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2018 Kia Sedona Review

2018 Kia Sedona Review
The 2018 Kia Sedona stays the same, while its key rivals launch themselves into a new family-car era.

Congratulations, you’re a family. Or you had one. Or maybe you want one. You’re shopping for a minivan, we take it? We assume a lot.

Since you’re here, we assume you want the most flexible, most useful, most safe vehicle you can buy. The 2018 Kia Sedona isn’t those things, but it’s close enough that it’s worth a bargain-hunting snoop.

The Sedona returns this year unchanged in Sedona L, LX, EX, SX, and SXL trims.

It incurs no major penalties in the styling department, but the Sedona doesn’t punch through any extra points, either. At one time the floating-canopy roof seemed avant garde, but have you seen the latest Honda Odyssey or Chrysler Pacifica? We think you should, generally. Inside, the Sedona’s cabin is old-school luxury, which telegraphs the Sedona’s aim at richer, post-family buyers.

A 276-horsepower V-6 couples with a 6-speed automatic and front-wheel drive to give the Sedona uninspired but competent acceleration. Gas mileage isn’t great; it lags the newer minivans, and so does the Sedona’s portly handling. A smothering ride quality makes up for a lot of tire squeal in corners, though.

Minivans make the most sense when they’re reconfigurable. The Sedona can fold its third row out of sight, but in the middle, it’s either a bench seat that slides and tucks up against the front chairs, or captain’s chairs that deliver a lounge ambiance but cut into usable space. We prefer our seats to hide under the van floor, but the Sedona’s omnipresent middle seats leave behind 142 cubic feet of space when folded down.

Crash-test scores are good, but the latest safety features are walled off in expensive trims and packages. Otherwise the Sedona’s well-outfitted with a simple infotainment system, leather, ventilated front seats, and Apple CarPlay in its most lavishly equipped models. A mid-line Sedona EX with a careful hand on the order sheet offers fine new-minivan value, but if we could, another few thousand would get us a state of the art family shuttle with a Honda or Chrysler badge.

Earth-shattering? Nope. The 2018 Kia Sedona is just glad you know it’s still here.

Style leads the conversation, but dull gets the job done. Remember Calvin Coolidge? There’s some Silent Cal in the Sedona’s shape, which looked fetching until the Chrysler Pacifica came along.

We give the Sedona a 4 here, deducting a point for the very meh cabin.

The minivan profile is two-box timeless, and the 2018 Sedona does well enough with what it’s been given on the outside. The grille sits upright, framed by LED running lights and a generally light touch on the chrome. The roof sails almost out of view, where the side glass steps up into the rear end. At the back the Sedona resembles the Sorento crossover, which is fine.

Get between the doors and the Sedona is a little chunky, without being cluttered. The horizontally laid-out instrument panel is a little boring, but swatches of piano-black trim and two-tone schemes help break up the landscape. Soft-touch materials adorn the higher trim levels on the dash and door, and there's a level of fine detail borrowed from upscale sedans such as the Cadenza and K900.

Minivans should ride well, and the 2018 Kia Sedona does.

The 2018 Kia Sedona counts a supple ride in the plus column. Otherwise, it’s a minivan, saddled with minivan weight and height, shorn of performance aspirations.

Hey, it’s not all bleak. We give it a 5 for performance, with a plus point for ride and a minus point for its transmission.

One engine rules them all: the Sedona sports a 3.3-liter V-6 that churns out 276 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. Without much of a fuss, it sends power to an 6-speed automatic of an older design, in an era where 10-speed and 9-speed rivals haven’t made much in fuel economy returns. More gears still would yield a quieter drivetrain, and possibly better gas mileage.
Power goes to the front wheels, and the Sedona’s chunky curb weight saps much of that power. Acceleration is just adequate. The Sedona can tow up to 3,500 pounds, but with up to eight passengers on board, the struggle is real.

With struts in front and multiple suspension links in back, the Sedona performs like the past generation of minivans. There’s some shake in the steering column, but it acquits itself well in the ride department. It damps the road well with big all-season tires, and doesn’t wander over the road crown.

Push it assertively into a corner, and the Sedona gives up all resistance. The tires howl, the body leans. Passengers join in, eventually. Best to leave that kind of juking to the Honda Odyssey or Chrysler Pacifica, two minivans with particularly clean road manners.

Comfort & Quality
It’s not the most flexible minivan, but the 2018 Kia Sedona is on par with Honda and Toyota.

Minivans were born in the 1980s and haven’t changed form since. There’s no need: sometimes, what we really need is a big box with seats.

