2002 Kia Sedona LX
2002 Kia Sedona LX
Click image to enlarge

by Greg Wilson

The newest and least expensive minivan on the market, the 2002 Kia Sedona is a well-equipped, V6-powered, front-wheel-drive minivan about the size of a Toyota Sienna. It includes such standard features as seven passenger seating, a 195 horsepower V6 engine, 5 speed automatic transmission, front and rear air conditioning, and split flip-and-fold third row seats. A new 5 year/100,000 km warranty is standard. Prices range between $24,595 (LX) and $27,595 (EX).

Lowest priced minivan is well-equipped

The 2002 Kia Sedona is a new front-wheel-drive, V6-powered Korean-built minivan that’s about the size of a Toyota Sienna minivan – that’s somewhere between a Chrysler Caravan and a Chrysler Grand Caravan.

The Sedona has most of the popular features that typical minivan owners – ie. parents with young children or teenagers – want in a family vehicle. These include standard seven passenger seating with removeable/foldable rear seats, V6 power and an automatic transmission, dual sliding rear doors, low step-in height, elevated seating positions with a good view of the road, and ‘car-like’ driving manners.

In addition, the Sedona has some standard features that other minivans don’t have, such as a standard 5-speed automatic transmission (the 2002 Honda Odyssey is the only other minivan with that feature); standard front and rear air conditioning; second and third row seats that slide forwards and backwards; a second row seat that can be positioned on either side of the cabin (only the Mazda MPV has that); and the best warranty on the market: a 5 year/100,000 km warranty that covers the whole vehicle and powertrain.

Oh, and did I mention that, comparably equipped, the Sedona is the least expensive minivan in Canada? Base LX models start at $24,595, and well-equipped EX models are $27,595. Compare that to a Toyota Sienna which starts at $29,060, Chevrolet Venture which begins at $27,280, Dodge Caravan at $25,430, and Mazda MPV at $25,505.

On the negative side, the Sedona is available in one size only – there’s no short wheelbase or extended wheelbase version. Some popular features are just not available: power sliding rear doors, traction control, side airbags, curtain airbags, and rear ultrasonic obstacle sensors are not on the option list. Worst of all, the base Sedona LX model is not available with anti-lock brakes (the EX is). This important safety feature should be available on the base model, at least as an option.

Another Sedona weak point is its fuel consumption – it’s well below average for minivans, in part because the Sedona’s curb weight of 2136 kg (4709 lb.) is well above average. The engine does use Regular fuel, though.

High level of standard equipment

2002 Kia Sedona LX
2002 Kia Sedona LX
Click image to enlarge

Except for the lack of anti-lock brakes, the base Sedona LX model is very well-equipped. Standard features include a 195 horsepower 3.5 litre DOHC 24 valve V6 engine, a 5-speed automatic transmission, seven seats that fold, slide, and remove, dual sliding rear doors with child locks, front and rear (second row) air conditioning/heating with separate controls, power windows with automatic driver’s down feature, power door locks and central locking, AM/FM/CD player, tilt steering column, power heated mirrors, height-adjustable head restraints, and 15 inch tires.

Also standard is a 5 year/100,000 km warranty, a 5 year/100,000 km powertrain warranty, a 5 year/100,000 km corrosion warranty, and 5 years of free roadside assistance! This is currently the longest warranty available in a minivan. And it cleverly addresses the consumer’s biggest fear: the Sedona’s unknown reliability record.

The top-of-the-line Sedona EX, $27,595, adds standard anti-lock brakes to the front disc/rear drum setup, and such appearance and comfort items as alloy wheels, two-tone paint, chrome grille, woodgrain interior trim, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift lever, power front seats, remote keyless entry, second-row captain’s seats, and cassette player. The only options available are leather seats and a power moonroof.

Clearly, the Sedona is an excellent value.

Interior has versatile seating arrangements

2002 Kia Sedona EX
Kia Sedona EX radio shown
Click image to enlarge

The Sedona’s interior is classic minivan: two front bucket seats with walk-thru to the second row, a two-person second row bench, and a three-person third row bench. The standard cloth front seats have folding inboard armrests and a high hip point which provides an upright driving position that is both comfortable and affords good outward visibility. Visibility to the front and sides is very good — the side and rear windows are large, and the second row head restraints are designed so as not to obstruct rear vision. However, the third row head restraints do obstruct rear visibility, and I’d recommend taking them out when the seat is not in use.

The driver faces an attractive, well-finished instrument panel including three, metal-rimmed gauges with large, easy to read numerals, a central instrument panel with a high-mounted AM/FM/CD stereo and an open storage area for CD’s below it, and a heater/air conditioning system with four easy to use dials for fan, vent, heat and rear fan control. Lights and variable intermittent wipers are on the left and right stalks respectively. The lower console has a 12 volt powerpoint and two pull-out cupholders with ratchet-type grips to prevent cups from tipping. There’s also an overhead storage compartment for sunglasses and garage door opener that also includes map lights and a digital clock.

2002 Kia Sedona EX
Kia Sedona EX shown
Click image to enlarge

Some unique features in the Sedona’s interior include a covered storage bin on the top of the dash; a transmission lever that protrudes from the console and is closer to the driver’s right hand; two gloveboxes for the front passenger; a wiper de-icer feature that heats the windshield glass under the wipers; height-adjustable driver’s seat cushion that tilts in the front and rear of the cushion, and upper and lower door pockets in the front doors.

Central locking is standard, but remote keyless entry is offered only on the EX model. When locking and unlocking all the doors from the driver’s door, the rear hatch also locks and unlocks.

Other useful features include an open coin tray on the left side of the dash, and a rear intermittent wiper.

