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Curious about Kia

Overview

Published: 06/26/2012

by William Roebuck

Four leather captain’s chairs, seven-passenger seating, sunroof, front and rear air conditioning controls, power rear vent windows,

a competent stereo with CD player, power locks with remote keyless entry, power heated mirrors, and rain-sensor

wipers. It was all there, and was I surprised. When I picked up a 2002 Sedona EX Luxury minivan for a test drive, I have to

admit I hadn’t been expecting much. I already was aware of the price and was anticipating something clunky and spartan.

I was very, very wrong. After spending about two weeks with the Sedona and putting over 5,000 km on the odometer,

I can give it a hearty recommendation. It handles very well, is powerful and fast, is smooth riding and quiet,

feels well built, has plenty of room inside, and it certainly performed better than expected.

 

The Sedona is powered by a 3.6-litre V6 engine that produces 195 hp. It’s mated to a smooth-shifting, five-speed automatic

transmission. The combination produced very responsive acceleration. The brakes – discs in the front, drums in the rear – felt

firm and strong. In the features-per-dollar category, the Sedona really kicks. The price for a base LX is $24,595, a well

equipped EX is $27,595 and the top-line EX with the luxury package (leather seating and a sunroof) is $29,595.

There are plenty of features on the base model to almost make it a satisfactory choice – but you need to order the EX

model to get ABS brakes. The EX also gives you two-tone paint, alloy wheels, fog lamps, nice wood-grain trim, leather

highlights, a cassette player in addition to a CD player, roof rack, front power captain’s chairs, a front-row folding table, cruise

control, power rear quarter windows and remote keyless entry.

Steering feel is precise – not too heavy and not too light. The handling, though not completely car-like (like a Dodge

Caravan), is certainly not trucky (like a Ford Windstar). Even in blustery weather, the Sedona was not sensitive to crosswinds.

The body structure felt firm and solid. There was little wind noise. The Sedona has a high-up driving position

for a clear view of the road. Even so, it was easy to slide smoothly into the driver’s seat. I drove the Sedona on vacation

to Prince Edward Island and around Quebec’s Gaspé region, so had many hours of seat time. Even so, none of my

passengers complained of stiffness or a sore back. All the seats are very comfortable and supportive.

Access to the middle- and third-row seating is through a pair of sliding side doors. Their mounting tracks are concealed

along the bottom edge of the side windows, so there’s no ugly slash alongside the body. I found that these doors

sometimes offered resistance to easy opening and closing.

The Sedona is quite roomy inside. Headroom and legroom are plentiful in all rows. There are several storage compartments

throughout the cabin. I especially liked the double glove boxes – one above the other. Dual storage pockets are located

in both passenger doors. There’s also a covered storage compartment on top of the dash and a small slide-out drawer

under the passenger seat. A simple fold-down tray between the front seats proved to be convenient. A slideout

extension is built into it as well. There are eight cupholders in the LX, 10 in the EX.

Although the third-row bench seat doesn’t fold flat or into the floor like on some competitive minivans, it does split,

and both halves are removable separately, giving storage and passenger-carrying flexibility. Grocery bag holders are built in.

The cargo space behind the third-row seats is only 617 litres (21.8 cu ft), a bit tight. Since we had five passengers, we

removed one rear seat to increase the luggage capacity. As a result, everyone had their own individual seat and we had lots

of room for luggage. There were no complaints from the second- or third-row passengers. Getting out of the back seat wasn’t a

 problem. All six headrests are adjustable. And all three rows of passengers get reading lights. For the power hungry, the

 Sedona provides 12-volt power outlets in the front, middle and rear. The second- and third-row seats, which

slide fore and aft like the front-row seats, can be removed individually when you need more cargo space. With the secondand

third-row seats removed, cargo volume rises to 3,610 litres (127.5 cu ft). Towing capacity is 1,587 kg (3,500 lb).

The dash is laid out properly, with all controls and instruments well located.

Control knobs are large enough for easy adjustment. Second-row passengers get their own fan control for the ceiling vents,

even on the base model. An overhead driver’s display shows useful trip and fuel data.

The headlights provide very good illumination of the road. Here’s a neat feature – if you put it in drive with the parking

brake on, an alarm sounds. The only truly annoying characteristic of our test Sedona was the rear hatch.

When you pull it open, it suddenly and powerfully swings up. If you don’t pay attention, it could easily clobber you in the

head. (This might have been a quirk of our particular tester, however.) The Sedona’s weight (2,136 kg or 4,709

lb), while making it feel sturdy, works against fuel economy. I averaged 13 l/100 km on my lengthy trip – a blend of highways,

hilly country roads and small-town touring. That’s likely the worst you’d get  prudent driving and a light load would

improve the number. Kia advertises mileage figures of 15.5 l/100 km city and 10.8 on the highway (18-26 mpg), using

regular grade fuel. The exterior style is not unlike other minivans – I thought it looked most like a Chevrolet Venture. It’s about

 the same size as a Toyota Sienna – in between the shortbox and extended-length versions of other makes. In EX trim, I think

it has quite a nice appearance – for a minivan. While I can’t vouch for the Sedona’s long-term reliability or customer

satisfaction ratings compared to its competitors, Kia has eased such concerns by sticking a five-year, 100,000 km

comprehensive warranty on all its vehicles. A five-year roadside assistance package also is included. If you want a well

-equipped, solidly built, nice-driving vehicle that has comfortable seating for six or seven, and flexible cargo-carrying capacity,

the Sedona is certainly worthy of a test drive.

 

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