There are no innovations in the Kia Sedona. It is simply a well-executed, cut-price version of the modern minivan, and as such, it hits most of the high points for mainstream minivan buyers. Like Chrysler did for years, Kia offers both short- and long-wheelbase models, and although our long-wheelbase, top-spec EX test vehicle has a base price of $27,290, a base-model, short-wheelbase Sedona starts at less than $22K. All Sedonas are equipped with the same powertrain: a 244-hp, 3.8-liter V-6 mated to a five-speed automatic. By contrast, Chrysler and Dodge offer three V-6s in their respective minivans, and only the top-spec unit, a 4.0-liter V-6, offers as much power as the Hyundai-sourced V-6.
So, the Sedona offers what most people want in a minivan: front-wheel drive, convenient ingress and egress, a flip-up tray between the front seats, dual sliding side doors, and third-row seats that fold flat into a well in the floor, an innovation pioneered by Honda a decade ago. Power controls for the sliding doors and the rear hatch are standard on the EX, and the requisite flip-down DVD screen is available to keep the kids distracted. Leather, navigation, and heated front seats are all optional.
As for the V-6 powertrain, it's more than adequate, and it mates pretty well with the automatic. In terms of overall refinement, I'd say it's better than the Chrysler 4.0-liter V-6 but, not surprisingly, nowhere near as creamy as the V-6s in the Honda Odyssey and the Toyota Sienna.
Addendum: A week after I wrote the above, I drove the Kia Sedona again, to make a late-night run from Ann Arbor to the Detroit airport. The temperature had dropped to 27 or 28 degrees, but it was raining. Glare ice. Cars in ditches everywhere I looked on I-94. Tow trucks, police cars, ambulances. The Sedona held its own quite well. At times I was driving only 30 mph on the freeway, with the hazards on. The vehicle was very composed, and I didn't feel at all vulnerable. I was glad to be in it in these conditions.
Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor