Somehow Kia has managed to build a minivan that looks and drives like a midsize crossover, with very little compromise in utility. The 2016 Kia Sedona offers comfortable seating for up to eight, spirited performance and attractive styling that will have the neighbors asking why you traded in the old minivan for an SUV.
The 2016 Kia Sedona stretches the visual concept of the minivan to the point where even the trained eye can easily place the 142-cubic foot minivan in the wrong segment. The sliding rear doors and resultant door tracks are a dead giveaway, but coming and going results in visuals not dissimilar to that of Kia’s handsome midsize Sorento SUV.
The front-wheel drive 2016 Kia Sedona is powered by a 3.3-liter V6 engine and shifting is courtesy of a six-speed automatic transmission. Aside from the addition of a standard rearview camera, the Sedona sees few changes when compared with the fully redesigned 2015 model. The Sedona is available with seating for seven or eight and can be purchased in five trim levels: L, LX, EX, SX and SXL.
Straying from the segment’s typical styling formula, the 2016 Kia Sedona is an incredibly practical minivan dressed up as a sporty midsize SUV. Up front an attractive grille anchors the signature headlights to create an eye-catching fascia with a tiny hint of aggression. The Sedona’s hood is longer than what’s typical for a minivan, and the front fenders provide a flavor of sport and energy rarely found in the class. The gently raked windshield flows nicely into the Sedona’s roofline at an angle that suggests casual off-roader verses traditional grocery-getter. The roofline then terminates into an oversized a rear spoiler, which shades a rear hatch area that includes an optional bumper finisher modeled after something you would find on a purpose built rally car.
The top line of the side windows follows the gentle flow of the roof, accentuating the motion with a bright chrome trim piece. The bottom line of the side windows ditches the reflective metal strip and takes an aesthetically pleasing turn northward after the rear door. The design comes together to give the Sedona a hint of forward motion while stationary, which is quite a feat for the segment. If it wasn’t for the bookend door handles and deep sliding rear door track, very little would distinguish Kia’s minivan from many of today’s midsize crossovers.
My top-trim Sedona SXL included attractive projection fog lights and LED positioning lamps, the aforementioned unique front and rear bumpers and trim, heated outside mirrors and a hands-free power liftgate. My SXL was missing the dual sunroofs that are standard for the trim level. Instead, they were deleted in favor of a rear entertainment system.
The 2016 Sedona’s cabin is spacious and comfortable. The truth is, very few vehicles can offer the roomy interior and convenience of a minivan. The driving position is nice and high, providing excellent visibility and a sense of authority on the road. The seats are finely bolstered, but certainly favor comfort over sport.
The standard tricot material found in the lower trim levels is designed to resist stains and hold up well over time. EX and SX models get leather-trimmed seats that bump up the level of luxury and provide easier cleanup.
My SXL model review vehicle employed yards and yards of an optional, attractive supple two-tone leather, which replaced the standard Nappa leather normally found in the SXL trim. Together with the ample soft-touch surfaces and attractive wood-grain and metallic accent trim, the SXL exudes a level of luxury that will have you second guessing not only the 8-seat vehicle’s segment, but the non-luxury nameplate as well.
Unlike the majority of minivans in the segment, the Sedona sacrifices a little cargo space and provides a true center console, complete with a gear shifter located where it ought to be as opposed to sticking out of the dashboard at a strange angle. For my tastes, I’d happily give up a few inches of storage for the SUV-inspired look and layout of the Sedona’s interior.
Personal preferences aside, buying a minivan is largely about utility. Unfortunately, the Sedona’s good looks do result in a slight compromise in that area. While still in the ballpark of what many major competitors offer, total cargo space is ranked last in the segment. That said, Kia has gone to lengths to maximize the utility of all 142 cubic feet, and even after a week, the Sedona feels just as big as almost any other vehicle it its class except perhaps the cavernous Toyota Sienna, which bests the Sedona with 8 additional cubic feet of cargo space.
The large size and comfortable nature of Kia’s minivan betrays the power and acceleration that it provides. The 3.3-liter V6 engine produces a healthy 276 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque, supplying the Sedona with plenty of power and 3,500 pounds of towing capacity. Excellent midrange torque results in meaningful acceleration when you need it.
The Sedona makes a nice highway cruiser, entrance ramps are easily swallowed up and high-speed passing is drama-free. Zero to 60 mph zips by in an impressive 7.4 seconds.
