The minivan is today’s station wagon, and while many jokes have been made about this much-maligned mode of transportation, the fact remains that families with children often end up with a minivan at some point in the kids’ growth curve.
The segment has been dominated by Chrysler, Honda and Toyota for decades, but there are a few others at the party and none are doing it better than Kia, which replaced its tepid Sedona last year with a muscular redesigned model that borrows much from the SUV/crossover segment. The 2016 Kia Sedona is largely a carryover from the fully redesigned 2015 model, and therefore boasts the same driver-focused dash design, crisp exterior styling and a van load of versatility. Add Kia’s value pricing and the Sedona becomes a compelling addition to anyone’s minivan shopping list.
The 2016 Sedona’s crossover SUV-like style helps set it apart from the rest of the minivan segment.
Kia knows a lot of buyers skip over minivans because three-row crossovers simply look and feel cooler, so the Sedona is a novel attempt to meet them halfway. If you’re sensitive to the stigma associated with diaper-toting minivan ownership, perhaps this Kia will make you think twice. At heart, of course, the Sedona is still a minivan. But it offers some nifty features, including the SXL model’s lounge-style second-row seats with generous slide-and-recline adjustments, lateral sliding ability and extendable leg rests. In all other trims, the second-row seats collapse upright behind the front row to facilitate cargo-carrying and third-row access, an interesting solution that eliminates the common minivan chore of removing those heavy chairs. On the other hand, maximum cargo capacity suffers as a result, leaving the Sedona marginally behind its main rivals.
Those are well-established rivals, starting with the Honda Odyssey, which wins in fuel economy but carries a steeper price. The Toyota Sienna runs neck and neck with the Odyssey in most respects (though its SE trim is arguably the best minivan to drive), but the Sedona is again likely to be the better value. While the Dodge Grand Caravan has its slick Stow ‘n Go seats and attractive pricing, the van’s overall quality pales in comparison to the Kia’s. A dark-horse candidate would be the quirky Nissan Quest if cargo space isn’t a high priority. Overall, we think the 2016 Kia Sedona is right in the mix of the segment’s heavies, and should hold particular appeal to those seeking an antidote to soul-sucking minivan-itis.
The 2016 Kia Sedona minivan is offered in five trim levels: L, LX, EX, SX and SX-L (Limited). Seven-passenger seating is standard for the L. Eight-passenger seating (three-across seating for the second row) is standard for the LX and EX. The SX and SX-L revert back to a seven-passenger configuration but can be optioned for eight.
The L starts with 17-inch alloy wheels, dual manual sliding doors, manual front seats with a driver height adjustment, Slide-n-Stow forward-collapsing second-row seats, a split-folding third-row seat, stain-resistant fabric upholstery, dual gloveboxes, air-conditioning with rear controls, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, a USB port and a media player interface.
The LX adds LED headlight accents, power-folding exterior mirrors, roof rails, tinted rear windows, a rearview camera, an eight-way power driver seat (with two-way power lumbar), two extra speakers for the audio system and a 4.3-inch touchscreen with voice controls and Kia’s Uvo eServices emergency communications.
The EX adds 18-inch alloys, foglights, heated mirrors, an adjustable-height power liftgate, power sliding doors, keyless ignition and entry, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a refrigerated lower glovebox, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, tri-zone automatic climate control, rear sunshades, two extra USB ports and an eight-speaker Infinity audio system with HD radio.
The SX throws in LED taillights, an upgraded gauge cluster, four-way driver power lumbar, driver memory settings, an eight-way power passenger seat, heated second-row seats, ventilated front seats, selectable drive modes (affecting transmission shift points and steering weight), a 115-volt power outlet, an 8-inch touchscreen, a navigation system, voice controls and a blind spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alert.
The SX-L tops the range with 19-inch wheels, dual power sunroofs, front and rear parking sensors, a heated steering wheel, upgraded leather upholstery and second-row lounge seats with airplane-style winged headrests and extendable leg rests.
The Sedona’s front row is exceptionally attractive, with a two-tone dashboard and upholstery and easy-to-use center stack controls.
