Review: 2015 Kia Sedona SXL

Review: 2015 Kia Sedona SXL

As minivans go, sexy is usually not an apt adjective to use when describing one. In the case of the 2015 Kia Sedona SXL, while we might not say it’s sexy, it may register a “damn good looking,” instead.

Totally made over for 2015, we examine one of the new prime movers in the minivan segment. Right out of the starting blocks, it is already managing to give the others a healthy dose of competition.

What is it?

A third-generation offering from Kia, the Sedona is one of the new breed of South Korean vehicles that continue to shake up the automotive status quo. Offering sliding side doors, a power hatch and configurable middle seating, it’s a good alternative to the competition.

Powered by a singular 3.3-liter gas direct-injection V6 engine that produces 276 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque, the Sedona, in its various trim levels is a seven- or eight-passenger minivan that kinda, sorta looks like a crossover, more than it does a modern-day family truckster. Mated to a six-speed Sportmatic transmission, it is exclusively a front driver. It rides on a suspension made up of amplitude-selected dampers in front and an independent rear suspension with isolated trailing arms and rear strut reinforcements.

The Sedona’s structure is made of high-strength materials and is now 36-percent more rigid than its competitors. The frame is comprised of 76-percent high strength steel, and has gone so far as to incorporate steel tubing within the A-pillars that, in part, help it achieve a five-star NHTSA safety rating.

The perfect roadtrip companion, the Sedona offered everything from an abundance of USB and 115-volt charging ports, a lower glove box with the ability to cool drinks and the Kia UVO telematics suite, which offers Geo-fencing, Speed Alert, Curfew alert, and driving score functions. We find the last items odd in the sense that it will be rare that a parent whose children typically ride in a minivan will be handing over the keys to said children so he or she can run to the grocery store or the library.

A surround view monitor offered a visual confirmation that there were no obstructions around the van before backing and was joined by the rear cross traffic alert. Once underway, our SXL and its forward collision warning, smart cruise control, blind spot warning and rear cross traffic alert had us covered in nearly every other direction.

Although our test vehicle was not outfitted, when properly equipped, the Sedona is capable of towing up to 3,500 lbs.

What’s it up against?

Look for the Sedona to face off squarely in the juicebox wars against such stalwarts as the Honda Odyssey, Nissan Quest, Toyota Sienna and Chrysler Town & Country.

How does it look?

The Tiger-nose grill makes an appearance on the Sedona, and along the way contributes to the wider “hunkered down looks” that almost make this the anti-minivan. Expressive headlight lenses cross over from the corners into the hood for a more dynamic appearance.

When viewed from the side, the entire package just looks correct, rather than, say for example, the Honda Odyssey, which appears it was the result of two completely different vehicles being grafted together at the rear quarter panel. Speaking of those quarter panels, the blackout glass in the rear compartment help to contribute to the appearance of a “floating roofline.” The rear of our SXL also included Smart Power Tailgate rear hatch door that opened after being within range of the key fob for three seconds.

The Sedona is available in five levels of trim ranging from base L, LX, EX, SX and our SXL sample. Various seating configurations that can accommodate up to eight passengers are available, according to trim level, but our lounge chair-equipped SXL has a maximum human capacity of seven passengers.

And the inside?

Our Sedona was turned out in a tan and black interior that had us spazzing out over Kia’s Florida Highway Patrol color scheme. Strikingly, the first thing we notice that separates the Sedona from its competitors is its full center console that houses a gear selector lever and controls for various safety items like parking assist, drive mode, video camera mode and ventilated seating, not to mention the ubiquitous cupholder combo. At the base of either side of the console are cleverly designed pockets for mobile phones, water bottles and sunglasses.

Power sliding doors and a rear hatch made life easier at every turn. Since our test vehicle is the SXL, with its novel sliding mid-row captain’s chairs, it does not have the stow and go capabilities of the lower level models, which have the forward folding middle and rear row of seats. But its mid-level two-toned lounge chairs with active leg rests and the ability to recline make them feel like they were lifted from a Gulfstream jet. For added privacy or respite from a sunny day, our SXL was equipped with pull-up window shades.

Rear seat passengers have a choice of entering via folding the lounge chair backs forward or by entering through what is basically a center aisle to the third row.

But does it go?

It’s a minivan! Meant for hauling people and their things, it would be unusual for one to expect this to be a supreme corner-cutter, but it does manage to control the dreaded side wallow admirably. Wind noise was kept at bay and between the lounge-like seats in back and the quiet road manners on all types of surfaces, our SXL offered an impressive ride.

Acceleration from the 3.3-liter V6 was never in doubt, rapidly merging us into highway traffic without breaking a sweat. Unscientific testing had us hitting 60 mph in just 8.0 seconds in the normal drive mode setting. If fuel economy is your prime target, flip the Sedona into ECO mode to take full advantage of what that setting offers. Still, you may be slightly disappointed, as we were, to only achieve an average of 19 miles per gallon from the Sedona, which was exactly as the EPA claimed. (17 city/ 22 highway with 19 combined.)

Leftlane’s bottom line

Through the company’s ability to value price nearly everything in the lineup, to their clever designs that offer lounge-like second row seating, the Kia Sedona comes in as a solid contender in the minivan wars. Sure, they have some work to do on improving the overall fuel economy, but clearly that is trumped by the features and looks that come standard on this vehicle that absolutely deserves solid consideration from minivan buyers.

2015 Kia Sedona SXL base price, $39,700. As tested, $43,295.

SXL Technology package with Xenon HID headlights, Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Warning, Surround View Monitor, Smart Cruise Control, $2,700; Destination fee, $895.

Photos by Mark Elias.

  • Aesthetics


  • Technology


  • Green


  • Drive


  • Value


  • Score


Review: 2015 Kia Sedona SXL Reviewed by Mark Elias on September 23 Kia steps up its minivan game with the all-new Sedona. Rating: 3.5

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