Driving dynamics are excellent for a larger vehicle, especially in typical day-to-day situations. Sudden avoidance emergency maneuvers will never be the strong point of a vehicle in this segment and the Sedona is no exception, but handling is quite excellent for a people and stuff mover. It only requires a few minutes behind the wheel to make you forget you’re driving what Kia calls a ‘multipurpose vehicle’ and your senses will tell you that the Sedona has much more in common with driving a midsize crossover than a private charter bus. I’ve driven both extensively, I would know.
Higher trim levels are equipped with three selectable drive modes: Normal, Comfort and Eco. The Comfort mode gently reduces steering effort, while the Eco mode reduces transmission and throttle response to improve efficiency.
Fuel economy is about average for the segment, but drops significantly in the highest SXL trim level. L, LX, and EX trims earn a respectable 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. The SX trim does one better at 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. And then there is the vehicle that I reviewed, the luxurious SXL trim. The added weight of the optional equipment takes a toll at the pump, and gas mileage drops to 17 mpg city and 22 mpg highway. These numbers are more in line with a midsize SUV than a minivan.
Kia strives to offer excellent technology packages at an affordable price. Bluetooth connectivity comes standard, as does satellite radio and a touch-screen audio system. Additional standard technology features include steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, a USB port and a rearview camera.
The Sedona EX gains Kia’s proprietary UVO eServices infotainment system. USB 2.1 charging ports accommodate larger tablets and power hungry devices. An auto-dimming rearview mirror includes a HomeLink wireless control system that can operate garage doors or any other RF devices. EX and above trim levels also include push-button start.
SX models are fitted with an easy-to-read 8-inch touch-screen display, as well as a voice-command navigation system that works well and offers visual and audible prompts that are among the best available by any manufacturer. I was equally impressed with the eight-speaker Infinity surround-sound system. MP3 audio sounds full and rich and even the tinny satellite radio comes across satisfactorily. A convenient and tech-friendly 115-volt power inverter is located in the center console, providing juice for entertainment devices that simply won’t plug into a USB port. A supervision meter cluster with a 3.5-inch color display adds important information to the gauge panel. Blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert are also included.
SXL models add parking assist and a surround view monitor that takes the rearview camera to another level, offering a clear 360 degree visual around the minivan. My review vehicle also included an optional $1,095 rear seat entertainment system with a pop-up screen and DVD player mounted in the center console.
The 2016 Kia Sedona received a top five-star overall score from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Stability and traction control systems, anti-lock brakes and a tire pressure monitoring system are standard, while a suite of air bags and seatbelt pretensioners work to keep occupants safe in a collision. SX and SXL models also include a comprehensive vehicle stability management system. Active safety technology features are found on midgrade and upper level trims. EX models offer optional blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert, both of which are standard on SX and SXL trims.
My top-trim SXL included the $1,800 SXL 8 Passenger Technology package, which adds a long list of safety features including xenon HID headlamps with high-beam assist, lane departure and forward collision warning systems, a surround view monitor and adaptive cruise control.
With a base price of $26,400 for a nicely equipped 2016 Sedona L, Kia’s minivan represents excellent value in the segment, significantly underpricing the best-selling Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey. I have spent significant amounts of time in all three minivans and while each excels in certain areas, the 2016 Kia Sedona holds its own in the segment in terms of fit, finish and driving dynamics.
Even the loaded top-trim SXL that I spent a week with displays excellent value in the class. There are a couple minivans that are priced a little lower at their highest trim level, but neither offer the extensive features of the comparable Sedona.
Pricing for the SXL starts at $39,900. My review vehicle included the $1,800 SXL 8 Passenger Technology package and the $1,095 rear seat entertainment system for a grand total of $43,690 including an $895.00 freight charge.
The only apparent financial downside in owning Sedona’s SXL model is the mediocre gas mileage. Perhaps it is due to the SUV-inspired exterior and heavy load of options, but the Kia loses three mpg highway to the Sienna and a truly significant 6 mpg highway to the Odyssey. If a nicely trimmed Sedona is in your future, my recommendation would be to investigate and see if the SX model will fit your needs. You will miss out on what Kia refers to as “first-class lounge seating” and a few other features, but the significantly better gas mileage and lower base price make the Sedona SX an excellent value.
The attractively styled 2016 Kia Sedona offers excellent value in a competitive minivan segment, providing more standard and optional features at a significantly lower price point than many of its comparably equipped competitors. If you’re in the market for a minivan, and the segment’s stigma is keeping you from taking the plunge, the Sedona’s styling and performance may be enough to alleviate the anxiety of having a minivan parked in the driveway.