The 2009 Kia Sedona minivan is a consumer's best friend and a nightmare for rival manufacturers. In just a few short years, Kia has transformed the Sedona from a middle-of-the-road minivan into a first-rate people mover. With horsepower near the top of its class, a "Top Safety Pick" rating by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), seating for seven and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, it's hard to argue with the Sedona. Toss in a sticker price thousands less than a comparably-equipped Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna and the Sedona looks downright unbeatable. Of course, the Sedona's resale figures can't compare with its Japanese rivals, but if the initial bottom line is more important than what you might get come trade-in time, the Sedona should be at the top of your shopping list.
YOU'LL LIKE THIS CAR IF...
If you like saving money but won't sacrifice very much to do so, you'll be excited to see just how well the 2009 Kia Sedona stacks up against some of the category's finest.
YOU MAY NOT LIKE THIS CAR IF...
The Sedona's up-front collection of knobs and buttons isn't as attractive as some of its competitors' and its biggest disadvantage is its mediocre (but improving) resale value.
WHAT'S SIGNIFICANT ABOUT THIS CAR
All Sedonas receive a new AM/FM/CD stereo with MP3 USB-input port and a three month subscription to SIRIUS Satellite Radio. A new navigation audio unit is now available on the EX trims.
Impressive cornering limits (which will rarely, if ever, be explored in the real world) combine with a powerful engine and smooth-shifting five-speed automatic transmission to provide an around-town eagerness that makes the Sedona as enjoyable to drive as any minivan on the road. It's also pleasant enough on the highway, with comfortable seating and interior noise levels that allow for easy three-row conversations. While its 39.6-foot turning circle isn't out of line for a vehicle of its size, the Sedona isn't as maneuverable in tight parking lots as some of its competitors. Getting people and cargo into and out of the Sedona – one of the more important tasks for a minivan to do well – is easy, especially when equipped with power sliding doors and a power liftgate.
OUR FAVORITE FEATURES
7.1 Surround Sound System
An available 13-speaker, 660-watt Infinity audio system features front- and second-row center-channel speakers and delivers impressive music and movie performance.
Even though it isn't the most responsive manu-matic transmission, the ability to choose your own gears will be especially welcomed by those that also appreciate the Sedona's relatively eager handling.
The Sedona's seven-passenger layout consists of two second-row, removable, reclining captain's chairs with a one-touch fold-and-flip function that allows for easy access to a three-passenger third row; when you've got more cargo than people to transport, the 60/40-split third row folds flat into the floor. Highlights include second-row opening windows and a multitude of storage options like dual glove boxes. Shortcomings consist of a gauge cluster that's unexciting, a center control panel that's uninspired and available wood-look trim that's reminiscent of wood-paneled wagons and dens from the Brady Bunch era. That our loudest grumblings concern relatively minor matters of interior aesthetics is indicative of just how far the Sedona – and Kia – have come.
Except for its vertical taillamps, the Sedona doesn't carry itself much differently than a Toyota Sienna, which wouldn't be impossible to mistake for a Honda Odyssey. The Kia is also about the same size as those competitors, if not a little longer, taller and wider than both. Base models come in short wheelbase guise, while the LX and EX trims have longer wheelbases. The Sedona EX trims are differentiated externally from entry LX versions by 17-inch aluminum wheels (versus 16-inch covered steel wheels), fog lights and roof rails.
NOTABLE STANDARD EQUIPMENT
In addition to a 3.8-liter V6 and a five-speed automatic transmission, the base Sedona LX includes tri-zone air conditioning, power locks, power mirrors, power windows, dual sliding rear doors, cruise control, AM/FM/CD sound system with auxiliary and USB inputs, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, second-row captain's chairs, remote keyless entry, tilt steering wheel, cloth interior, 16-inch covered steel wheels and several storage compartments. An impressive list of standard safety equipment includes front, front-side and three-row side-curtain airbags, advanced anti-lock brakes (ABS), tire pressure monitoring system, Electronic Stability Control and traction control.
Stepping up to the Sedona EX adds fog lights, power driver's and front passenger's seats, heated mirrors, auto-dimming rearview mirror, HomeLink, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, power third-row vent windows, compass, 17-inch alloy wheels and wood-like trim that's contained to the center of the dash. LWB LX options include power sliding side doors and rear backup sensors. Options available only on EX models include navigation, leather seating, heated front seats, driver's-position memory, sunroof, power sliding doors and liftgate, power-adjustable pedals, front-row automatic climate control, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, an Infinity 7.1 Surround Sound system with an in-dash six-disc CD changer and rear DVD entertainment system with two wireless headsets. There's also a less sophisticated rear DVD entertainment system that's available on both LX and EX models.
UNDER THE HOOD
The Sedona's 24-valve, all-aluminum powerplant with continuously variable valve timing makes it one of the most powerful minivans on the road. Combined with a responsive five-speed automatic transmission, the Sedona merges, passes and deals with traffic with ease, whether it's on the highway or headed to the supermarket.
244 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
253 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23
The short-wheelbase Sedona has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting around $22,000 while a fully-loaded EX tops out around $33,000. New Car Blue Book Values reflect real-world transaction prices, so be sure to check them before you buy. Also, be sure to click on the Incentives tab to see what deals the manufacturer is offering. A comparably equipped Toyota Sienna, Chrysler Town & Country or Honda Odyssey will cost thousands more. And while Kia's impressive 10-year/100,000-mile limited warranty works in the Sedona's favor, predicted resale values that fall well short of the category's best can neutralize the up-front savings versus the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna and the bigger Nissan Quest.