Kia is among the small lot of Korean automakers that have changed the mind set of American consumers about how much quality they could expect for a value price. Now the original 2002 Kia Sedona minivan played a big part in doing that. Kia’s first U.S. minivan quickly gave chase to the industry’s best. Now, for 2006, there is an all new Sedona. Bigger and more powerful, this Sedona packs more family-pleasing punch than ever. But is this re-do enough to make Kia a minivan leader?
It’s not easy to move to the front of the minivan segment. But even at first glance it’s clear that the second generation 2006 Kia Sedona is a major improvement over its predecessor.
With a longer, wider stance, the all-new Sedona provides about 15% more passenger room than last year. Yet designers did not overdose on the “bigger is better” theme. The 118.9-inch wheelbase and 202-inch overall length are within range of class leaders. Exterior sheet metal follows the traditional, conservative two-box formula, with clean flanks and a slightly sloping roof line. Our top-level EX-grade test vehicle rides on 17-inch alloy wheels with P235/60 all-weather tires, and standard tire pressure monitoring
Like the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna, the sliding side doors now include power down windows, while the EX’s Power Package adds power assist to the sliders as well as a power rear hatch.
Like the styling, the Sedona’s drive train looks pretty typical, a 3.8-liter V6. But this is a premium twin-cam, variable-valve timing engine. Similar to the one used in Hyundai’s flagship Azera sedan, it yields 244 horsepower and class leading 253 pound-feet of torque.
Mated to a smooth 5-speed automatic transaxle, the Sedona powers to 60 miles-per-hour in a fine 8.3 seconds, and through the quarter mile in 16.5 seconds at 85 miles-per-hour. There is even a manual shifter mode for those who fantasize about a minivan racing series.
The drivetrain also features fine EPA mileage ratings of 18 city/25 highway. Our mixed test loop delivered a reasonable 20 miles-per-gallon.
But it is interior amenities that make or break any family van, and Sedona delivers with much improved levels of fit, finish and value. The airy 7-passenger cabin has a handsome, tasteful look, with quality plastics and nice faux wood trim.
Occupant safety is top notch, thanks to standard front side impact airbags, plus side curtain airbags for all three rows.
Our EX model was complete with standard 8-way power adjustments for the driver’s seat, plus optional leather upholstery with front seat heat. The luxury package also includes power adjustable pedals. But convenience features like a folding front row table, conversation mirror for keeping track of the kids, and a total of 14 cupholders, are all standard.
The second row Captain’s chairs flip and fold for third row access, or can be removed entirely. The process is not as convenient as Chrysler’s fold into the floor Stow ‘n Go seats, but it’s no worse than other competitors.
Today’s families expect personalized climate controls, and Sedona has fans and controls for all three rows of seats. The optional luxury package also includes automatic temperature settings.
A premium entertainment equipment package includes AM/FM/Cassette with CD/MP3 player and 660 Watt Infinity Surround Sound System. Second and third row passengers can enjoy a DVD player with a big 8 inch screen and remote control.
Speaking of the third row, the expected “fold into the floor” 60/40 split bench is heavier and doesn’t work as smoothly as on the Odyssey or Sienna, but it does the job. Cargo space is 32.2 cubic feet behind the third row, 80.1 cubic feet behind the second, and 141.5 with all seats out of the way.
On our handling course we found the Sedona to be competent if ordinary. A soft suspension and slow steering are offset by standard Electronic Stability Control that keeps Sedona stable and safe. But after all, it is a minivan, not a mini Cooper!
Braking was short and secure, with stops from 60 averaging a very good 120 feet. Four-wheel discs, ABS, and Electronic Brake Distribution are all standard.
All in all, quite a lot of minivan starting at only $23,665 for the LX grade, and $26,265 for the up-level EX. Add in our test van’s options, and the sticker totals a still modest $31,365. Given that this also includes Kia’s exceptional 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty, we find the Sedona to be an excellent minivan value.
When introduced for 2002, the first Sedona signaled that Kia was much more than just a small car builder. Now, with solid engineering, great safety and versatility, the 2006 Sedona puts Kia among the leaders in the very demanding minivan segment.
Engine: 3.8-Liter V6
Torque: 253 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 8.3 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 16.5 Seconds @ 85 MPH
EPA: 18 MPG City/25 MPG Highway