By Robert Nichols
How many teenagers can say that the vehicle they learned to drive in was Turbocharged? Perhaps today this is more likely common as many manufacturers are using smaller engines and then boosting them to make them usable. But when I was 16 years old Turbochargers were something only found in sports cars; and if I am honest my parents minivan. Yes I learned to drive in a minivan. A Dodge Caravan with a 2.4L Mitsubishi sourced Turbocharged engine. It even had a TURBO decal, which in retrospect was cheesy. I liked my van, I could fit many friends in and driving to various mountain biking trails and events I was able to carry several bikes and their riders with ease. Why am I telling you this?
A while back I sacrificed a week of my life and test drove a minivan. The Van in question was the 2015 Kia Sedona SXL+.
This is the first minivan I have actually driven since my Dodge, and my how things have changed. The basic boxy shape is still around and with good reason as it allows you to fit in cumbersome items. But even the boxiness seems less boxy. The Sedona is actually a nice looking vehicle. It has received the brand wide front end treatments and the view from the side, dare I say, is sleek. Adding to this stylish vehicles attractiveness is the floating rear roof line and windows that get progressively narrower the further back they are. Even the roofline tapers off at the rear giving a pseudo-coupe like feel. The fully loaded test vehicle I was in had LED lights front and rear (front accent lights) and self leveling HID headlights. All tallied up this is easily the best looking minivan out there.
The interior is very well designed, looks fantastic and has some very cool second row reclining captain’s chairs with extendable foot rests. These seats do make accessing the third row a bit tricky and as they will not fold away, they can limit your access to easy cargo space. For parents with numerous small offspring the 8 seat layout is more suitable. The captain’s chairs are mounted to tracks and will move inward toward each other and then back so the lucky occupant can stretch out. This is the first vehicle wherein I have ever wanted to be the passenger instead of the driver.
The third row seats will fit an adult and are far more comfortable then the seats in my old Dodge. Best part is you do not have to remove them if you want to carry a large load. Behind the rear seats is a depression that allows for very tall items but the space will also accommodate the rear seats as they fold up in a slick mechanised motion and then you have a level load floor. Total space is impressive at 4,021L overall. With all of the seats upright there is still 960L behind the 60/40 split folding third row. Another very handy feature is the tailgate will open automatically without you having to kick your leg or even push a button. The vehicle assumes if you are standing there you must be burdened down with something and opens for you.
As is true of all Kia’s the Sedona offers you all the technology you could ever want as a driver with the exception of automatic parking. However, the bird’s eye view from the parking cameras make it a simple operation in even the trickiest spots, allowing you to cycle through the various camera views if you are uncertain how close an obstacle is, like a curb for instance. The Infinity stereo is great and even the base model has Bluetooth, satellite radio, 12 cup holders, USB and auxiliary jacks and active headrests to name just a few of the standard options. The fully loaded SXL+ will leave you wanting for nothing.
On the road the Sedona is smooth with enough power to merge, or pass safely. Specifically the 3.3L V6 engine pumps out 276 hp @6,000 rpm and 248 lb-ft @ 5,200 rpm. The engine will occasionally make a few unbecoming sounds, but you will not normally even hear it. The 6-speed automatic transmission works well also delivering smooth shifts. This combination provided me with very close to the estimated fuel economy figures which are: 14.2/10.5/12.5 L/100 km (City/Highway/Combined). Smooth and comfortable is the best way to describe the ride and handling. The suspension is firm enough to prevent any alarming levels of body roll and the use of more high strength steel has stiffened the chassis even further which aids the ride even more. Potholes are absorbed by the suspension and the passengers will not feel a thing.
The 2015 Kia Sedona SXL+ was an enjoyable vehicle to spend some time in. It goes against the minivan stereotypes of lacking style and only those who have given up on life drive these. The level of utility is second to nothing other than a full-size van, the safety and driver’s aid technology available will impress and the ability to haul all your friends and family with all their stuff in one vehicle makes a lot of sense.
Base Price: $27,695
Price As Tested: $48,044
- Space and Utility
- Good looking for a van
- Powerful and quiet
- Having to tell your friends you bought a minivan
- Chrysler Town & Country
- Dodge Grand Caravan
- Honda Odyssey
- Toyota Sienna