2006 Kia Sedona
This 2006 review is representative of model years 2006 to 2012.
By Ann Job of MSN Autos
If you had to guess what vehicle the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety called "the best minivan we've tested" for safety, what would you come up with?
A Toyota Sienna? The popular Honda Odyssey? The luxurious Chrysler Town & Country?
Actually, the 2006 Kia Sedona earned the insurance group's "top safety pick" designation in 2006 after frontal, side and rear crash tests.
The surprising development, which leapfrogged the seven-passenger Sedona over more well-known minivans on the market, came after Kia re-engineered its minivan for 2006.
The new, roomier Sedona with a more powerful, 242-horsepower V6 comes with a lengthy list of standard safety items that includes six airbags, a tire pressure monitor, traction control and anti-whiplash front-seat head restraints.
But a major differentiator was rear-end crashworthiness.
"Other minivans have earned good front and side ratings, but they haven't achieved a satisfactory level of rear crash protection,' said IIHS President Adrian Lund. "The Sedona stands out as the first to get a clean sweep of good ratings across the board."
"Many manufacturers haven't paid as much attention to occupant protection in rear crashes, compared with front and side crashes," Lund continued. "Kia deserves credit for designing the Sedona's seat/head restraints for protection in one of the most common kinds of commuter traffic crashes." The IIHS noted the most common reported injuries from a vehicle crash are neck injuries, and they are most likely to occur in rear-end crashes.
No longer cheapest minivan
It used to be the lowest-priced new minivan. But starting manufacturer's suggested retail price of approximately $23,000 puts it above some other vans, such as the smaller, 2007 Dodge Caravan SXT with regular wheelbase and 180-horsepower V6 and the 2007 Chevrolet Uplander and Saturn Relay twins with fewer standard safety features than the Sedona.
The Sedona also competes against the top-selling minivans—the Dodge Grand Caravan, which starts at more than $23,000 with 180-horsepower V6, and the Honda Odyssey, which starts at more than $25,000 with 244-horsepower V6.
Minivans are boring…
I know. They all sort of look alike in a mainstream way and have the same blockish shape.
But if buyers can get beyond the image, they can find that new minivans are impressively stocked with amenities and can offer great value.
Even the base Sedona LX comes standard with tri-zone air conditioning—good for stiflingly hot summer days—as well as separate "captain's chairs" in the second row and windows that go up and down in the second-row, sliding doors.
And because the Sedona is a Kia, it comes with the industry's top warranty—a full 10 years/100,000 miles for a limited powertrain warranty along with a basic bumper-to-bumper warranty for five years/60,000 miles.
Note that power sliding side doors and power tailgate are options.
The front two rows of seats of the Sedona felt spacious, and passengers don't sit right on top of each other. This comes in part because the new Sedona is wider and longer than its predecessor.
In fact, at 202 inches in overall length, the Sedona is a tad longer than the 200.5-inch Dodge Grand Caravan and the 201-inch Honda Odyssey.
Legroom in all three rows of the Sedona is greater than what's in the Grand Caravan, and the Sedona's legroom is better than the Odyssey's in all but the third row.
With the rearmost, 50/50-split bench seat folded neatly into a cavity in the floor and second-row seats removed—they're on rollers to aid removal but were still clumsy for me to maneuver—the Sedona has 141.5 cubic feet of cargo space.
This is about equal to the Grand Caravan and less than the Odyssey's 147.4 cubic feet.
Engine from a luxury sedan
So the Sedona's 3.8-liter, double overhead cam V6 with continuously variable valve timing comes from Hyundai's flagship sedan, the Azera, and is a big improvement over the Sedona's earlier V6 that struggled during acceleration and sometimes sounded strained.
Power now comes on smoothly and surprisingly quickly, working through a five-speed automatic in this van. Engine sounds are confident.
With regular gasoline, the Sedona's V6 produces a competitive 242 horsepower and 251 lb-ft of torque at 3500 rpm.
I did notice, however, in the test Sedona that at startup the engine idled noisily and almost seemed to be set to a high rev, as if to warm up and get to optimum operating temperature quickly.
Fuel economy is rated at 17 miles a gallon in city driving and 25 mpg on the highway in this second-generation Sedona.
This is less than the 20/28-mpg rating of Honda's Odyssey, which leads the class.
Note the Sedona's V6 also is in Hyundai's first minivan, the Entourage. Introduced as a 2007 model, the Entourage comes six years after the Kia Sedona initial debut in the U.S.
The Entourage is positioned as a more premium minivan and has a higher starting price of nearly $24,000.
Odds and ends
The tester had cloth fabric, not optional leather. Yet, the interior didn't look downscale.
The dashboard is well-arranged, with a center stack area where buttons and knobs are large and Lexus-like.
Faux wood trim, though, looked—and was—thoroughly plastic.
Nice touches include pull-down armrests on all four separate seats in the two front rows. Windows on second-row sliding doors open.
It was a simple maneuver to fold down the third row or get the third row seats up out of the floor and back into position.
But the Sedona doesn't offer all the factory options that are available on other minivans, such as navigation system.