Shopping for a minivan? Can’t say I blame you. They’re generally more spacious, more affordable, and more user-friendly for families than the similarly sized SUVs that are currently in vogue. The 2020 Kia Sedona doesn’t have some of the features that tend to draw people to this segment, like second-row seats that fold into the floor, or an on-board vacuum. It also doesn’t come with all-wheel drive – if that’s important to you, the Toyota Sienna is your only minivan option. But the Sedona does offer plenty of style, usability, and build quality at a relatively reasonable price.
A stable and composed way to move a lot of people.
Of the minivans currently on the market, I rank this as one of the most handsome. The front face is stylish and proportionate, and the side is kept tidy with clean lines. The one thing that detracts from it is the track for the sliding door, which Kia hasn’t yet disguised in the rear window as other automakers have. The interior is similarly attractive, using layers of varying materials and stitching in a classy layout that conveys a sense of quality.
The Sedona can be equipped with a number of safety features, but you’ll need to pay more for most of them. The 2020 Sedona has a significantly streamlined set of trims over last year’s version, and the SX trim represents the least-expensive way within the lineup to get blind spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert, priced at $40,490 with delivery fees. There’s a longer list equipped on this top-of-the-line SX Tech model, including lane-departure warning, driver attention warning, automatic high-beams, forward collision avoidance, and active cruise control with stop-and-go. Getting those features will cost you $3,100 more.
Any minivan is automatically toward the top of the most practical vehicles you can buy. The Sedona stands out for its easily movable second-row seats that give access to third row, which drop with relatively low effort. However, it doesn’t get an exceptionally high score here because it’s missing some of the features that make some competitors truly excel. Some people really love an on-board vacuum, for example – although with so much space in the back, it wouldn’t be terribly difficult to carry a handheld around.
But the kicker is that to access the entire 4,022 litres of cargo space behind the first row, the second-row seats need to be removed and stored. FCA’s minivans are the only ones with second-row seats that fold flat into the floor, but they sell as well as they do for good reason.
User Friendliness: 8/10
For the most part, the Sedona is well-considered from a usability standpoint. I took four passengers on a three-hour drive, and whenever one of them went looking for a button to open a sliding door, another cupholder, or a USB port, it was never far away. My one gripe is that the layout of the ignition button, then the air vent, and then the 7-inch infotainment screen puts the controls on the right side of the screen quite a long reach away for all but the most gangly drivers.
There are some surprising elements here, both positive and negative. On the upside, heated front seats and steering wheel are standard, as are keyless entry and a cooling glove box. A wireless phone charger is standard equipment from the LX trim – which is especially interesting since Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality are also standard, and any phone that’s using them needs to be plugged in and would therefore be charging anyway, making the charging pad somewhat redundant, albeit useful to other passengers.
On the other hand, leather upholstery and dynamic low-beam headlights are SX Tech features; and ventilated seats aren’t available at all, nor are heated outboard seats for the second row.
The sole powerplant available for the Sedona is a 3.3-litre naturally aspirated V6 that makes 276 hp at 6,000 rpm and 248 lb-ft of torque at 5,200 rpm. Across the segment, these figures are slightly lower than average. The difference in how it comes across in real life, though, is nearly imperceptible. Although it takes a while for power to pick up while getting up to speed, it feels stout enough once it’s there, and the eight-speed automatic gearbox does a good job of keeping things where they need to be.
As far as the Sedona’s comfortable seats and spaciousness go, consider me impressed. On that three-hour drive I mentioned, we shoved a 6'4" trooper of a man into the third row for the duration. Not only did he not complain, he claimed he was downright comfortable. I believe his exact words were, “It’s more comfortable than flying coach!” The rest of us were living large in comparison with plenty of room to spread out and to store drinks, snacks, and devices along the way. I’m especially enamoured with the fact that the layout seats eight, but if you don’t need the middle seat on the second row, it drops to become an armrest with cupholders for the two outboard seats. They may not be captain’s chairs, but with kids, this is easier and more functional.
Driving Feel: 8/10
For the most part, the Sedona comes across as a stable and composed way to move a lot of people or things around. It can get a little bit bouncy over vertical bumps in the road, but most minivans do.
Front-wheel drive is the only configuration available here, which worked out fine for this week of testing with its beautiful and clear late spring weather. For the type of winter driving that most people are likely to do in a vehicle like this, fitting winter tires on the standard 17-inch wheels – or the 18-inch wheels that are added at the SX trim – should do the job in most cases.
Fuel Economy: 7.5/10
The Sedona’s fuel economy as rated by Natural Resources Canada is a little higher than average for the segment at 12.7 litres per 100 kilometres in the city, 9.9 on the highway, and 11.5 combined. My week with it, which saw roughly 75 percent highway driving, saw me wrap up having used 10.5 L/100 km.
The perception of value here really depends on one’s priorities. Yes, you need to be willing to give up a few things that other minivans offer. But particularly in its lower trims, Kia has packed a lot of good looks and desirable features into a well-priced package that in some ways looks more costly than it really is.
It’s getting harder to find vehicles that can move seven to eight people around at once, and that are also well-equipped, for less than $45,000. It may not have some of the niceties that Kia has become known for like heated rear seats, or some of the prized features of its competition like fold-away second-row seats. But if what you need most is a way to move a crowd that’s handsome and modern-looking but doesn’t break the bank, the Sedona is a solid option.
|Peak Horsepower||276 hp @ 6,000 rpm|
|Peak Torque||248 lb-ft @ 5,200 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||12.7/9.9/11.5 L/100 km city/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||960 / 2,220 / 4,022 L behind 3rd/2nd/1st row|
|Model Tested||2020 Kia Sedona SX Tech|
|Price as Tested||$43,590|