OK, let's face it: Nobody really gets excited about having to budget expenses. For most of us with families, it's just a fact of life. Our spending habits evolve quite abruptly after the initial sticker shock of pregnancy (maternity clothes, medical bills, cribs, strollers, car seats, diapers, formula and on and on and on). If I had it my way, I'd buy that $100 pair of designer jeans as opposed to the $20 Old Navy ones I settle for. I buy the cheap toilet paper that's almost as soft as sandpaper, the generic Cheerios that taste like cardboard, and I've even sacrificed my favorite anti-wrinkle, anti-sun, anti-given-birth-twice-and-haven't-slept-well-in-nights preventative maintenance miracle face elixir for plain old drug-store SPF. Aahh, motherhood!
Forty percent of parents also end up buying a new car as a new baby arrives. Why stop with the budgeting there? Sure, I'd like to indulge in the latest and greatest minivan with six standard airbags, electronic stability control, traction control, a tire pressure monitoring system, rear windows that actually roll up and down, a built-in mirror to keep an eye on my kids in back and a thoughtful place to stash my purse so it doesn't take up the passenger's seat. But who can afford all that, other than DINKS (dual income no kids)?
Stop the presses! The minivan I'm describing is the new 2006 Kia Sedona, with a base MSRP of $22,995. That's right, baby! We can have our cake and eat it too. Kia managed to take some of our favorite features from pricier minivans and roll them into one budget-friendly, family-friendly, mom-and-dad-friendly vehicle.
You're not going to get luxurious, techie-gadget-guru heaven for that price, but nobody actually uses all those fancy-pants features anyway. What you will get is functionality, functionality and, oh, did I mention functionality? From the driver's seat, six cupholders are within easy reach, plus additional bottle holders molded into the door with a cute little embossed bottle graphic just in case you don't know what goes in there. Does Kia spare no expense?
The center console is table-like, folding down and out of the way when quick passage to the rear is necessary. Two glove boxes, a CD case holder and a sunglass compartment are also accessible to store your stuff. Two ceiling vents in the second row and two more in the third row keep backseat drivers comfy. The rear climate settings can be controlled by the driver, or can be switched over for control by one of the rear passengers.
Standard captain's chairs with easily accessible Latch connectors in the second row keep fighting siblings separated. The space between them allows for passage to the third row for little people who can walk between the two seats, saving me the hassle of folding one of them. The third row (with a 60/40 split) reclines slightly for napping on road trips and also folds flat into the floor when extra storage is needed. Although it requires a two-step process to fold the seats, I absolutely love the clearly labeled pull tabs, "To fold/lift seatback" and "To stow/use," keeping the guessing game out of it.
Oh no. Here comes that darn devil's advocate again. Despite the well-thought-out features in the 2006 Kia Sedona, its budget-conscious roots are still prevalent. A prominence of plastic within the base level LX model marks up and scratches easily, and wind/road noise isn't filtered out very thoroughly, making the car sound cheap.
Despite the withdrawals that come with sticking to the family's budget, overall the Kia Sedona is a great way for growing families to get the function they desire in a minivan without breaking the bank. Save a little on your next car purchase and maybe you can splurge on those $100 jeans after all.
*For more information on the Kia Sedona and its safety features, visit www.cars.com.
LET'S TALK NUMBERS
LATCH Connectors: 2
Seating Capacity (includes driver): 7
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample - Galore
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Excellent
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Some
Cars.com Expert Reviews
|Jim Flammang||Cars.com National||May 2, 2005|
|Warren Brown||washingtonpost.com||June 4, 2006|
|Mark Glover||The Sacramento Bee||June 2, 2006|
|Dan Neil||Los Angeles Times||May 31, 2006|
|Kristin Varela||Mother Proof||May 22, 2006|
|G. Chambers Williams III||Star-Telegram.com||March 16, 2006|
|Anita Lienert||The Detroit Newspapers||February 8, 2006|
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