A few of the higher trims’ standard features can be added to the lower trim levels via two options packages. The LX Convenience package adds the refrigerated glovebox, heated front seats, power sliding doors, a 4.3-inch screen with Uvo, a rearview camera and rear sunshades. The EX Premium package adds four-way driver lumbar, driver memory functions, the power front passenger seat, heated first- and second-row seats and the blind spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alerts.
Offered only on the SX and SXL is the Technology package, which adds xenon headlights with automatic high beam control, a surround-view parking camera system, a lane departure warning system, adaptive cruise control, a forward collision warning system and an additional 115-volt power outlet in the cargo area. The Technology package must be ordered to add eight-person seating to the SX and SXL models.
Notable stand-alone options on all trims include a tow hitch and a rear seat entertainment system with a single flip-up screen mounted on the back of the center console.
A 3.3-liter V6 engine rated at 276 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque powers the 2016 Sedona. The transmission is a six-speed automatic and all Sedonas employ front-wheel drive. With the optional hitch installed, the Sedona can tow up to 3,500 pounds. In Edmunds testing of a Sedona SX-L, we recorded a 0-60 mph time of 7.9 seconds. Essentially, the Sedona’s acceleration is average for its class.
The Sedona’s 0-60-mph time of 7.9 seconds is average for a minivan.
The EPA’s fuel economy estimates stand at 20 mpg combined (18 city/24 highway) for the L, LX and EX trims, which is about average for this class but not impressive for a new model. The SX improves to 21 mpg combined (18/25), reportedly because of its electric power steering system, which lightens the engine’s workload. Meanwhile, the SX-L drops to a subpar 19 mpg combined (17/22) despite sharing that steering system, a deficit partly explained by the extra 100 or so pounds it carries.
Standard safety features for all 2016 Kia Sedona models include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, hill start assist, active front headrests, rear parking sensors, front seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags.
Available electronic aids, depending on trim, include a rearview camera, surround-view camera, front and rear parking sensors, a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alerts, a lane departure warning system and a forward collision warning system (without automatic braking). The optional Uvo service includes automatic crash notification and special monitoring services for secondary drivers (including speed-, location- and curfew-limit alerts).
In government crash testing, the Sedona earned a top five-star rating for its overall crash protection, with five stars for total front-impact safety and five stars for total side-impact safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Sedona its highest rating of “Good” for both small- and moderate-overlap frontal-crash tests, as well as for side-impact, roof-strength and seats/head restraints design (whiplash protection).
During Edmunds testing, a Kia Sedona SX-L stopped from 60 mph in a short 119 feet, though a subsequent test of another SX-L resulted in a more typical-for-the-class 125 feet.
The 2016 Sedona has possibly the most memorable first row of any minivan, with classy-looking gauges and buttons on the dashboard and a full center console between the front seats. The console-mounted shift lever is easier to use than the dash-mounted shifters in other full-size minivans. That’s the crossover feel that Kia was going for, and it certainly sets the Sedona apart. On the downside, though, you lose out on extra potential storage possibilities that you would get with a minivan with an open console area.
Seat comfort is good in all three rows, with adult-size space even in the way back. The available eight-passenger layout is achieved by the addition of a second-row middle seat that can “Slide-n-Stow” forward with the outboard chairs or be removed when not in use. This seat’s backrest also folds forward to serve as a second-row armrest with two integrated cupholders.
The SX-L’s lounge-style captain’s chairs offer more maximum legroom than the Sienna’s similar seats, allowing an average-size passenger to stretch out on the extendable leg rest; taller passengers, however, will find that the front seatback prevents such an indulgence. Notably, the SX-L seats lack Slide-n-Stow functionality, so this trim level is more about carrying people than stuff.
Second row captain’s chairs feature adjustable headrests and an extendable leg rest.
The Sedona provides 33.9 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third-row seat and a healthy 78.4 cubes with the rear seats folded into the floor. Beware that the strap-actuated folding process requires a bit of muscle. It’s a little easier to flip the Slide-n-Stow second-row seats into their collapsed forward position, opening up 142 cubic feet of space in every trim except the SX-L (which loses an unspecified but significant amount due to its fixed lounge chairs). The Sienna and Odyssey provide 150 and 148 cubes, respectively, but only if you remove the heavy second-row seats. Kia figured most minivan owners would trade 6-8 cubic feet for the added convenience.