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Kia won't say it, but the Sedona is still a minivan

Though it tries to shake the van stigma, the 2015 Sedona debuts with family-friendly connected UVO dashboard tech, the new Kia App store, and stain resistant anti-microbial fabric.

Antuan Goodwin Reviews Editor / Cars
Antuan Goodwin gained his automotive knowledge the old fashioned way, by turning wrenches in a driveway and picking up speeding tickets. From drivetrain tech and electrification to car audio installs and cabin tech, if it's on wheels, Antuan is knowledgeable.
Expertise Reviewing cars and car technology since 2008 focusing on electrification, driver assistance and infotainment Credentials
  • North American Car, Truck and SUV of the Year (NACTOY) Awards Juror
Antuan Goodwin
3 min read

NEW YORK -- Kia insists on calling the 2015 Sedona a 'midsize multi-purpose vehicle,' almost refusing to call it a 'minivan.' The automaker talks a lot about the new vehicle's CUV-like proportions, but just look at it and tell me what you see? It's a minivan. Sure, maybe minivans aren't cool and you're looking for a new angle, but you're not fooling anyone, Kia.

The Sedona's not a bad looking minivan. The automaker's 'Tiger Nose' corporate fascia spreads nicely one the wide front end. LED daytime runners augment the projector headlamps and compliment the 3-dimensional LED taillights. A belt line that rises slightly at the rear haunches, just behind the sliding rear doors, adds a bit of character to the slab side. And the side glass wraps around the blacked-out D-pillars creating a floating roof illusion and somewhat reducing the visual mass of a vehicle designed to seat 7 or 8 people.

Sure, the Nissan Quest did the wrap-around glass thing first and the Honda Odyssey already has a belt line kink, but the Kia blends the two elements seamlessly -- if not derivatively.

Inside, the Sedona features anti-microbial and stain-resistant fabric. Kia says this is good for anyone who leads and active lifestyle, but it's really good because most Sedonas will be filled to the brim with children. Leather seating similar to that found on the luxury K900 sedan is also available.

Front row passengers will be treated to the latest generation of the automaker's excellent UVO infotainment and telematics system with new Geo-fencing, Speed Alert, Curfew Alert and Driving Score features. This is also the first Kia vehicle to feature the new Kia App store that integrates with the iTunes or Google Play stores to bring Google Local Search, Pandora, iHeart Radio, Yelp, and Siri Eyes Free. A high-power, 2.1A USB charging port keeps a paired smartphone's charge topped-off.

Safety tech including forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert join an a Surround View Monitor in protecting the Sedona's precious cargo. A hands-free "Smart Tailgate" operates similarly to the system that we also saw on the 2015 Hyundai Sonata, opening the liftgate automatically when the owner approaches the vehicle's rear and waits three seconds with the key fob in pocket.


The Sedona's hands-free

Sarah Tew/CNET

A van's gotta be able to haul its cargo around, so Kia has fit the Sedona with the Cadenza's 3.3-liter Lambda V6 engine. Boasting more power than the previous model's 3.5-liter, the Sedona now outputs 276 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. Gasoline direct injection, variable induction, and variable valve timing help the van to also make better low to mid-range torque than before.

That engine is mated with a six-speed automatic transmission and the whole package is nestled into a chassis that's firmer than before for better safety and ride quality. Ride harshness has been reduced as well as road noise. Kia also claims improvements to driving dynamics and performance, attributes that we seriously doubt matter to minivan buyers, but are welcomed all the same.