While some crossover SUVs attemp to present themselves as the perfect family-hauling vehicles, there’s still no getting around the overall versatility of the minivan. Not so "mini" anymore, the 2018 Kia Sedona nevertheless is one of the better options out there, combining handsome styling, good value and respectable reliability and resale values. And while the new benchmark for styling and handling once again belongs to Chrysler and its stunning Pacifica, the Sedona offers similar styling and features, but with a better price and a longer warranty.
Just one look, and you can tell from the 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’ll have all the features that minivan buyers expect, along with a snug driving position that puts the shift lever beside you on the console, like in a crossover. The look of the dashboard is decidedly upscale, including the buttons, the gauges and the materials. The Sedona also comes standard with a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Is the Kia Sedona the best minivan you can buy? We’re not ready to go that far, but it’s certainly a competitive minivan for the money. This is the first Sedona able to go toe-to-toe with the Honda Odyssey and the Toyota Sienna, and that’s a big win for Kia.
What’s New for 2018?
Other than some new paint color choices, the 2018 Kia Sedona carries over with no changes of note.
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; narrow rear-quarter windows limit side vision
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 SXL drops to 17 mpg city/22 mpg hwy. Overall, these aren’t horrible numbers, but the Odyssey’s are significantly better, as are the new Chrysler Pacifica’s — the latter also offers a plug-in hybrid model.
Standard Features & Options
The 2018 Kia Sedona is offered in L, LX, EX, SX and SXL trim levels, with 7- or 8-passenger seating.
The L ($27,850) comes standard with features such as steel wheels, manual sliding doors, rear-parking sensors, a rear backup camera, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, second-row seats that flip forward against the first-row seat backs 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 ($29,850) also receives alloy wheels, roof rails, LED running lights, power-folding mirrors, rear privacy glass, power-sliding doors, 8-passenger seating, a power driver’s seat and a 6-speaker audio system.
The EX ($34,550) throws in larger 18-inch wheels, fancier LED running lights, fog lights, heated mirrors, a power lift gate (with programmable height adjustment), heated front seats, 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 UVO3 eServices with Apply CarPlay and Android Auto.
The SX ($37,850) boasts LED taillights, driver memory settings, second-row captain’s chair seating, a power passenger seat, heated seats (first and second rows), cooled front seats, driver-selectable steering and transmission calibrations, an upgraded color trip computer, an 8-in touchscreen with navigation, an Infinity audio system with eight speakers and HD Radio, a voice-command system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert.
The SXL ($42,850) throws in larger 19-in wheels, auto-leveling HID headlights, a heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, an Around-View Monitor, lane-departure warning, forward-collision warning and autonomous emergency braking.
The LX offers the Advanced Technology package, which adds a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, a supervision gauge cluster, autonomous emergency braking, dual-heated power mirrors, forward-collision warning and lane-departure warning. The Essentials Premium package brings Smart Key keyless entry and push-button start, a cooled glove box, front- and rear-parking sensors, roof rails, leather seating, heated front seats, second- and third-row sunshades, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
For the EX, an Advanced Premium Technology package includes the contents of the LX’s Advanced Technology package and adds driver’s-seat memory and power lumbar support, an 8-way power passenger seat and heated second-row seats.
The SX trim offers the Advanced Touring package with autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, Dynamic Bending Headlights, automatic high beams, HID headlights, a 110-volt outlet, lane-departure warning, forward-collision warning, a surround-view monitor, an acoustic windshield and a heated steering wheel.
For the SXL, the Prestige package brings Nappa leather seating, reclining second-row seats with leg-rest extensions and dual-power glass sunroofs.
All trims can be outfitted with a tow hitch and a rear-seat entertainment system.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the Sedona a 5-star overall crash-test rating, while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the Sedona its highest rating of Good in all crash-test categories and names it a Top Safety Pick.
The 2018 Sedona comes with anti-lock disc brakes, stability control and six airbags (front, front side and full-length side curtain). Options include a surround-view monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning and a forward-collision warning system, autonomous emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.
Behind the Wheel
In our interior evaluation, we were impressed by the Sedona’s upscale vibe. The placement of the shifter definitely has something to do with it. Most minivans have shift levers on the dashboard, but 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 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 back-breaking task of removing the second-row seats to achieve full cargo capacity. The only letdown is the SXL’s optional lounge seats, which don’t offer Slide-N-Stow, so if you plan to haul a lot of stuff, this option probably isn’t the best fit.
On the road, the 3.3-liter V6 sounds a bit coarse at higher revolutions per minute, but in general, it’s well-behaved. Acceleration is sufficiently brisk, with fuel economy acceptable but somewhat disappointing for a relatively new model. Road noise is noticeable but stays at reasonable levels on most surfaces. We found the ride rather firm with the SXL’s 19-in wheels aboard; for optimal ride comfort, stick with the 18-in (EX and SX) or the 17-in wheels (L and LX).
Other Cars to Consider
2018 Chrysler Pacifica — The Pacifica is much sleeker-looking and offers a more powerful engine, more stylish interior and the option of plug-in hybrid model. However, a loaded Pacifica costs thousands more than a similarly equipped Sedona.
2018 Honda Odyssey — The Honda Odyssey is all new this year with more power, a larger and more versatile interior and the better fuel economy than the Sedona. Its driving dynamics and advanced safety features are highly refined.
2018 Toyota Sienna — The Sienna’s 3.5-liter V6 is the strongest and most satisfying engine in this segment, and the 2018 Sienna is the only minivan to offer all-wheel drive. Emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and automatic high beams all come standard on every Sienna.
Used Mercedes-Benz R-Class — A 2010-2015 3-row R-Class was basically a luxury minivan with four conventional doors instead of a couple of 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’ll have cloth upholstery instead of leather, so it’ll be one less thing to worry about. You also have a power driver’s seat, alloy wheels and power-sliding doors, and you can add autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and heated side mirrors while staying under the $35,000 mark.