Considering that most minivan manufacturers have spent decades perfecting their spacious people movers (the Dodge Grand Caravan traces its roots back to the mid-1980s, for instance), the Kia Sedona is practically the new kid on the block. But since its debut in 2002, the Sedona has grown from being an inexpensive also-ran to a high-tech cruiser capable of taking the fight to the establishment. It's still one of the most affordable vehicles in the class, but its roomy interior, high-quality cabin materials and flexible seating arrangements deliver plenty of appeal beyond just value.
The 2018 Kia Sedona does all the standard minivan stuff well. It can transport seven or eight passengers effortlessly thanks to its strong V6 engine, and the deep cargo well accepts plenty of luggage, so it's perfect for a family road trip. There are a few surprises here, too. On the SX Limited model, the second-row captain's chairs offer deployable thigh rests and airline-style headrests with folding wings. The seats are so comfortable you'll be counting down the days until the oldest can get a learner's permit.
There are a few disappointments, chief of which is the V6's uncompetitive fuel economy scores. The Sedona SX Limited earns a full 6 mpg less than the new Honda Odyssey in the EPA's highway test, for example. In addition, the second-row seats aren't removable, so you can't turn the Sedona into a cargo van on the fly as you can with the Chrysler Pacifica. On the whole, though, the Sedona is a solid entry in this segment, whether you consider it the budget-friendly alternative to mainstream minivans or an executive seven-seater with a first-class middle row.
The 2018 Kia Sedona is a seven- or eight-passenger minivan sold in five trim levels. The base L model is very reasonably priced, with a light features list that includes a rearview camera and a USB input for the audio system. The LX doesn't cost much more, and its power-sliding doors and other features are worth the modest price bump. The EX is quite a bit more, but we find its power tailgate, 7-inch touchscreen and leather upholstery to be irresistible. The SX doubles down on the luxury, safety and tech features, and even more are added when you select the range-topping SX Limited.
Like every Sedona, the base L model is powered by a 3.3-liter V6 engine (276 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque) that sends power to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. Standard feature highlights include 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, Slide-N-Stow forward-collapsing second-row captain's chairs (reducing seating capacity to seven), stain-resistant cloth upholstery, a 60/40-split reclining and folding third-row bench seat, dual-zone climate control (with front and rear controls), Bluetooth, a 5-inch touchscreen, a rearview camera, and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and a USB port.
The LX trim adds power-folding mirrors, power-sliding doors, rear privacy glass, a second-row bench seat (increasing passenger capacity to eight), an eight-way power driver seat (with two-way power lumbar) and a six-speaker audio system.
The EX hits what we think is the sweet spot of the Sedona lineup. This trim adds 18-inch wheels, foglights, LED daytime running lights, a windshield wiper de-icer, heated mirrors, roof rails, a height-adjustable power tailgate, front and rear parking sensors, upgraded shock absorbers, keyless ignition and entry, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, tri-zone automatic climate control, a driver information display, leather upholstery, heated front seats, sunshades for the second and third rows, a cooled glovebox, a portable flashlight, a 7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, Uvo3 eServices emergency telematics and additional USB charge ports.
The SX trim reverts back to the seven-passenger configuration with second-row captain's chairs (the bench is available as an option) and adds LED taillights, driver-seat memory functions, four-way lumbar adjustment for the driver, an eight-way power front passenger seat, ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, an 8-inch touchscreen, a navigation system and an eight-speaker Infinity premium audio system. A blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert is also included.
The range-topping eight-passenger SX Limited trim adds 19-inch wheels, adaptive xenon headlights with automatic high-beam control, upgraded foglights, a sound-reducing windshield, chrome door handles, adaptive cruise control, a heated steering wheel and a household-style power outlet. Even more advanced safety features come with the SX Limited, including forward collision warning and mitigation (with automatic emergency braking), a lane departure warning system and a surround-view camera system.
Many features on the higher trims are available as options on the lower trims. A dual-panel sunroof; first-class, lounge-style seating for the second row (without Slide-N-Stow); and premium leather upholstery are available solely on the SX Limited trim via the Prestige package. A rear-seat entertainment system is offered on all models.