Saturday Road Test – Kia Sedona SXL

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Kia Sedona SXL

A Luxury People Mover

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD – Kia is hot, posting an all-time best monthly sales figure of 62,433 vehicles in May and boasting that it “is never afraid to challenge conventional thinking …”

It accomplished that by offering a completely redesigned minivan for 2015 at a time when the market is enamored with small crossovers, SUV’s and trucks.

And by offering a top-of-the-line Sedona van that will haul a fair amount of cargo, but really is a luxury people mover.

The tested SXL brings to the party heated front and second row seats, ventilated front seats, LED taillights, driver power lumbar settings with memory, eight inch touchscreen, navi, Nappa leather seat trim and leather steering wheel trim, three zone automatic climate control, lots of soft touch surfaces, well-marked and easy to reach controls, and a second row more related to a limo than a van.

Called “First Class Lounge Seating” the second row slides back and forth, the seat backs recline, and there are extendable leg rests. What the seats don’t do is fold up against the front row for added cargo carrying capability, and if that is a concern, you might want to consider one of the models below the SXL in the Kia lineup. Ditto if small kids spilling liquids is a concern – fabric seats on other models are ready for the challenge. So again, this is really more of a people mover yet missing from any option list is second row video screens.

Those sliding second row seats make entry to the third row fairly easy, but once there you learn that this area is best left to children due to limited headroom. Folding the heavy third row seats calls for a few grunts and one wonders why a power option is not available. There is a deep well for storage between the upright third row and the very welcome power liftgate.

Up front there are enough adjustments for driver and passenger to craft that “just right” comfort level. But there is also limited left leg room for the driver so there is no real chance of stretching your leg on a long drive without wedging it behind the brake pedal.

In a week of wild swings in spring temperatures, the three zone automatic climate control kept things comfortable and four cheers for Kia for putting the shift lever on the center console rather than the steering column.

The Infinity Surround Sound Audio System produced some excellent music while the dual sunroofs were a nice touch bringing the outdoors in after a rough winter.

While quiet on the interstates, certain types of road imperfections sent more noise and vibration back to the cabin than expected. Handling was about what one would expect in a van.

A 3.3 liter V6 is the sole power source rated at 276 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque matched to a six speed automatic and, thank heavens, not a CVT.

The engine and tranny acted in good syncopation with an EPA economy rating of 17 mpg city, 22 highway, and a combined 19 mpg. I logged 21.8 during my test that included lots of suburban driving and a day long highway trip on regular unleaded – That is the van, not me. I need full strength, dark roast java.

Options on the test van were wrapped in a $2,700 “SXL Technology Package” with Xenon HID headlights, Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Warning, Surround View Monitor and “Smart Cruise Control.”

Add in $895 for delivery and the MSRP came to $43,295. With its total makeover for 2015, only minor changes are expected for model year 2016.

This idea of a first class people mover is an interesting move on Kia’s part while preserving on its other four model offerings the things those young families want in a van – kid proofing and additional cargo space.

If it is a luxurious people mover that you are looking for do take the Kia Sedona SXL out for a drive. Then pop anti-van skeptics in the second row, extend the seat all the way to the rear, adjust the head rests, raise the leg rests, and I’m betting they will believe they are finally flying first class.

 

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