Kia has been on a roll, introducing a succession of important new models. The most recent addition is the Sedona, the first minivan from the South Korean automaker to reach the U.S. market. Introduced at the New York Auto Show in April 2001, the Sedona went on sale in summer 2001. Serving as the automakers fourth introduction in the past two years, Kia considers this minivan to be its most important new product in the United States since the Sportage sport utility vehicle.
Following the lead of its other models, Kia promotes the front-wheel-drive Sedonas price and value, along with what has been called its class-leading array of exclusive features. Kias Long Haul Warranty covers the powertrain for 10 years or 100,000 miles. During the first year of production, the company expects to make about 25,000 minivans available to dealerships.
Kias minivan breaks no new ground in styling, so its similar to the competition. Sleek and integrated in appearance, the Sedona has a character line down its sides. A long, sloping hood leads into a horizontal-bar grille that sits between multireflector headlights, and body-colored bumpers, mirrors and bodyside moldings are installed.
Dual sliding side doors are standard. The step-up EX model adds a body-colored roof rack and defogger-equipped mirrors, fog lights and alloy wheels, as well as additional chrome body trim.
The Sedona seats seven occupants with bucket seats in the first and second rows and a split bench in the third row. Second- and third-row seats slide fore and aft and can be reclined and removed. Child-seat anchors are installed in the second row. An overhead console is standard, the instrument panel contains a storage bin and seatbacks hold map pockets. The standard eight-way power drivers seat features lumbar support.
Standard LX equipment includes dual air conditioning, twin glove boxes, power windows, battery-saver circuitry, cruise control, a tilt steering wheel, tachometer, six-speaker cassette stereo, four power access points, an intermittent rear wiper/washer and rear privacy glass. The EX model adds such extras as four captains chairs, woodgrain instrument-panel trim, lighted vanity mirrors, a keyless entry system, cassette/CD stereo system with two extra tweeters, and a folding table. Ten cupholders are installed in the EX, compared to only eight in the LX model. Power window switches in the EX allow the driver and third-row passengers to open or close the rear quarter windows.
Only a handful of options will be offered, including a power tilt/slide moonroof, two-tone body cladding, leather upholstery and a programmable garage-door opener.
Under the Hood
The Sedona carries a 3.5-liter dual-overhead-cam V-6 engine that develops 195 horsepower. Kia claims it has the largest-displacement engine available in an import-brand minivan. The V-6 runs on regular gasoline and drives a five-speed-automatic transmission. When Kia introduced the Sedona in 2001, the automaker claimed the five-speed was the only such installation in a minivan, but the 2002 Honda Odyssey has a similar transmission.
Dual front airbags are standard, but side-impact airbags are not available. Antilock brakes are available as an option, but only on the EX model. Child-safety seat anchors are installed in the second row.
Comfortable, smooth-riding, refined and energetic, the new Sedona scores high in each important minivan attribute. Taken as a whole, the Sedona ranks as top-notch all around even if it doesnt reach far above the pack in any specific category. Add its modest sticker price, and Kia clearly has another high-value model to be reckoned with. Kia developers probably peered closely at the competition and wound up with a strong contender for minivan sales.
The Sedona takes off in a hurry. Even when trudging up long grades, the V-6 pulls the minivan along effortlessly. The five-speed-automatic transmission responds smoothly, with only moderate delay when a downshift is needed. The Sedona is exceptionally quiet and handles predictably. Not only is steering pleasantly precise, but its also an easy vehicle to drive. Plenty of helpful storage compartments are provided.
The seats are comfortable, with plenty of space all around, but the second-row seats are a bit hard. On the down side, getting into the drivers seat isnt quite as easy as in some minivans, unless the seat is pushed back. The sliding side door on our test-drive model also proved to be balky. With an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 15 mpg city and 20 mpg highway, gas mileage lags behind the competition. But those are about the only quibbles that have emerged for Kias appealing, if unexceptional, new model.