Kia’s top value Sedona minivan

Published 8:46 am Monday, March 2, 2009

Driving by a local elementary school in the morning a few days ago, we were amazed to see a bumper-to-bumper stream of minivans and SUVs, pulling through the designated delivery driveway. It was like watching an assembly line — the vehicle pulls up, children climb onto the sidewalk and the vehicle pulls forward. Of the approximately 50 vehicles in the line, more than half were minivans and nearly all the rest were SUVs except for a couple of cars. Evidently minivans are still popular with soccer moms in our area.

Every time we drive a Kia, we walk away impressed by the quality and value this company has been able to produce in such a short time. Kia has only been building cars since the 1970s and it did not come to the U.S. until 1992, and that was with only one car, the Sephia. Now Kia has 11 models ranging from economy cars to SUVs to the Sedona minivan that we recently drove.

While most manufacturers have settled on producing one full-size minivan, Kia still makes a short wheelbase (SWB) and long wheelbase (LWB) version that is about a foot longer. Both vans have standard seven-passenger seating, but the LWB has 32.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row seating compared to 12.9 cubic feet of the SWB. When the duty shifts from hauling passengers to cargo, the third row folds into the floor and the two rear captain’s chairs can be removed to create a flat cargo floor.

With its steep hood and minivan-style side, the Sedona will not win any prizes for unique styling, but neither will any other minivans – it is hard to make a box distinctive. The interior has a bit more flare with a functionally organized dash and center stack. We like that all the controls are clustered, including the shifter, high on the center stack and the peninsula that extends into the cockpit. The interior is loaded with handy storage compartments in the doors, dash and under the floor.

A 250-hp, 3.8-liter DOHC V-6 powers all versions of the Sedona and drives the front wheels through a five-speed automatic transmission. Where the Sedona starts to excel is with the standard safety equipment, which includes stability control, four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock, electronic brake distribution and brake assist along with tire pressure monitoring and traction control. The Sedona accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in about 8.0 seconds. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 16 mpg city and 23 mpg on the highway. Our actual average during our week behind the wheel was 21.1 mpg.

Sedona pricing starts as low as $21,790, including the destination charge, for the SWB version and the LWB EX starts at $27,290. With all the options, the price can go up to about $33,000.

Our top-of-the-line EX test vehicle was equipped with the three major option packages: Luxury Package (leather seat trim, heated front seats, driver’s seat memory, sunroof, backup warning and several other features) — $2,400; Premium Entertainment Package (rear DVD player with eight-inch monitor and Infinity surround sound) — $1,700; and Power Package (power sliding doors and rear lift gate) — $1,000.

Like nearly every Kia we have driven the last few years, we walked away amazed with the quality and value. Sedona ratings and awards include a “Good” rating by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a five-star crash safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), being named “Best Minivan” by the MotorWeek TV program and topping Strategic Vision’s Total Quality Index (TQI) survey.

The Sedona is comfortable, responsive and well built making it a vehicle to test drive if you are shopping for something to carry a bunch of people or cargo.