Minivans may not be the automotive rising star that crossovers are these days, but while recovering from a pre-holiday ankle break and subsequent surgery, I couldn’t help but appreciate why minivans are so darned effective at their task. Since walking any real distance without crutches was impossible, being able to throw them into the back without having to mess with messy hinged doors is a real convenience. And the wide-opening front doors and just-right seating height means less stress on the injured joint.
My realization came during a week with the 2015 Kia Sedona, the company’s third crack at a North American people-mover. But, like its other preconception-busting offerings, the Cadenza and K900 luxury sedans, Kia has decided to abandon the price-leader position with its latest Sedona. While Dodge will happily sell you a Grand Caravan for $19,895, Kia’s entry-level L trim starts around $28,000. Between L and the loaded SXL+ are five different levels of equipment, convenience and safety gear that bring the as-tested price to $47,960, including $1,665 delivery charges.
That’s a head-shaking figure for any vehicle, let alone a Kia minivan, but it puts forward a very solid case in its favour. Nothing radical on the outside: there’s a big bold grille flanked by full xenon headlights and LED driving lights, chrome 19-inch wheels with 235/55-sized Continental tires at all four corners and the optional metallic blue paint. Inside, though, is a whole other story.
The front seats are eight-way adjustable, wrapped in black and tan leather with neat orange detail stitching, and also happen to be heated and ventilated. They are some of the most comfortable around, at any price. The second-row captain’s chairs can be fully reclined and, like top-end Sienna models, also have extendable footrests too. Access to the third row can be either by sliding the middle chairs outwards towards the sliding doors to gain a precious few extra centimetres of space to walk between, or by sliding and tilting them forward against the front row.
The system isn’t perfect, though. The four levers needed to adjust those swanky seats are challenging for me to use, let alone my five-year-old daughter. And while the third row can stow flat into floor, the system isn’t the simplest around. Young kids in the very-very back might get bored too because the rear quarter-windows are really small and quite high thanks to the dramatically stepped beltline.