Kia would like to remind you that our 3-row SUV simply can’t compete with a minivan for family supremacy
Words by: Adam Allen
Attention Families: Your three-row SUV is not fooling anyone.
We get it- you don’t want to drive what your parents did, and if you call yourself a child of the late 80’s /early 90’s you likely grew up in the generous confines of a minivan. Perish the thought that you’d follow suit; you are way to cool for that! No matter your self-consciousness about driving one of these, it cannot be denied that minivans do serve a purpose on the automotive landscape. In their heyday, the Dodge Caravan was the most popular, but the Toyota Previa, the Pontiac Transport and the Mazda MPV likely were on Mom and Dad’s radar as you required schlepping from one afterschool program to another. There is a reason why this segment thrived- it was, and is, the perfect solution if you have kids and associated gear that need to get from Point A to Point B. The minivan has always had to battle with its stigma as a pariah, the automotive equivalent of telling the world you have given up. While the minivan may not find mass appeal from buyers at large like yesterday, it still serves a valiant purpose. A three row SUV can rise to the challenge in this framework,but the fact remains that it just isn’t as good. After spending a week in Kia’s Sedona- one of the scant few minivan offerings for sale today- we think all these truths are as relevant as they were when Short Circuit was tearing it up at the box office.
Life with a minivan can be fun.
No, seriously, it can. First, know that kids don’t think your less cool than you already are if you drive a Sedona- they love these things. If you have the integrated entertainment system on board- which our tester lacked- you might have a hard time getting them to get out when you arrive at your destination. If that end point happens to be a campground, simply fold the rear seats and remove the middle ones and you instantly have an excellent shelter. Speaking from experience (we have done this many times before) you will end up with much more comfortable accommodations than a tent, which will extract too much time from your schedule trying to pitch while causing you to curse uncontrollably. Need to move? No problem. In this voluminous configuration sans seats, you’ll be able to swallow more stuff than your buddy’s pickup and these goods will arrive nice and dry should Mother Nature decide to add some rain into the proceedings. There are endless cubbies, storage nooks and charging points to keep occupants happy and while making sure they are comfortable with ample room to stretch out. You will have to dig seriously deep to come up with something good to refute this stuff.
How will it look parked in front of one of the city’s hottest new restaurants?
The jig is up, dear reader- if you have made it this far the smart money says you have kids, and you therefore do not go out anymore, let alone to the newest hot spot. If you can find a sitter, the Sedona will take you along with two other couples of your choosing in comfort to whatever early bird reservation you have managed to secure. And while it may not be given front and centre attention, the Sedona is one of the minivans that actually looks good. Looking very similar to its Sorento cousin from the A-pillars onwards, it cares not for the bulbous, bloated styling of its competitors. From the B-pillars back it’s all van, as you’d expect. It sacrifices some room from side to side in favor of more trim exterior styling which is telling; you can therefore deduce that Kia was really trying hard to make you forget your minivan is not a minivan.
The Kia Sedona is a lot of things. Like all minivans, it is not an ideal companion to indulge your backroad carving fantasies.
Really- that isn’t going to shock anyone. The same reason a Porsche 911 shopper is looking at an accomplished sports car, the very same focused reasoning is behind a minivan purchase; this, from Moms and Dads who try to justify a crossover of sorts but come up short once they factor in how vans like our Sedona so effectively stow families and their stuff so competently. Luckily for those who have committed themselves to this segment of the marketplace, the Sedona is not an exercise in skull drudgery where driving dynamics are concerned. Compared to the half assed efforts our parents endured twenty plus years ago, the Sedona feels like a luxury car that does pretty OK should you find yourself on a road that differs from arrow straight. This is not something that encourages you to seek the most winding roads in your vicinity, but if the road you find yourself on squiggles about it won’t degrade into soggy, non-comital understeer. Nor will it encourage you to aim for apexes followed up by enthusiastic corner exits, but it strikes a nice balance between the two behaviors. Parents who relished their time on the track or autocross in their younger days will not be hoisting a trophy for the day’s best times, but they won’t require wearing a paper bag over their heads once the checkered flag is waved either.
What might go wrong?
We know that Kia is wholly capable of building satisfying, bang for your buck cars that happen to look pretty good thanks to the accomplished pen of Peter Shreyer. Despite the brand’s commendable progress, Kia driving dynamics are still subject to the ‘there’s room for improvement’ designation. You have to really wring out the engine to get meaningful power, and the transmission is more geared to relaxed shifting than the starched ratio swapping of other 8-speed automatics you might expect. We long for a driving position that emphasizes a more intimate relationship with steering wheel and pedals, but more glaringly we think most folks will wonder aloud why all-wheel drive was left off the options list. We hope that one day Kia will allow Sedona buyers to spec such an option, because if it did the Sedona would have trounced the Sienna from a value perspective. Perhaps, if the Sedona makes it through another generation that might be a thing.
Should I buy a Kia Sedona?
If making carefully considered, shrewd purchases is your bag- especially in the automotive space- you really need to consider the Sedona as a worthy candidate for your hard earned dollars as well as the extremely important task of getting your family where it needs to go in style, comfort and safety. There are other options in the ever shrinking segment that will satisfy that criteria very well, but none can offer the economic advantage of the Sedona. For those of you with a Toyota Sienna or Chrysler Pacifica brochure on your coffee table, take note- those alternatives may offer AWD or an onboard vacuum respectively- bit they are going to cost a whole lot more than our Sedona. Our workaround: buy a good set of winter tires and a handheld Dyson once they go on sale after the holidays to make up for the deficiencies. You’ll still come out ahead with enough dough saved to rent an ultra-luxurious RV camper next summer if you choose to hit the camping circuit.
2020 Kia Sedona SX – Specifications
- Price as tested: $43,829
- Body Type: 5-door, 7 passenger Minivan
- Powertrain Layout: Front engine/front-wheel drive
- Engine: 3.3-litre V6, DOHC, 24 valves
- Horsepower: 276 @ 6,000 rpm
- Torque (lb-ft.): 248 @ 5,200 rpm
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Curb weight: 2,760 kg (3,397 lbs)
- Observed Fuel consumption: 11.7L/100km (20 mpg)