Minivan mojo: Kia Sedona flies under the radar in shrinking minivan segment

2019 Sedona

Confession time. I like minivans. I always have. I don’t understand why the segment is dying. Minivans, in general, are much more useful than most SUVs on the road. They have more space, and more family-friendly and generally just give you more bang for your buck. But they aren’t cool. I get that. So, with all that mind, I drive a minivan this week. To make matters worse, it’s a minivan many haven’t even heard of or considered (outside of the big three).

But, the 2018 Kia Sedona is my favorite minivan of 2018. It has all those qualities I just mentioned with an emphasis on bang for the buck. With many of the top-tier minivans (Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna and Chrysler Pacifica) having bigger price tags, the Sedona comes in under the radar in many ways.


On looks, the Sedona fits the ho hum aesthetics of most minivans. There’s no cool or hip styling. The profile is so clearly a minivan. But at least it owns the styling cues and embraces its “minivan-ness”. The chrome-framed, honey-comb-like grille is the most eye-catching feature on the front of the Sedona. The grille has distinction, as a result. The back end feels a little dated, but if you’re buying a minivan, modern styling probably isn’t high on your check list.


The performance of the Sedona is a mixed bag of positives and negatives. The positive is the V6 engine. With a 3.3-liter V6 engine, the Sedona is powerful with 276 horsepower. It feels punchy off the line and at highway speeds. For a vehicle that weighs more than 4,700 pounds, it can really move. But the steering is not very responsive and that hurts the handling. There’s not really a van out there that is exhilarating to drive and the body control of the Sedona is disappointing. Additionally, the six-speed automatic transmission feels dated with lagging shifts and awkward downshifts. Despite all that, the Sedona’s performance at least offered me something more than just the boring performance of the competition. Is it fun to drive? Of course not. But at least it has some power and gives hints of excitement while you’re hauling your family around.


The interior of the Sedona is the biggest selling point of this van. For a vehicle with a lower-than-normal price tag, the Sedona’s interior challenges every vehicle in the segment. It’s not only spacious (all minivans are), but the road noise is minimum and the touch points are incredibly luxurious. The second row is available as both lounge-style or a bench seat. When appointed with the bench seat, there’s seating for eight passengers. My tester had the seven-passenger set up and the second row is so spacious as a result with ample shoulder room. Those seats recline somewhat and offer tremendous room to stretch out. I had adults in the third row and they attested to it being comfortable. Even the headroom was good for them.

In the front, the seating position is nice with heated and cooled seats and a heated steering wheel. My tester was the top-of-the-line SXL trim which had wood-grain style accents on the steering wheel and metallic accents on the side panels and dashboard. All-in-all, the Sedona felt classy inside.

The infotainment system is simple to use and integrates easily with smart phones through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.  The Sedona was fitted with numerous safety-oriented sensors like autonomous braking, blind spot detection, collision warning and smart cruise control.


There are five trim offerings for the Sedona, L, LX, EX, SX and SXL. The L starts at $27,000 making it one of the most affordable family-hauling vehicles on the road. My tester was the SXL with a base price of $42,000. With options like the Prestige Package (which brings the comfy lounging second-row seats and panoramic, all-encompassing moonroof as well as a rear entertainment package, and my tester had a final MSRP of $45,715. There is a lot of value to be found for a family in the Sedona.


The Sedona ranks near the bottom of the segment in fuel economy. It is worse than even some SUVs on the road with an EPA rating of 17 mpg/city and 22 mpg/highway. In a week’s worth of driving, I averaged only 19 mpg. That was disappointing and fuel economy is one of the big criticisms of the Sedona.

I feel better now that I unburdened myself of my minivan love confession. That makes me uncool, I can accept that. I’m a middle-aged man anyway, so my days of being hip are over. My friends and family would argue, I never was hip. Oh well.


2018 Kia Sedona SXL

Price/As tested price…………………….. $42,000/$45,715

Mileage…………………………………… 17 mpg/city; 22 mpg/hwy

Engine……………………………………… 3.3-liter V6

Horsepower…………………………… 276 hp/248 lbs./ft.

Transmission…………………………… Six-speed automatic

Drive Wheels……………………….. Front-wheel drive

Final Assembly Point………………… Gwangmyeong, Korea

Jimmy Dinsmore
For several years Jimmy Dinsmore has reviewed new vehicles, offering up a unique look and an interesting voice in his weekly column. Jimmy looks at vehicles from the consumer’s point of view. Light on the technical jargon, and lacking the cynicism that pervades many other auto reviews, Driver’s Side treats each vehicle fairly, offering a light-hearted take. Email him at - and follow him on Twitter @driversside.