The 2018 Sedona offers up excellent chairs for the front two rows of riders, and gets extra points for cargo space and flexibility. We hold back on the perfect-10 point since its third-row seats are the smallest of any minivan.

On the spec sheet, the Sedona checks in at 201.4 inches long, and rides on a 120.5-inch wheelbase. The Chrysler Pacifica and Honda Odyssey are larger, but not by much.

All around passengers, the Sedona does its best to hide things. Two glove boxes (one cooled), door bins, dash bins, a huge center console, the Sedona has a place for your small item. On top-end versions, there’s a tiered tray and a sliding armrest in the console. USB ports are within reach from most seats.

Front passengers have thickly padded and wide seats, divided by a wide center stack of controls. In the second row the Sedona ranges from two-passenger bench, to three-passenger bench, to a pair of sliding bucket seats. On most versions the second-row seats slide and tuck behind the front seats to maximize storage space, but only the third-row seat folds away, flush with the floor. A 4-by-8 sheet of plywood will fit in back, but only if it's loaded at an angle over the tipped forward second-row seats.

The plushest option, the second-row captain’s chairs, have movable head and leg rests, and the seats can move on a limited track from side to side, to make third-row access easier. The downside is, they can’t be removed.

The Sedona’s third row is smaller than rivals like the Sienna and Pacifica. There’s only a foot of step-in space behind the second row, and third-row head room is shy.

Fold it down, and fold down the second-row seats, and the Sedona offers up 142 cubic feet of storage. Some 78.4 cubes are available behind the second row, and a useful 33.9 cubes are free when all three rows of seats are occupied.

Great crash-test scores seem headed for change, and the 2018 Kia Sedona puts a high price on safety technology.

The Kia Sedona earns very good crash-test scores, but they’re not perfect. Its widely available safety technology makes up for some of that, but they’re expensive.

The NHTSA says the Sedona merits a five-star overall rating. Like most minivans, a four-star rating for rollover resistance spoils a perfect score.

The IIHS has called it a Top Safety Pick, but not for this year. With its “Poor” headlight rating and absent passenger-side crash scores, the IIHS dropped the Sedona from its award-winning roster.

All Sedonas have a rearview camera, but surround-view cameras only come on the most expensive SXL. The Sedona also offers features such as forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitors, but they’re standard only on the SXL, and cost thousands in bundled packages on Sedona LX minivans and higher trim levels.

The Kia Sedona ranges from inexpensive Groupon-style shuttle to pricey executive luxobus.

Kia sells the 2018 Sedona in a handful of versions, from base L trim through LX, EX, SX, and SXL, with prices that range from about $28,000 to $43,000.

We think the Sedona packs in lots of standard features and offers a cleanly designed infotainment system. All told, it’s a 7 for features.

All Sedona minivans come with power features, a rearview camera, keyless entry, a 5.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment, Bluetooth connectivity, seats for seven passengers, and 17-inch wheels.

Sedona LX models get a three-seat second-row bench for eight-passenger capacity, as well as a power driver seat and power sliding side doors. Options include leather upholstery, an Apple CarPlay-compatible infotainment system, and bigger wheels.

On the Sedona EX, Kia adds heated front seats, rear parking sensors, high-output USB ports, a cooled glove box, and a 3.5-inch driver information display. At the SX trim, the Sedona adds an 8.0-inch touchscreen, a power liftgate, Infinity premium audio, a power front passenger seat, ventilated front seats, and heated second-row seats.

The Sedona SXL? It’s loaded with keyless ignition, 19-inch wheels, wood trim, and surround-view cameras, but Kia will add second-row lounge seats, a dual-pane sunroof, and premium leather, if you must.

Kia’s UVO infotainment system shows up on nearly all models. It connects to the data world outside through your smartphone, not through an embedded data receiver. The system works very well, and can run apps from sources such as iTunes and Google Play, and can run Siri and Google local searches. It’s painless and voice-forward, unlike some tap-happy systems we loathe.

Fuel Economy
Gas mileage is average in the 2018 Kia Sedona.

The fuel economy of the 2018 Kia Sedona varies slightly, from model to model.

Most hover around 20 mpg combined, which earns the minivan a 6 on our green scale.

Base Sedonas are rated at 18 mpg city, 24 highway, 20 combined. Those models have an older power-steering system that lowers mileage slightly from Sedona SX and SXL models, which have more efficient electric power steering and more equipment. The changes raise EPA ratings to 18/25/21 mpg for the Sedona SX, and 17/22/19 mpg for the Sedona SXL.

None of those ratings are as good as those of the Honda Odyssey or the Chrysler Pacifica, the latter of which offers class-leading economy with its plug-in hybrid model.

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