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2015 Kia Sedona SXL+ Review – “That’s Actually Really Nice,” They Say

2015 Kia Sedona SXL+ Rainbow Haven bridge

Unlike the Honda Odyssey, the all-new, 2015, third-generation Kia Sedona is not the most efficient and athletic minivan on sale today. Unlike the Dodge Grand Caravan, the new Sedona is not the most affordable and flexible. Unlike the Toyota Sienna, the Sedona doesn’t offer unique features like all-wheel-drive or Driver Easy Speak.

The Sedona is, however, a relatively successful foray into the North American MPV sector. It’s strengthened by decent on-road behaviour, a high-quality interior, a superb powertrain, and styling that made the neighbourhood teenagers say, “That’s actually really nice.”

• Terrific styling
• Massive second row
• Serene ride quality
• Plenty of tech features
• Power to spare

• Somewhat cumbersome to drive
• Not all that flexible
• Less refined aft of front row
• Tight third row
• No centre walk-through

So what’s up with that “relatively” qualifier? Regardless of how well executed the third Sedona is, we won’t be able to liken this van’s marketplace success to that of the Sienna, Odyssey, or Grand Caravan. In the latest Sedona’s best sales month so far, January 2015, sales of Canada’s best-selling minivan, the Grand Caravan, were more than 1000% stronger.

Yeah, it’s actually really nice, but demand won’t be high, and with that fact in mind, Kia won’t ladle out excessive inventory to dealers.

2015 Kia Sedona SXL+ Cow Bay Nova Scotia
Base Price: $ $29,270 *
As-Tested Price: $47,960 *
Drive Type: front-wheel-drive
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Engine: 3.3L DOHC 24-valve V6
Horsepower: 276 @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 248 lb-ft @ 5200 rpm
Curb Weight: 4720 pounds
Length: 201.4 inches
Width: 78.1 inches
Height: 69.1 inches
Wheelbase: 120.5 inches
Tires: Toyo Observe GSi-5
Tire Size: 235/55R19
Passenger Volume: 4879 litres
Cargo Volume: 960 litres
CV Behind 2nd Row: 2220 litres
Max. Cargo Volume: 4022 litres
EPA City: 17 mpg
EPA Hwy: 22 mpg
NRCAN OEE City: 14.2 L/100km
NRCAN OEE Hwy: 10.5 L/100km
Observed: 19.1 mpg
Observed: 12.3 L/100km
* Canadian dollars, includes $1775 in fees.
MPG fuel economy ratings from the
Environmental Protection Agency.
L/100km ratings from the Canadian
Office of Energy Efficiency’s new
5-cycle testing for MY2015 vehicles.

Even accepting the verdict of the local street hockey snipers, you’re right to believe that Kia didn’t build the perfect family minivan. But this is a whole lot of vehicle to cover, so we’re breaking this review into five sections, working from back to front so more bases can be covered systematically. It’s a utilitarian review of a utilitarian product, albeit a surprisingly style-conscious one.

As has long been par for the course in the minivan arena, the Sedona’s third row of seating folds into the floor, though not with perfectly smooth operation and not completely flush with the floor. With the third row up, the Sedona’s cargo area is 13% smaller than the Sienna’s, 12% smaller than the Odyssey’s, and a scant 0.9-cubic-feet larger than the Grand Caravan’s. 

The difference in cargo volume isn’t really noticeable until the third row is folded, at which point the other vans offer between 6% and 19% more capacity for newly purchased kitchen appliances. 

Such comparisons don’t do the Sedona any favours, but they do something of a disservice, as well, masking the sheer livingroom-like space of the cargo area in any modern minivan, Sedona included.

Do you want to sit back here? Of course not, but you’ll prefer it to the third row in three-row crossovers. It’s certainly not as spacious or comfortable as the Odyssey’s rear cabin, but it’s nice to have options for access. 

2015 Kia Sedona SXL+ profile

Because the Sedona’s second row captain’s chairs pivot side to side, a passenger banished to the third row can choose to move on back either through the gap between the second-row seats (this fully loaded SXL+ model isn’t available with eight seats like some Sedonas) or, with the second-row seats moved inward, along the side of the van instead. 

