2016 Kia Sedona SXL

New Kia Sedona improves on solid packagesedona

I had driven the new Kia Sedona early this year and frankly, it had a few issues.

I liked much the minivan had to offer then, and now. But I’m most impressed that all of my earlier concerns seem to have been tended to within the first year. The 2015 model I tested had vague steering, a sometimes choppy ride in back, a heavy feel and a psycho radio that jumped from FM to AM to satellite like a Kardashian trying to choose a new boyfriend.

The tested 2016 SXL, a dark blue metallic top-of-the-line model, had none of those issues.

Steering, and there are three choices at the push of a button, was much more responsive, no matter the mode. Normal delivers a firmer feel, but not as heavy as it seemed in my previous test. Eco mainly tweaks acceleration, or I should say, tames it to increase gas mileage. While the comfort setting delivers a lighter feeling wheel, but not as sloppy and vague as before.

sedona2Last time I drove the Sedona was in January, so I suspect its stiff rear suspension was a product of cold winter weather, not a standard feature. This model rode smooth and well controlled in all circumstances, including a drive on some of Bayview’s bumpiest streets.

The heavy feel of the earlier test drive was handled, I feel, by this van’s steering being more responsive. And the psycho radio? Well, there are so many electronic gadgets in today’s cars it’s a wonder more don’t go on the blink more often. I had no issues with this one. Dial in a station, touch the screen and it locks in the channel. I was relieved. Nothing makes for a longer week’s test drive than a non-functional radio.

As stated back in January, the Sedona is a fine minivan from many perspective, a key one being that this one will seat up to 8 passengers, with a second row bench. The interior is quiet and Sedona looks sharp too, at least as sharp as a minivan can look. Kia uses a less angled nose that it believes makes Sedona look more like an SUV.sedona1

I like the 3.3-liter V6 engine, which features continuously variable valve timing and direct injection to give it 32 more horses than earlier models’ 3.5-liter V6. While no speedster, the van gets up to highway speeds in a respectable distance and without much engine noise to bother the folks inside. I didn’t have any engine hesitation coming out of turns either, a concern during my earlier test.

The 6-speed automatic is smooth and efficient too. And braking is good, with traction and stability control standard. The SXL comes with 19-inch tires, up from 18-inchers on lower level models.

sedona5There are plenty of those too (5 levels), the base L model starting at $27,295 and still featuring the same engine and transmission as this top level SXL. The test van starts at $39,900 with an $895 delivery fee. This one also added a tech package for $2,800 and a rear-seat entertainment system for the wee ones, at $1,095. The screen for that flips up from the rear of the front seat’s center console, a bit different than other vans. Most screens flip down from the roof.

No matter how you equip your van though, the Sedona is quiet inside, an improvement from earlier models.

Interior room is generous, no one will feel cramped.

The SXL features a third row seat that folds down into the cargo area behind the seats. That area is deep too, so even with three rows of seats in place you can carry a hefty amount of cargo. Middle row seats slide up and back to create more legroom too. So if the third row is folded down and you’re carrying cargo and kids, the second row passengers can adjust the seats to boost legroom. Kia calls these Slide-N-Stow seats, and they are standard even on the base L model. They flip forward and stow against the front seat backs.sedona4

The test van’s dash was light gray over charcoal gray, same for the doors and seats. The SXL features leather seating. There was black gloss trim around the dash gauges and screen and on the console. Fit and finish look great.

I liked the seats, which were fairly flat, but comfortable with mild side contouring on the seat bottom and backs. The driver’s seat includes power lumbar support and two-memory settings, controlled by buttons on the door.

Sedona’s dash layout is attractive with two main gauges and a large digital computer readout between the speedometer and tach. All buttons, and there continue to be 21, on the dash are large and easy to use, as are five knobs to adjust the radio and dual heat controls. Even the buttons on the touchscreen radio are large and easy to use. Past experience tells me you may need to remove gloves in winter to use the touchscreen though.

Kia wisely puts buttons to open the power sliding side doors and hatch on the key fob and overhead inside the van.

Plenty of room in back, seats up or down.
Plenty of room in back, seats up or down.

Standard is a voice-command navigation system, blind-spot warning system, Infinity surround sound audio system, back-up camera, heated steering wheel and UVO telematics. Warning, the van’s heated wheel gets very hot, so you’ll likely want to turn it off after a few minutes, although the test van also had a wood portion atop the wheel that did not heat up. So you could rest your hands there once the wheel warms.

The technology package adds a lane departure and forward collision warning system, Xenon headlights, smart cruise control, chrome side sill trim and a 115V power inverter in the cargo area. The package also includes a surround view monitor, which is helpful in tight parking spots, plus just cool to watch as you back up.

Gas mileage was better with the 2016, but the weather during my test drive was much warmer than in January. I got 19.9 mpg this time in about 60% city driving. That compares with 17.2 mpg in similar driving, but in below freezing temps on the earlier test. The EPA rates this van at 17 mpg city and 22 mpg highway.

The test van listed at $44,690. Sadly that’s not all that high for a top-level minivan. But there are so many trims, you can find one in a price range that may better suit your budget.

Kudos to Kia for improving an already strong competitor in the minivan market.

FAST STATS: 2016 Kia Sedona SXL sedona3

Hits: Quiet, nice driving van that seats eight. Good feature content – power hatch, sliding side doors, third seat folds into cargo floor, heated/cooled seats, heated wheel, blind-spot warning, efficient dash layout, large dash buttons, big touchscreen buttons and entertainment unit for kids.

Misses: Big A-pillar blind spot

Made in: South Korea

Engine: 3.3-liter, CVVT V6, 276 hp

Transmission: 6-speed automatic/Sportmatic

Weight: 4,656 lbs.

Length: 201.4 in.

Wheelbase: 120.5 in.

Cargo: 62.1 cu.ft.

MPG: 17/22 (EPA)

MPG: 19.9 (tested)

Base Price: $39,900

Dealer’s Price: $38,223 (includes delivery)

Major Options

Technology package (Xenon HID headlights/high-beam assist, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, surround view monitor, smart cruise control, chrome side sill trim, cargo area 115V power inverter), $1,550

Rear seat entertainment system, $1,095

Delivery: $895

Test vehicle: $44,690

Sources: Kia, www.autos.yahoo.com

Photos: Mark Savage

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