"Kia makes a minivan?" That’s a common response when we tell people about the all-new 2015 Kia Sedona. On the one hand, it’s surprising, because Kia’s actually been making the Sedona since 2002. On the other hand, it’s totally understandable, because the previous Sedona models never distinguished themselves in the marketplace. They were functional, serviceable, affordable and completely forgettable.
With the launch of the 2015 Sedona, that’s about to change in a big way. You can already tell from the new Sedona’s assertive exterior styling that it means business. This is a distinctively good-looking van, with muscular features that Kia says are inspired by crossover SUVs. Inside, you get all the features that minivan buyers expect, along with a snug driving position that puts the shift lever beside you on the console, just like in a crossover. The look of the dashboard, including the buttons, gauges and the materials, is decidedly upscale.
Is the 2015 Sedona the best minivan you can buy? We’re not ready to go that far, but without a doubt, it’s a fully competitive minivan for the money. This is the first Sedona that can go toe-to-toe with the Odyssey and the Sienna, and that’s a big win for Kia.
What’s New for 2015?
The 2015 Sedona is an all-new model.
What We Like
Distinctive styling; generous features; unique second-row seats with flip-forward cargo mode; strong value
What We Don’t
Unimpressive fuel economy
All Sedonas employ front-wheel drive and a 3.3-liter V6 engine that generates 276 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque. The transmission is a 6-speed automatic.
Fuel economy estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency start at 18 miles per gallon in the city and 24 mpg on the highway for the L, LX and EX trim levels. The SX takes it up a notch to 18 mpg city/25 mpg hwy, but the SX-L drops to 17 mpg city/22 mpg hwy. Overall, these aren’t bad numbers, but the Odyssey’s are significantly better.
Standard Features & Options
The 2015 Kia Sedona is offered in L, LX, EX, SX and SX-L trim levels, with 7- or 8-passenger seating.
The L ($26,795) comes standard with features such as steel wheels, manual sliding doors, rear parking sensors, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, second-row seats that flip forward against the first-row seatbacks to increase cargo space, air conditioning with a rear-passenger control panel, cruise control, Bluetooth phone and audio, a USB port, and a 4-speaker audio system with satellite radio.
The LX ($28,995) also gets alloy wheels, roof rails, LED running lights, power-folding mirrors, rear privacy glass, a backup camera, a power driver’s seat, a 6-speaker audio system, and the UVO electronics suite with a mobile app providing monitoring and control of various vehicle systems.
The EX ($32,995) throws in larger 18-inch wheels, fancier LED running lights, fog lights, heated mirrors, a power lift gate (with programmable height adjustment), power-sliding doors, keyless ignition, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, 3-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a cooled glove compartment, rear sunshades, and an Infinity audio system with eight speakers and HD Radio.
The SX ($36,995) boasts LED taillights, driver memory settings, a power passenger seat, heated seats (first and second rows), cooled front seats, fancier leather upholstery, driver-selectable steering and transmission calibrations, an upgraded color trip computer, an 8-in touchscreen with navigation, a voice-command system, and a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert.
The SX-L ($40,595) throws in even larger 19-in wheels, chrome exterior trim, front parking sensors, a heated steering wheel with wood trim, additional wood interior accents, and second-row lounge seats with extendable leg rests and winged headrests.
For the LX, a Convenience package is offered that bundles the cooled glove compartment, heated front seats, power-sliding doors and rear sunshades.
For the EX, a Premium package bundles 4-way driver power lumbar support, memory settings, the power front passenger seat, heated second-row seats, and the blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert.
For the SX-L, a Technology package contributes automatic xenon headlights, a surround-view parking camera, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control and a forward-collision warning system.
All trims can be outfitted with a tow hitch and a rear-seat entertainment system.
The 2015 Sedona comes with anti-lock disc brakes, stability control and six airbags (front, front-side and full-length side-curtain). Options include a parking camera (standard or surround-view), rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning and a forward-collision warning system (bundled with adaptive cruise control).
Behind the Wheel
In our interior evaluation, we were impressed by the 2015 Sedona’s upscale vibe. The placement of the shifter definitely has something to do with it: Most minivans have shift levers on the dashboard, while the Sedona’s is between the seats on the prominent center console, just like in a crossover. There’s more to the high-quality interior than that, however. The buttons and switchgear look like they’ve been yanked from the Cadenza luxury sedan, and the materials are easily class-competitive. The previous Sedona was all about being generic, but the new one’s not afraid to stand out.
Seat comfort is solid all around in the Sedona, with enough room for full-sized adults even in the third row. The optional 8-passenger layout utilizes a removable middle seat for the second row, and the second-row seats have a Slide-n-Stow feature to help maximize cargo space, collapsing upright against the first-row seatbacks. Operation is pretty straightforward, and we like that the Sedona doesn’t require the backbreaking task of removing the second-row seats in order to achieve full cargo capacity. The only letdown is that the SX-L’s lounge seats do not offer Slide-n-Stow, so if you plan to haul a lot of stuff, the top-of-the-line Sedona probably isn’t the best fit.
On the road, the 3.3-liter V6 sounds a bit coarse at higher rpm, but in general it’s well-behaved. Acceleration is sufficiently brisk, with fuel economy acceptable but somewhat disappointing for a new-for-2015 model. Road noise is noticeable but held to reasonable levels on most surfaces. We found the ride rather firm with the SX-L’s 19-in wheels aboard; for optimal ride comfort, stick with the 18s (EX and SX) or the 17s (L and LX).
Other Cars to Consider
Chrysler Town & Country — Descended from the Dodge Caravan that started the whole minivan craze, the Town & Country lags behind in terms of materials quality, but it’s still a good value.
Honda Odyssey — The Odyssey has the best fuel economy of the bunch, and its driving dynamics are highly refined.
Toyota Sienna — The Sienna’s 3.5-liter V6 is the strongest and most satisfying engine in this segment, and the 2015 Sienna is refreshed inside and out.
Used Mercedes-Benz R-Class — The discontinued 3-row R-Class was basically a luxury minivan with four conventional doors instead of a couple sliding doors, and it’s brilliant to drive. Look for the BlueTEC turbodiesel model for better fuel efficiency and low-end torque.
We see the most value in the Sedona’s reasonably priced LX trim level. You get cloth upholstery instead of leather, so that’s one less thing to worry about. You also get a backup camera, a power driver’s seat and other handy features for under $30,000.