The Sedona has large front and rear doors — the rear sliding doors are easy to open and have large pull-type handles on the outside and big levers on the inside.

The second row and third row seats are quite comfortable – both rows slide forwards and backwards to increase legroom, both rows have reclining seatbacks for improved comfort, and both rows have outboard height-adjustable head restraints to support the head when resting. Legroom and headroom in the second row is generous but third row headroom is minimal for anyone over 5′ 10″. Also, the third row seat is really only wide enough for two adults or three children.

2002 Kia Sedona EX
Kia Sedona EX interior shown
Click image to enlarge

Rear passengers in the Sedona are treated well. Second row passengers have a separate fan control for the rear heater/air conditioner, outboard folding armrests, two pull-out cupholders located under the centre of the seat, map pockets on the back of the front seats, two overhead map lights, two air vents, and two grab handles.

On the left side of the third row seat is a covered storage bin, two cupholders, a 12 volt powerpoint (for video games), and an overhead map light and air vent; on the right side are another two cupholders, map light and air vent. The rear side windows flip out for ventilation.

With the third row seats in place, the cargo area is only about a foot deep, however the design of the rear seats provides a lot of options to increase cargo space. Both split third row seats can be slid forwards on their tracks and their backrests can folded flat, or they can be ‘tumbled’ against the second row seats (with the head restraints removed), or they can be removed individually (they have wheels to move them around). I found it easiest to tumble one or both of them forwards – taking them out of the van is cumbersome and you have to find a place to put them. Also, with one side tumbled forwards, it’s still possible to carry up to six passengers (the third row seats have three seatbelts) and some cargo. This is not possible in minivans that have a single third row bench seat.

My only criticism of the Sedona’s cargo-carrying capacity is that if you’re taking seven people on a long trip, there’s not enough room behind the third seat for everyone’s luggage.

The rear lift-up hatch has a pull-type handle and is easy to lift. The cargo area includes a 12 volt power outlet for a cooler or other electrical device.

Driving impressions

2002 Kia Sedona LX
2002 Kia Sedona LX
Click image to enlarge

Despite a hefty curb weight of 2135 kg (4709 lb.), the Sedona offers reasonable acceleration, braking and handling in its class. With 195 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 218 lb-ft of maximum torque at a relatively low 3500 rpm, the Sedona’s 3.5 litre V6 engine offers above-average low-end throttle response and average highway passing power. According to recent AJAC performance tests, the Sedona accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 10.8 seconds – that’s as fast as a Toyota Sienna which has 210 horsepower and weighs 360 kg (796 lb.) less! The AJAC performance tests rated the Sedona’s 80 to 120 km/h passing performance at 8.5 seconds, also about average for this class. I credit its reasonable acceleration times to its relatively large-displacement 3.5 litre V6 engine and generous low-end torque.

AJAC braking tests reveal that the Sedona stops in about the same distance as its competitors, despite its extra weight and lack of four wheel disc brakes. A Sedona EX with ABS stopped from 100 km/h to 0 in 43 metres (141 feet), about the same as a 2002 Honda Odyssey.
The Sedona’s ride is very comfortable, and the cabin is very quiet. Handling is sure-footed and stable but the Sedona feels a bit front-heavy — this is not unusual in a minivan, but perhaps it’s more pronounced in the Sedona because it’s heavier. Also, the turning diameter of 12.4 metres (41.4 ft.) is quite wide and makes tight turns difficult.

I was impressed with the smoothness of the V6 engine at idle and while accelerating, and the responsive, willing, smooth 5 speed automatic transmission. The body is tight and there’s little noise and vibration coming from the chassis. I noticed a slight whine from the transmission, but that could be because the interior was so quiet.

On the freeway, the Sedona is very comfortable. It tracks well at high speed, is resistant to side winds, and the variable engine-speed sensitive steering is easy to use at slow or high speeds. At a steady cruising speed of 100 km/h, the Sedona’s engine does just 1,900 rpm, and at 120 km/h it’s 2,300 rpm, very low engines speeds that reduce engine noise and vibration.

With such low engine speeds, you’d expect reasonable fuel consumption, but the Sedona is below average here. In the city it offers 15.5 l/100 km (18 mpg) and on the highway it’s 10.8 l/100 km (26 mpg). Compare that to a Honda Odyssey which has a 240 horsepower 3.5 litre V6 engine and 5 speed automatic transmission — in city driving, the Odyssey offers 13.1 l/100 km (22 mpg) and in highway driving it offers 8.5 l/100 km (33 mpg).


You can’t beat the Sedona for value — it’s better equipped and costs less than its competitors — and it has a better warranty. It’s also a very comfortable, roomy van with versatile seating arrangements and plenty of standard comfort features such as rear air conditioning. Sore points with the Sedona are lack of ABS on the base model, its poor fuel consumption, and lack of some popular features such as power sliding rear doors. But if you can live with those faults, the Sedona is a great buy.

Technical Data:

2002 Kia Sedona LX
Base price $24,595
Type 4-door, 7 passenger minivan
Layout transverse front engine/front-wheel-drive
Engine 3.5 litre V6, DOHC, 24 valves
Horsepower 195 @ 5500 rpm
Torque 218 @ 3500 rpm
Transmission 5 speed automatic
Tires P215/70R-15
Curb weight 2136 kg (4709 lb.)
Wheelbase 2910 mm (114.6 in.)
Length 4930 mm (194.1 in.)
Width 1895 mm (74.6 in.)
Height 1730 mm (68.1 in.)
Fuel consumption City: 15.5 l/100 km (18 mpg)
  Hwy: 10.8 l/100 km (26 mpg)
Fuel type Regular unleaded
Warranty 5 yrs/100,000 km
Powertrain warranty 5 yrs/100,000 km

Connect with Autos.ca