That’s a useful tool, because the gap through the middle isn’t sufficiently broad even when manually widened.

2015 Kia Sedona SXL+ front

If your concern with the Sedona’s second row was its lack of Stow’N’Go capability or its non-removable status – most Sedonas can stand their seats upright – then the top-trim model will disappoint from a flexibility standpoint. This SXL+ Sedona’s two middle chairs can’t be folded, removed, or stacked upright. 

They can, however, be pushed way back into a third-row-knee-crunching position, steeply reclined, and then maxed out with an extendable footrest. The lankier among us won’t be able to fully realize the comfort of this legs-extended setup, but it rivals or surpasses the Sienna for second-row supremacy. 

As a family van, this arrangement is unseemly. There’s also no factory DVD, the seats move around like super glue was recently poured in the tracks, and the central pass-through between the front seats is stuffed full by a tall console like you’d see in any SUV.

So of course the Sedona can’t challenge the Grand Caravan as a pickup truck alternative. But as a continental tourer for older citizens who need to ferry grandchildren around with some frequency, the Sedona impresses. Taking a few snowbirds to Florida for the winter? In that case, a collapsed third row and a Rolls-Royce-aping second row is a lot more enjoyable than a van that does double duty as a truck at Home Depot on the weekends.

2015 Kia Sedona SXL+ exterior collage

The 2015 Kia Sedona’s high points are mostly evident where the adults reside. From Kia’s straightforward UVO interface to the pleasing materials, a throttle pedal that provides access to a responsive 3.3L V6, a spacious passenger footwell, and quiet A-pillars, this is the area of the Sedona that makes other minivans look like second-class citizens that were developed in a prior decade.

Yes, the engine and 6-speed automatic are nicely matched, but while smooth and powerful, the Sedona SXL+ produces discouraging fuel efficiency figures: 14.5 L/100km city; 10.5 highway. We saw 12.3 L/100km in mostly city driving.

2015 Kia Sedona SXL+ interior

Away from straight lines, however, the Sedona’s comfort-first philosophy causes the van to wallow about in ways that would nauseate an Odyssey owner and disappoint a Sienna driver. Ride quality is always impressive, but with lifeless and slow steering and more than 4700 pounds to cart around, this won’t be the MPV that makes you say, “car-like.”

This is not your aunt’s Mercury Villager. In Canada, 2015 Sedonas start at $29,260, but that L trim doesn’t have alloy wheels, auto headlights, heated seats, or a backup camera. The $31,760 LX adds those items, among other things, but it doesn’t offer tri-zone automatic climate control, a heated steering wheel, blind spot monitoring, heated second row seats, or power doors, for which you’ll need to step up to the $37,360 SX. 

2015 Kia Sedona SXL+ lounge seat

The $42,760 SXL bumps up the luxury quotient with Nappa leather, cooled front seats, dual sunroofs, and the second-row lounge seating. The Sedona tops out like our tester as a $47,960 SXL+ with smart high beams, 8-speaker Infinity audio, navigation, a surround view monitor, adaptive cruise, and more safety kit.

Historical Monthly & Yearly Kia Sedona Sales Figures
2015 Toyota Sienna XLE Limited AWD Driven Review
Complete U.S. Minivan Sales Figures: 2015 Q1
Complete Canadian Minivan Sales Figures: 2015 Q1

Although this 2015 Sedona represented a clean-sheet design, Kia didn’t prioritize cargo capacity, cargo flexibility, or third row space. And by placing the emphasis on front occupants and exterior styling, Kia won’t easily win over conventional minivan buyers and their growing families.

But on the outskirts of the minivan market there have always been buyers who didn’t prioritize the manifestation of fertility. As luxurious long-haul transportation in lieu of a full-size sedan, the 2015 Sedona SXL+ is, well, actually really nice. Unfortunately for Kia, I’m one of the guys with a growing family, and though the Sedona is a pleasant place in which to spend time, it simply doesn’t nail an acceptable number of key minivan ingredients.

2015 Kia Sedona camera cargo