2006 Kia Sedona EX Luxury Package
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Review and photos by Jil McIntosh

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Overall, minivans tend to get a bum rap in the automotive world. They’re derided as “soccer mom” vehicles, and it’s hard to imagine anyone getting excited about the latest model. But for all that, they’re incredibly versatile and useful: if you need to move people around easily and comfortably, they’re hard to beat. They’re car-like to drive, and depending on the models you’re comparing, they tend to be roomier and more fuel-efficient than SUVs.

For 2006, Kia has completely redesigned its Sedona minivan; the new version uses a 3.8-litre V6 in place of the 3.5-litre of 2005, with an increase from 195 hp to 242 hp; it’s also larger, and now comes with six airbags, including curtain bags that cover all three rows of seats. The redesigned version also shows up at Hyundai, where it’s sold as the 2007 Entourage, the first minivan offered by that brand.

Rather than offer add-on options, Kia bundles its features into trim lines, starting with the base LX at $29,495. That includes backup warning system, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, heated mirrors, tri-zone air conditioning, CD player, cruise control, 16-inch wheels, tire pressure monitoring system and tinted glass. The EX is $31,895, and adds several features, including 17-inch alloy wheels, power driver’s seat, roof rack and fog lamps.

2006 Kia Sedona EX Luxury Package
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From there, you can go to the EX with Power Package, at $33,395, which adds power sliding doors and liftgate, power-adjustable pedals, garage door opener, rain-sensing wipers and auto-dimming rearview mirror; or to my tester, the EX with Luxury Package. It builds on the Power Package by adding electronic stability control, traction control, heated leather seats, automatic climate control, memory for seat, pedals and mirrors, sunroof and woodgrain accents, for $36,395.

The sole factory option is a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, which can be added to the three lower levels but not the sunroof-equipped Luxury Package. That’s no great loss, but parents who prefer plugging their children into the latest Disney flick instead of interacting with them may look at Hyundai, which throws in the DVD on its Entourage GLS ($35,695) and GLS Leather ($37,195) lines.

2006 Kia Sedona EX Luxury Package

2006 Kia Sedona EX Luxury Package
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At 3020 mm (118.9 in.), the Sedona is considered a “long-wheelbase” version, which means extra room and comfort for passengers. DaimlerChrysler still has the edge with its Stow ‘n Go fold-into-the-floor second-row seats, but the Sedona’s second row can be removed entirely. When the third row of seats is upright, there’s a deep storage well behind them; the seats can also be folded down into this well to form a flat floor. Remove the second row, fold the third, and you’ve got a cargo van.

There’s also a great deal of small-item storage, including a cupholder-equipped tray between the front seats that can be folded out of the way, twin gloveboxes, overhead sunglasses compartment, a pull-down bin in the centre stack that holds CDs, and a passenger storage bin with cupholder.

2006 Kia Sedona EX Luxury Package
Click image to enlarge

The 3.8-litre V6 is strong enough to move the Sedona even when it’s full of passengers and gear; Kia advertises it as 244 hp, but that’s with premium fuel; use 87 octane, and it’s rated at 242 hp. It accelerates well off the line, and it’s quiet; in combined driving, I got 11.6 L/100 km (24 mpg Imp).

Unfortunately, the rest of the van isn’t always as tranquil. It’s fine on smooth asphalt, but get onto even slightly rough pavement, and the Sedona rattles and squeaks. I wasn’t able to nail down all of the noises, but most appeared to be coming from the seats and interior body panels. When I was driving the Hyundai Entourage, I asked a representative how the company could justify the Entourage’s higher price; one of the reasons, he said, was that Hyundai builds the vehicle to higher in-plant quality standards.

2006 Kia Sedona EX Luxury Package
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At the time, I dismissed it as corporate-speak, but I have to admit, when I drove the Entourage along the same roads and under the same conditions, it didn’t rattle.

The fit-and-finish on the Sedona’s instrument cluster is good; this company has come a long way in a short period of time. I’m not keen on the woodgrain, but it does break up the huge plastic dash; the centre vents can be closed completely, and the stereo is simple, with big buttons and dials. I did find the automatic climate control slightly more complicated than it should be, though, given that this is the type of vehicle where the driver’s concentration is often divided between watching traffic and refereeing occupants of the rear seats.

2006 Kia Sedona EX Luxury Package
Click image to enlarge

Other controls are simple and easily accessible: the power seat moves through buttons on the door, and audio and cruise controls are integrated into the wheel. I wasn’t impressed with the rain-sensing wipers, although that’s more inherent to the breed: I’ve tried them in everything from this Kia to cars priced in excess of $100,000, and I’ve not had one yet that copes well with drizzle. Either they don’t come on when needed, or they keep wiping on dry glass. Give me variable intermittent wipers and be done with it, please.

My final quibble was with the power liftgate, which opens far too slowly. Still, when your hands are full, it’s nice to be able to hit the key fob and have the liftgate swing up so you don’t have to put your groceries down to lift it.

2006 Kia Sedona EX Luxury Package
Click image to enlarge

Overall, the Sedona packs a lot of higher-end features into its envelope, with a strong engine and smooth, responsive driving experience. It offers the same horsepower (with premium fuel) and more torque than the Honda Odyssey, and has as many features as Dodge Caravan with Premium Package, yet it costs less than either of those. It may not be an exciting vehicle, but it’s a comfortable workhorse, and that’s really what minivans are all about.


Pricing: 2006 Kia Sedona EX Luxury Package


Specifications

  • Click here for complete specifications


Crash test results


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