2015 Kia Sedona

DANA POINT, Calif., — Many automakers have tried but not one has succeeded in changing the driving public’s perception of minivans. They are considered dowdy vehicles for people who are laden with kids and have no lives of their own. Minivans are thought to be the lone vehicle that people buy not because they want to but because they need to.

 To this ominous perception Kia introduces its 2015 Sedona minivan, tagged as a multipurpose vehicle or MPV. But it’ll take more than a label change to alter the awareness of the segment in general and create some excitement around the Sedona in particularly.

What could really inspire excitement is how the new Sedona is equipped starting with a 3.3-liter direct injection V6 engine (Sedona’s lone powerplant) that makes 276 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque.

That oomph let our test vehicle handle the hills as well as the long upward swells of the local roads without really working hard. The six-speed automatic shifted smoothly and decisively. The 3.3 has an EPA rating of 17 mpg in the city, 22 mpg on the highway and 19 mpg combined.

There’s more excitement with Sedona’s innovative and interesting seating in the second row depending on the trim line. What Kia called Slide-N-Stow was second row track seating that slid forward and folded upright for storage. Add that to third row seats that fold flat into the floor and you gain some extraordinary cargo capacity. Then there was “First Class” lounge seating. The second row seats could be moved back providing extra leg room. They had retractable lower leg rests and winged headrest much like first class airline seats on international flights.

Some second row seats, again depending on the trim line were heated. What’s more, some were adjustable side-to-side.

Another innovation with the 2015 Sedona is felt in the first row; specifically, from the driver’s seat. Kia dumped the gear shifter from the column and it eschewed putting in one of those piers that juts out from the center stack. In fact, the automaker has done away with the center stack altogether.

All together Sedona’s interior feels like that of a midsize sedan. Instruments were laid out horizontally, the gear shifter was in the newly installed center console, heck, and our top of the line SXL even had a dead pedal that was really comfortable.

It was easy to forget what we were driving, no matter what you call it. The new Sedona had a Macpherson strut, coil springs and a roll bar front suspension. The rear suspension was a multilink setup with struts and coil springs. And surprise, surprise, steering was not electric power; it was rack and pinion with hydraulic power assist.

We kept calling the Sedona a car, that’s how it drove. It was nimble and maneuverable with a turning radius of 36.8 ft. Our test Sedona MPV had the prerequisite stuff: satellite radio, a navigation system, backup camera, dual power sliding doors, and tri-zone climate controls.
Additionally our Sedona had drive-mode selection, a smart tailgate (just stand behind the tailgate for about five seconds with the key fob in pocket or purse and the tailgate opened automatically) as well as front and rear park-assist.

Kia’s 2015 Sedona, on sale now, comes in five trim lines. The L starts at $25,900, base price for the LX is $28,100, the EX is $32,100, the SX is $36,100 and the SX Limited is $39,700. These prices do not include Kia’s $895 shipping charge for the Sedona.

The optional $2,700 technology package had Xenon headlights, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, surround view monitor and smart cruise control. Our test vehicle was priced at $43,295 which is not outlandish for a well-equipped minivan or MPV or whatever you want to call it, than any other vehicle of this type with this equipment.

— Frank Washington and Ted Biederman