2015 Kia Sedona SXL

2015 Kia Sedona SXL Review

A fancy wrapper on an okay minivan.

By: Andrew Krok

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: July 14th, 2015

For the 2015 model year, the Kia Sedona underwent a massive re-do. The 2014 Sedona looked brutish in its cheapness, whereas the new Sedona is a stunner, borrowing just the right bits from other members of the family. It's packing a revamped powertrain, and, in top-trim SXL form, a positively resplendent interior. The infotainment system has been upgraded, as well. As you can tell, this is basically a ground-up reinvention of the Sedona. But does it fit in with the heavy hitters in this segment, like the ubiquitous Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna? We think it does; it's not the best of the group, but it's in the running.

  • Interior

    Our Sedona was the SXL model, which is the highest trim level of them all. With that designation, you pick up a set of second-row captain's chairs that are configurable in ways that might make a private jet's seats a little jealous; hell, they even come with full footrests. If you're only hauling two kids in the back, they can live in the lap of luxury - so long as the third row is folded flat into the trunk, because otherwise you can't slide the second row as far back as possible. No matter what seat you pick, you'll be plenty comfortable.

    Up front, the first row looks more like a crossover than a minivan. There is no old-school passage from the first row to the second; a massive center console eats up all that space. It gives you a cozier feeling than other minivans, which is part of the reason why we said it felt more crossover-like than the competition. On the dashboard itself, you'll find an array of physical switchgear that makes it easy to switch through screens without much distraction. As with other members of the Hyundai/Kia family, a color display between the gauges puts pertinent information right in front of your face.

    Cupholders abound in the Sedona (there are 12 total), but more minivan-specific items like a conversation mirror are not available. There are also a surprisingly low number of power outlets and storage cubbies, two items that appear in abundance in other, more well-established minivans. Like we said, the Sedona is good, but it's not all the way there just yet. All in due time, we suppose.

  • Exterior

    The minivan is getting muscly. At least that's what we're thinking after giving the new Sedona a visual once-over. The silhouette gains some much-needed angularity, and the front end adopts a family face that we think strikes the right balance between angry and cute. The SXL hunkers down relatively low on its 19-inch chrome wheels, giving it a pretty aggressive stance for a minivan. All in all, it's a cohesive look that is a far cry from that thing you call the 2014 Sedona.

  • On the Road

    The Sedona SXL is a bit heavier than the other trims, thanks to some fancier equipment and larger wheels. With an additional 250-ish pounds shellacked onto the Sedona, there was no hiding the portly nature of this van on the road. It clamored over bumps and potholes; in general, the ride quality felt a little worse than the competition, although we bet those big wheels (with shorter tire sidewalls) had something to do with that. The SXL's mass also affects its get-up-and-go; while the 3.3-liter V-6 is no slouch in other Kia vehicles, it has a harder time pushing the Sedona around; our van lacked hustle and took its time finding the right gear. The grandiose effort required to move the van resulted in some lackluster fuel-economy, as well; our average economy, even with plenty of highway driving, was around 17 mpg for about 200-250 miles on the road. Eco mode didn't seem to do anything to help fuel economy.

    The steering was also a bit lacking; while it was nice and light in Comfort mode, we found ourselves making mid-turn corrections because the Sedona had a tendency to track further outward than the steering position would suggest. You can remove some of the steering slop by switching out of Comfort mode, but it's not going to go away; there is no Sport setting on the Sedona, because that would be silly.

    In terms of ancillary driving experience, we were reminded why Kia's UVO infotainment system is one of the best on the market. UVO is easy to use, and it becomes muscle memory after a few minutes behind the wheel. Voice recognition doesn't get confused, and the "home" screen can display audio and map information at the same time. It's a really good system, and along with interior design, helps the van compete with the Odyssey and Sienna.

  • Final Thoughts

    The new Sedona, especially in SXL trim, is a marvel of interior design, and its infotainment system is one of the best on the market. Sadly, the driving experience doesn't match up to what you see; fuel economy and ride quality are still lagging behind the competition. We don't doubt that the new look for 2015 will pull more than a few heads from the Odyssey and Sienna, but those two vans have been doing this for far longer, and they possess more qualities that we think minivan buyers crave. We bet Kia will smooth out these imperfections in later updates, and at that time, we won't doubt that it will be going toe-to-toe with the best of the best. But in the meantime, it's sitting in a strong runner-up position.

  • Specs & Price

    Engine: 3.3-liter naturally-aspirated V-6

    Transmission: Six-speed automatic

    Drivetrain Layout: Front-engine, front-wheel drive

    Power Output: 276 horsepower / 248 lb-ft

    Fuel Economy (mpg): 17 city / 22 highway

    Base Price: $39,700

    As Tested: $43,295 (incl. $895 destination)

    Available Features:

    SXL Technology Package: HID headlights, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, surround-view cameras

    Individual Options: Second-row bench seat, heated second-row seats

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