily slide open and closed.
To make room for cargo, the third row flips forward, then tumbles, but you must first remove the headrests. The rear seats are heavy, like those in other minivans, such as the Dodge Caravan. They have grab handles, but the seatback doesn't stay locked down, making them awkward to handle. The second-row seats are easy to latch in or out and, like the rearmost seats, are mounted on rollers. But like most seats, when it comes time to lift them, they are still heavy and awkward.
Sedona's transmission lever comes out of the dash. Odd at first glance, this design takes up less space and offers the advantage of opening up interior space between the front seats. It's a good spot for tote bags, purses, or a couple of sacks of groceries, much nicer than having things roll around in the passenger-side footwell. When equipped with second-row captain's chairs, this design creates an area down the center of the seats that's useful for carrying longer items.
Interior switchgear is functional, but not elegant to the touch. It does not impart a feeling of quality. Buttons for cruise control, rear defrost, and the audio system are mounted high for accessibility. But the buttons are small and fussy and lack sufficient tactile feedback.
Nice details include visor extensions for early morning or late afternoon driving. Two glove boxes provide storage, along with a compartment on top of dash similar. There are more cup holders than seating positions. Interiors are available in beige or gray.
The Kia Sedona is an enjoyable vehicle to drive. The V6 engine delivers good responsive around town. Kia tuned the 3.5-liter V6 more for torque than horsepower, and peak torque comes at just 3500 rpm. Torque is that force that propels you away from intersections and up hills. By concentrating more of the power at lower rpm, the Sedona gets quick acceleration off the line. It's a good engine, at least as smooth as the V6 engines found in American minivans.
A five-speed automatic transmission, once a feature found only on expensive luxury cars, gives the Sedona responsive performance in all situations. The transmission is smooth and responsive. With five gears to choose from, it is able to keep the engine running at the best speed for conditions. Fifth gear is an overdrive (0.73:1) for improved fuel economy on the highway. Sedona burns regular gas, unlike the Honda Odyssey, which means smaller bills at the pump.
Sedona rides well. It's smooth over road undulations. It handles well, the steering is tight, and it feels stable at high speeds. The headlamp/foglamp combination throws a decent beam.
Anti-lock brakes are optional and help bring the Sedona to an undramatic stop when pushed to the limit. We recommend getting the ABS because it helps the driver maintain steering control in an emergency braking maneuver: Mash down on the brake pedal hard, do not relax your foot off the pedal when you feel the ABS pulsing, and remember to steer around obstacles.
The Kia Sedona offers an outstanding value when compared with other minivans. As for quality, only time will tell. In the meantime, the Kia Sedona guarantees much lower monthly payments, a responsive V6, an impressive list of features, and one of the best warranties in the business.
Kia is getting more mighty every day, gaining the acceptance of American consumers. The company now sells more vehicles in the U.S. than Jaguar, Saab, or Land Rover. The Sedona is Kia's first minivan, and the company says minivan buyers are far more demanding than compact-car buyers.
|Model Line Overview |
|Model lineup: ||LX ($19,620); EX ($21,835) |
|Engines: ||195-hp, 3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve V6 |
|Transmissions: ||5-speed automatic |
|Safety equipment (standard): ||dual front airbags |
|Safety equipment (optional): ||ABS |
|Basic warranty: ||5 years/60,000 miles |
|Assembled in: ||Seoul, South Korea |
|Specifications As Tested |
|Model tested (MSRP): ||Kia Sedona EX ($21,835) |
|Standard equipment: ||dual-zone air conditioning, power mirrors, power fwindows, cruise control, overhead console with storage and digital clock, rear window defroster and wiper/washer, interior lighting, three power outlets, tilt steering column, AM/FM/CD/cassette, floor mats, remote keyless entry, chrome exterior trim, fog lights, automatic headlights, woodgrain trim, luggage rack, heated mirrors, power adjustable front bucket seats, second-row captain's chairs, leather-wrapped steering wheel, folding cupholder tray, trip computer, alloy wheels |
|Options as tested (MSRP): ||Leather Package ($850); power sunroof ($575); ABS ($595) |
|Destination charge: ||($595) |
|Gas guzzler tax: ||N/A |
|Price as tested (MSRP): ||$24,450 |
|Layout: ||front-wheel drive |
|Engine: ||3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve V6 |
|Horsepower (hp @ rpm): ||195 @ 5500 |
|Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm): ||218 @ 3500 |
|Transmission: ||5-speed automatic |
|EPA fuel economy, city/hwy: ||15/20 mpg |
|Wheelbase: ||114.6 in. |
|Length/width/height: ||194.1/74.6/69.3 in. |
|Track, f/r: ||64.4/63.4 in. |
|Turning circle: ||41.1 ft. |
|Seating capacity: ||7 |
|Head/hip/leg room, f: ||39.4/58.7/40.6 in. |
|Head/hip/leg room, m: ||39.2/65.1/37.2 in. |
|Head/hip/leg room, r: ||36.3/48.8/32.8 in. |
|Trunk volume: ||127.5 cu. ft. |
|Payload: ||N/A |
|Towing capacity: ||3500 Lbs. |
|Suspension, f: ||independent |
|Suspension, r: ||beam axle |
|Ground clearance: ||6.9 in. |
|Curb weight: ||4802 lbs. |
|Tires: ||P215/70HR15 |
|Brakes, f/r: ||disc/drum with ABS |
|Fuel capacity: ||19.8 gal. |
Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle.
All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSRP) effective as of March 03, 2003.
Prices do not include manufacturer's destination and delivery charges. N/A: Information not available or not applicable.
Manufacturer Info Sources: 1-800-333-4542 - www.kia.com
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