The 2016 Kia Sedona is a viable alternative to the four top-selling minivans, with a quiet and spacious interior, a very comfortable high-end seating option, a smooth ride, and a modern infotainment system.
With its 2015 redesign, the Kia Sedona became much more competitive in terms of space, functionality, and refinement, and the 2016 model only adds features, including a standard rearview camera. Kia has grown the Sedona so it's sized more like the top sellers. It's somewhat shy on flexibility and ultimate interior space, but it's close enough to be a good substitute. The Odyssey has more cubic feet of passenger space, but it's arguable whether the Kia or the Honda has more comfortable front seats. The Sedona doesn't offer stow-away second-row seats like the Chryslers, but it has a sliding seat system that moves the middle row into a compact space, freeing up lots of storage capacity. On the most expensive model, it swaps those for a pair of airline-style lounge chairs with excellent comfort—the future airport or adult-living shuttle. As for the third row, it's somewhat smaller than that of some rivals, but is split 60/40 and folds flat into the floor.
While automakers are rushing headlong into niches such as compact crossovers and coupe-like sedans, they're not exactly pushing for what's become more of a niche than it used to be: minivans. Over the past few years, the class has pretty much settled down to the big four sellers—Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Chrysler Pacifica, and Dodge Grand Caravan, followed by outliers like the Nissan Quest and Sedona.
The engine is the same 3.3-liter V-6 found in the Cadenza sedan and Sorento crossover, both of which weigh considerably less than the Sedona. Power is adequate with two or three passengers aboard, and the 276-horsepower V-6 runs very smoothly behind lots of layers of sound deadening. A 6-speed automatic moves the power to the front wheels (only the Sienna offers all-wheel drive). The available electric power steering is quick and well tuned, but it's only offered on the top trim level; we haven't sampled lower-line Sedonas. Ride quality is excellent, even with the top model's 19-inch wheels, but when it's pressed the Sedona can't hide any of its considerable weight of at least 4,414 pounds.
With a healthy dose of high-strength steel in the body, the Sedona posts top-tier crash-test ratings. Kia also includes Bluetooth and a rearview camera on all models, but a surround-view cameras—which we love—are limited to the most expensive model.
The Sedona takes no risks in styling. The Kia family grille fits well on the Sedona's big front end and creates a clean look. There's no mistaking the minivan profile, but some of the size is disguised by the uptick in the shoulder line—the inverse of Honda's lowered "lightning bolt." The Sedona's cabin is downright charming, with its horizontally laid-out instrument panel, its two-tone looks, and the quality materials applied to its surfaces.
Among the available features are a smart tailgate that opens the hatch when the keyfob is detected in close proximity for three seconds, and a dual-compartment glove box with a cooled lower area. The UVO infotainment system includes app capability from iTunes and Google Play (including compatibility with Pandora, iHeartRadio, and Yelp) plus SiriusXM Travel Link information on traffic, weather, fuel prices, and more. It also uses Siri Eyes Free connectivity and Google Local Search systems to help find and navigate to points of interest. The Sedona gets Kia's first high-power USB charging port, and there's a 115-volt AC outlet on some trims, too—a combo that all but obviates the need for a factory-installed rear-seat entertainment system.
As is the case with the Odyssey and Sienna, many of the most desirable features are bundled into the top trim level, which costs more than $40,000. Base versions start at about $27,000, but we think the sweet spot is the $33,595 Sedona EX, which comes with power sliding side doors, a power tailgate, eight-passenger seating, keyless ignition, and leather seats.
Interestingly, different trims of the Sedona have different EPA ratings. The base van runs at 18 mpg city, 24 highway, 20 combined, according to the EPA. The heaviest and most opulent version of the Sedona earns 17/22/19 mpg, according to the EPA, despite having the same powertrain.