Given the popularity of seven-seat SUVs you might think the minivan is dead, but Kia’s all-new Sedona is an excellent example of why this segment remains viable even if today’s annual sales are only about 40 percent of their high in 2000.
In 2000 there were 21 minivan models, and total sales were 1.37 million. Today there are seven brands, and sales seem to have settled at about 500,000 a year. In my opinion, a minivan is still one of the most versatile single vehicles there is because of the way it can haul people and things, but then, I’m from an older generation than most of today’s families.
Kia’s design, under the direction of former Audi stylist Peter Schreyer, is fresh and crisp. The Sedona is available in seven- or eight-passenger configurations and five trim levels with base prices ranging from $25,900 to $39,700.
The Sedona’s well-drawn proportions and subtle details give it an on-road presence more like that of a crossover utility vehicle, and the top SX Limited that I drove had the same Nappa leather found in the K900 luxury sedan plus most of the creature comforts and driving aids that one finds in a luxury sedan. Its sticker price was $43,295.
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I was impressed with the test vehicle’s long list of safety items, such as stability control, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitor, brake assist, rollover mitigation, forward collision warning, rear cross-traffic alert and cornering brake control.
Kia’s UVO telematics system connects to your smartphone and will mark the location of the vehicle when you park. No more searching crowded parking lots. Apps such as Siri Eyes Free, Pandora, iHeart Radio and Yelp are also available.
The second-row captain’s seats slide on tracks to ease entry to the third seat but they also fold upright and slide forward, creating a large, flat load floor without having to remove the seats. When the second-row seats are positioned rearward, lower-leg rests can be unfolded for chaise-lounge seating.
The seats of the test vehicle were hard to slide, presumably because of the rubber covering on the tracks.
The split-folding third-row seat collapses into the floor when needed. Four carry-on-bags will fit in the luggage well behind the third seat.
The 3.3-liter V-6 that is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission has 276 horsepower. It had more than enough power to carry six people comfortably. Wind and road noise were muted nicely, in part because of sound-deadening in the engine compartment, double-sealed sliding doors and padding around the wheel wells.
The Sedona’s independent rear suspension and adjustable dampers do a good job of providing a compliant ride with handling that feels more like a utility vehicle than a minivan.
Spending a week with the SX Limited made me realize that minivans have plenty of appeal and are still useful in a time when they are often overshadowed by SUVs.
The base price of the SX Limited is $39,700. Options included the technology package of lane-departure warning, high-intensity headlights, forward collision warning, surround view monitor and smart cruise control. The sticker price was $43,295.
Five years or 60,000 miles with a 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Tom Strongman’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
2015 Kia Sedona SX Limited
Engine: 3.3-liter, 276-horsepower V-6
Transmission: Six-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Wheelbase: 120.5 inches
Curb weight: 4,539 pounds
Base price: $39,700
As driven: $43,295
MPG rating: 17 in the city, 22 on the highway