For years the Kia Sedona was a me-too minivan that mimicked—and trailed—segment leaders like the Dodge Caravan, the Honda Odyssey, and the Toyota Sienna. But it recently became more of a contender when a full redesign of the 2015 model added sleek exterior styling, an attractive and versatile interior, and desirable features like reclining second-row seats with extendable leg rests. For the 2017 model year, the Kia Sedona SXL is better than ever. Its crossover-like styling makes it stand out among the many bland, boxy cars in the segment, and it offers the best value of the bunch.
That statement turned out to be very true, judging by the vastly improved new Grand Sedona.
Pricing and Design
The 2017 Sedona looks more like a crossover, like the Ford Escape, than a minivan, like the aforementioned Honda Odyssey. That makes it an appealing option for anyone who needs the space and utility a minivan provides, but doesn’t necessarily want to consider themself a minivan driver.
The car is available in five trim levels, all with a 3.3-liter V6 engine with an Active Eco System to improve fuel economy and a six-speed transmission driving the front wheels. The base model L starts at $26,400 and comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, body color exterior mirrors with LED turn signals, body color exterior door handles, automatic projector beam headlights, a rear spoiler, a rearview camera, keyless entry, a tilt and telescopic steering wheel with audio controls, cruise control, Kia’s Slide-N-Stow second-row seats, hill start assist, Bluetooth for phone and audio, and an AM/FM/CD/satellite radio audio system with four speakers, a 4.3-inch touch screen, and USB and aux-in ports.
The LX trim starts at $28,500 and adds roof rails, LED daytime running lights, power-folding exterior mirrors, privacy glass, and an eight-way power driver’s seat with two-way power lumbar support. A $1,900 Technology Package option adds rear parking sensors, second- and third-row window sunshades, heated front seats, a cooling glove box, dual power sliding doors, and the UVO eServices infotainment system.
The SX trim starts at $36,400 and adds machine finish 18-inch alloy wheels, Jewel-Type LED daytime running lights, LED taillights, an upgraded instrument cluster, four-way power driver lumbar support, an eight-way power front passenger seat, driver seat and exterior mirror memory, heated second-row seats, an eight-speaker Infinity Surround Sound audio system with AM/FM HD Radio, and an 8-inch touch-screen head unit with voice control and navigation with SiriusXM Traffic. A $3,700 8-Passenger Technology Package option adds a three-passenger second-row seat, HID projector beam headlights with auto leveling, auto high beams, a heated steering wheel, front and rear parking sensors, a surround-view monitor, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure and forward collision warning.
The top-of-the-line SXL trim that we tested has a base price of $39,900. Along with a $2,800 Technology Package and a $1,095 Rear Seat Entertainment System option, as well as an inland freight and handling charge of $895, bringing the final sticker to $44,690. This model gets you everything the other trim levels offer, plus 19-inch chrome-colored alloy wheels, chrome door handles, dual power sunroofs, projector beam fog lights, front and rear parking sensors, a surround-view monitor, Nappa leather seat trim, and a wood-trimmed and heated steering wheel. The Technology Package adds everything in the SX’s Tech Package, plus a 115-volt cargo area power inverter. The optional center console-mounted Rear Seat Entertainment System features a folding screen, DVD player, two pairs of wireless headphones, and a wireless remote control.
Connectivity, Technology, and Interface
The 2016 Sedona SXL has the same odd mix of connectivity that we’ve seen in other Kia vehicles. Apps for streaming content include Pandora and iHeartRadio, which are accessed through an Android or iOS device connected to the car via Bluetooth or USB. But a Yelp app for local search has to be downloaded to the infotainment system using a Download Center feature. And in order to use Yelp, as well as a Google Local Search feature that’s part of the navigation system, the vehicle has to be connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot.
The UVO eServices system offers telematics features without requiring a subscription for the first five years of ownership. These include a 911 Connect feature that will dial the emergency number from a Bluetooth-connected phone when an airbag deploys, roadside assistance, and vehicle diagnostics. An UVO remote app can be used to control functions such as geofencing, a vehicle locator, Curfew and Speed Alerts, and also offers a Google Maps send-to-car function.
Infotainment features are accessed via the same 8-inch capacitive touch display we’ve tested in other Kia vehicles, such as the 2017 Sorento. It has a clean layout, and the My Menu section allows you to add icons for your most frequently used features so that they’re easily accessible. In some cases, features can be accessed using the onboard voice recognition as well as Apple’s Siri Eyes Free for iOS devices.
The Sedona’s navigation system is basic and mapping is only shown in a top-down 2D mode. But the system has live traffic data via satellite radio, and SiriusXM supplies weather info, gas station locations and fuel pricing, and even local movie listings.
The Rear Seat Entertainment System essentially mounts a screen on the back of the center console. The fold-out screen feels hokey and looks a bit dated, but it offers rear seat passengers access to most audio sources, as well as DVD video and an HDMI input.
Audio sources include CD, AM/FM HD Radio, satellite radio, an aux-in jack, and Bluetooth audio. There are two USB ports in front and another in back that only allows device charging.
Performance and Conclusions
The 2016 Sedona’s 3.3-liter, 276-horsepower V6 engine is surprisingly powerful, while the six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and quietly. The ride is also impressive for such a large vehicle, even around turns, and the interior is very quiet on the road. A button can be used to cycle through Eco, Standard, and Comfort modes, though you may want to leave it in Eco, since the Sedona SXL’s extra weight (about 100 pounds) drops fuel economy to 19mpg combined.
The Kia Sedona still trails in sales behind more popular (and more expensive) minivans like the Honda Odyssey, which has better fuel economy, and the Toyota Sienna, the only option with all-wheel drive. And the Dodge Grand Caravan is the sales leader due to its appealing price and second- and third-row seats that tuck completely into the floor to create ample cargo area. But the 2016 Kia Sedona XL certainly manages to stand out in the looks department, and offers more value for your dollar than any of the vehicles in the segment. It’s a minivan for those who don’t want to drive minivans.