First Drive: 2015 Kia Sedona

Crossovers and sport utilities are today what mammoth sedans were during the middle of the last century.

In other words, they are everywhere—a symbol of the times that will be forever etched in the history books.

But it wasn't that long ago that the minivan, with its sliding doors and bench seats, was the top people-mover going.

Nobody wanted them, yet everyone had them; the minivan's utility was only outmatched by its practicality in moving people, and their stuff, to everywhere from the grocery store to the cottage.

As minivan sales wane and once-dominant nameplates fade from the car-buying vocabulary—Ford and Chevrolet entries have long since bowed from the segment—Kia is taking a gamble that there is still a market for the multi-purpose vehicle, introducing a redesigned Sedona that relies on the traditional Kia value proposition of big-dollar features in a low-dollar price tag.

With its elongated hood and stylish front fascia, the new Sedona could easily be confused for a sport utility vehicle from the B-pillar forward.

What differentiates the Sedona from an SUV is its rear passenger and cargo space, along with the configurability that makes it distinctly an MPV.

(That moniker, by the way, is what Kia prefers to refer to the Sedona as: A “multi-purpose vehicle.” I still call it a minivan.)

Available in both seven- and eight-passenger configurations, the Sedona can be re-jigged in Rubik's Cube-like fashion to meet virtually any need.

Transporting people is a breeze thanks to three rows of seating, while moving cargo is equally simple with the stowable third row that easily folds into the floor for additional space when needed.

One hiccup does occur in the SXL trim, equipped with second-row captain's chairs, where the seats are not removable.

Cargo room is still generous, with 2,220 litres available behind the second row of seats, though sticking to the L, LX and SX models affords a full 4,022 litres with both rows of rear seats removed.

While the SXL's second-row seats are not removable, they do make up for it with convenience and comfort.

Sitting on tracks, the captain's chairs can be moved forward and back—and even side to side—to accommodate passengers and/or cargo, and also feature kick-out leg rests that turn the seats into mobile recliners.

Up front, the eight-way power adjustable driver and passenger seats prove comfortable while providing a commanding view of the road.

Add in the air-cooling function to the front seats, a feature only available in the SXL trim, and the Sedona is a dream on long-haul trips.

Swathed in two-tone Nappa leather, the Sedona SXL feels luxurious beyond its price point, with K900-esque appointments and accents—including tri-zone automatic climate control, wood grain door garnishes, and an optional eight-speaker Infinity audio system—adding sophistication to the Sedona's sensibility.

The UVO infotainment system is easy to use and understand, while the optional voice-activated navigation system proves to be a rock-solid road trip companion in unfamiliar territory.

Powered by a 3.3-litre direct-injected V6 that makes 276 horsepower and 248 lb.-ft. of torque, the Sedona is as quiet cruising on the highway as it is crawling through the city.

Fuel economy numbers from Kia—10.5 L/100 km on the highway and 14.2 L/100 km in the city—prove both fairly accurate and in line with the competition.

And without much competition out there—options are limited, with only Honda and Toyota stocking true minivans on dealer lots, while Nissan’s option is only available through special order—the Sedona is definitely worth a look thanks to its reasonable price and abundant features.

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