Kia Sedona is roomier, more powerful and restyled
Minivans have a bad rap these days as boring family vehicles. The truth is new minivans are impressively stocked with amenities, have some of the best safety ratings around and can offer good value.The latest example is Kia’s 2006 Sedona. It’s the second-generation Sedona minivan and is roomier, restyled inside and out, has more equipment than ever and is more powerful – with 242 horsepower – than its predecessor.The list of standard safety items is lengthy and includes six airbags, tire pressure monitor, traction control and anti-whiplash front-seat head restraints.Already, this new van has received the top, five-star rating in front and side crash testing from the federal government. And the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety declared it a “top safety pick,” saying the new Sedona “is the best minivan we’ve tested.”That’s not all. The Sedona ranks as the minivan with the best warranty – a full 10 years/100,000 miles for a limited powertrain warranty along with a basic bumper-to-bumper warranty for five years/60,000 miles.But starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price, including destination charge, of $23,665 means the Sedona no longer is the price leader in America.Other vans such as the smaller, 2006 Dodge Caravan SXT with regular wheelbase and 180-horsepower V6, the 2006 Chevrolet Uplander and Saturn Relay twins with fewer standard safety features than the Sedona, and the aged, 2006 Mazda MPV have lower starting prices at $22,675 to just over $23,000.The Sedona also competes against the top-selling minivans, the 2006 Dodge Grand Caravan, which starts at $23,995 with 180-horsepower V6, and the 2006 Honda Odyssey, which starts at $25,895 with 244-horsepower V6.There are two trim levels of Sedona – the base LX and the uplevel EX, which was the test vehicle. The look is pleasing but not distinctive.Surely, if the Sedona didn’t have the Kia emblem on the grille, I’d be inclined to guess it was a Chrysler product. Chrysler was the minivan pioneer in America and continues to lead in overall minivan sales in the United States.
One of the benefits of a minivan is easy entry, and the Sedona doesn’t disappoint. At 5-foot-4, I could open the driver door and set myself on the seat without straining. Yet, as I drove, I sat a bit above traffic and had good views out.Power sliding side doors and power tailgate are options.The front two rows of seats – each row with two separate captain’s seats in the tester – felt spacious, and passengers didn’t sit right on top of each other.This comes in part because the new Sedona is wider and longer than its predecessor. At 202 inches in overall length, the Sedona is a tad longer than the 200.5-inch Dodge Grand Caravan and the 201-inch Honda Odyssey.Legroom in all three rows of the Sedona is greater than what’s in the Grand Caravan, and legroom is better than the Odyssey’s in all but the third row.With the rearmost, 50-50-split bench seat folded neatly into a cavity in the floor and second seats removed – they’re on rollers to aid removal but were still clumsy for me to maneuver – the Sedona has 141.5 cubic feet of cargo space. That’s about equal to the Grand Caravan and less than the Odyssey’s 147.4 cubic feet.The tester was mostly quiet inside, save for some suspension “ba-boom” over harsh bumps, some wind noise at highway speeds and an intermittent creaking that seemed to come when the seatback of one of the second-row seats was folded down.It had cloth fabric, not optional leather. Yet, the interior didn’t look downscale.This is in large part because Kia has done a good job of designing the dashboard, with a center stack area where buttons and knobs are large and sort of Lexus-like.I especially appreciated that the Sedona’s audio controls were up at the top of the stack, where they could be accessed without me having to take my eyes too far from the road. The wood-look trim, though, looked – and was – thoroughly plastic.There are nice touches. For example, all four separate seats in the two front rows have armrests.
Rear-seat passengers don’t have to suffer in summer’s stifling heat because tri-zone air conditioning is standard on all models. And windows on the second-row doors open.It was a simple maneuver to fold down the third row or get the third row seats up out of the floor and back into position.But the Sedona doesn’t offer all the factory options that are available on other minivans, such as navigation system and rear-camera backup assist.Its 3.8-liter, double overhead cam V6 with continuously variable valve timing comes from Hyundai’s flagship sedan, the Azera, and is a big improvement over the Sedona’s earlier V6 that struggled during acceleration and sounded strained at times.As in the Azera, power comes on smoothly and surprisingly quickly, working through a five-speed automatic. Engine sounds are confident.With regular gasoline, the Sedona’s V6 produces a competitive 242 horsepower and 251 foot-pounds of torque at 3,500 rpm.I did notice, however, that at startup the engine idled noisily and almost seemed to be set to a high rev, as if to warm up and get to optimum operating temperature quickly.2006 Kia Sedona EX- BASE PRICE: $22,995 for LX; $25,595 for EX.- AS TESTED: $26,265.
– TYPE: Front-engine, front-wheel-drive, seven-passenger minivan.- ENGINE: 3.8-liter, double overhead cam V6 with CVVT.- MILEAGE: 18 mpg (city), 25 mpg (highway).- TOP SPEED: NA.- LENGTH: 202 inches.- WHEELBASE: 118.9 inches.- CURB WEIGHT: 4,500 pounds.- BUILT AT: South Korea.- OPTIONS: None.- DESTINATION CHARGE: $670.
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