The 2015 Kia Sedona SX-L is definitely an out-of-the-box thought for the Koreans.
Though every single writer on our team is a hardcore petrolhead, we’re all aged between 25 and 35. What this means is that despite having significant others in our lives, we haven’t quite reached the stage of our lives where we have children. As such, we tend to prefer sedans or even crossovers over the utility of the minivan. However, you the readers have reached out to us to hear our thoughts on the 2015 Kia Sedona SX-L and how it would serve as a road-tripper. We happily obliged, and decided to snag one from Kia for two types of evaluations over the course of a week. The first being how it endures a weekly grind complete with business meetings on client sites, and the second being a weekend getaway for four people to northern Ontario.
Kia’s designers have been on point over the past couple years. The recent redesigns across the Korean automaker’s lineup have been polarizing to a point of elegance without skipping a beat. The outgoing Sedona minivan was tired and aging poorly, and Kia shares the sentiment that the family hauler doesn’t need to be bland. In came the new 2015 model, with great LED daytime-running lights, styling cues unique to the latest Kia family products, and features that no other vehicle offers for this price point.
The previous-generation Sedona was propelled along by a 3.5L motor also shared with the Hyundai Entourage, a forgettable vehicle that has now been discontinued altogether. The old engine pushed out 269 horsepower and 246 lb-ft, with no direct injection. For 2015, the Sedona gets a direct-injected 3.3L V6, also seen in the 2016 Sorento as well as the Hyundai Santa Fe XL. This motor is good for 276 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque, modest increases all around. Predictably, the only available transmission is a six-speed automatic with manual shift mode.
Although the new powertrain in the Kia Sedona won’t necessarily impress in its numbers, its smoothness is undeniable. Throttle response is a bit numb, but the minivan accelerates to highway speeds with minimal effort. The transmission is on the slower side to shift, but again, minivans are not made for performance. The ride is on the softer side, and competitors such as the Chrysler Town & Country and Honda Odyssey are much firmer when absorbing road imperfections. This is purely subjective – those that prefer a softer ride should cross-shop the Sedona with the Toyota Sienna or Nissan Quest.
The Sedona’s smooth demeanour can also reflect as lazy reflexes. The steering wheel feels upscale and nice to grip, but the minivan shows its size when pushing it through corners. The Odyssey is a much more competent handler, and feels a lot more nimble. We were only able to muster an 8.0 second run to 100 km/h, and trying to shift the transmission manually doesn’t make the van feel any more lively. The Odyssey and Town & Country are both closer to 300 horsepower and handle significantly better than the Sedona.
Rather than focus their research and development efforts on performance, manufacturers typically spend their resources ensuring their minivans have the most utility. It was Honda that first introduced a third row of seats that folded flat into the floor, and Chrysler redefined the segment with their Stow’N’Go system capable of easily folding both second and third rows flat. The Kia Sedona does things slightly differently. While the third row of seating folds flat, the second row is focused on luxury rather than utility. The second row captain’s chairs are full recliners complete with small ottomans, and also slide side-to-side to join one another or separate on demand.
The unique packaging of the Sedona doesn’t stop at the rear seating arrangements. Base models of the minivan (the Sedona L) start at $27,695, and the volume selling LX comes in right around the $30,000 mark. On the LX, Kia offers 17” alloy wheels, LED lighting, Bluetooth connectivity, UVO infotainment system with SiriusXM, a reverse camera, leather-wrapped gearshift and steering wheel, and power front seats. The van is surprisingly well equipped, and all interior materials feel up to par with crossovers from Lexus and Acura that approach the $70,000 price point. Our top-trim SX-L model with the SX-L+ trim package is priced to sell at $48,044.
Despite costing nearly $50,000, it’s important to understand that the Sedona is the value seller in the minivan market. A comparably optioned Chrysler Town & Country is similarly priced, but it’s one of the most dated examples on the market today, with the current-generation going as far back as 2008. Honda Odyssey Touring is well over $50,000, and doesn’t offer quite a bit of the technology and variety of features as the Sedona. Plus, Kia is more inclined to raise their sales numbers and will likely be more flexible on their pricing.
Our SX-L tester is dressed in quite a bit of premium attire, and it goes far deeper than the chauffeur-ready back seats. The steering wheel, along with being leather-wrapped, has piano black wood trim on it. The seats (Napa leather on this SX-L+) are two tone, black and a beautiful cashmere beige, with tasteful stitching. They’re heated and ventilated, and there is a heated steering wheel on board as well. Rather than being located at the top of the center console or the steering column, the gear shifter is positioned exactly where it would be in a traditional sedan or crossover. Plenty of connectivity is on board, with two 2.1-amp USB ports in front, three 12-volt outlets, as well as two 110V AC plugs as well.
Huge selling points for the Kia Sedona include its Top Safety Pick rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), because it has received a “Good” rating in all of their testing categories. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given the Sedona the full five-star rating as well. Extremely strong safety ratings are particularly essential for minivan buyers because of how often they are used as reliable transportation for entire families. Things like blind spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert, and lane departure warning are all on board this SX-L+ model as well.
Longevity was always previously a concern with Korean products, but Kia is hoping to address this with their five-year/100,000km warranty on most components of the vehicle. Kia will also provide Sedona buyers with roadside assistance for the same duration anywhere in North America. Thankfully, I had no need to call on roadside assistance throughout my trip, on which the Sedona performed beautifully. It carried four passengers and all of our luggage effortlessly, and there was no point where I found myself longing for more.
Fuel economy is where I was worried about the Sedona. Features like the leather-lined seats and the dual fully-operational sunroofs are neat and all, but they add a considerable amount of weight. Even running on regular 87-octane fuel though, the Sedona was able to accomplish 10.6L/100km over three combined cycles. Highway mileage got as low as 10L/100km, whereas bumper-to-bumper traffic in rush hour saw as high as 14.3L/100km. These numbers are right in line with what I’ve experienced with other minivans, and I’m glad that Kia has opted to stay away from forced-induction requiring premium fuel.
The 2015 Kia Sedona SX-L is definitely an out-of-the-box thought for the Koreans. I have no doubt in my mind that if the Hyundai Entourage were still alive, it would share the underpinnings of the Sedona with exterior design that reflects Hyundai’s beautiful current design language. The Sedona offers everything its competitors do, and then some, at a price point that undercuts every single one of those competitors. The upcoming redesign of the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country should provide an interesting new contender in the shrinking minivan segment, but until then, the Kia Sedona will remain a favourite.