What's New for 2008
The 2008 Kia Sedona sees no significant changes.
Like Mark Wahlberg, Kia has honed its craft and has quickly grown from being a source of sharp-tongued jokes to something that gets serious praise from critics. Less than 10 years ago, Kia had about as much presence in the automotive marketplace as Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch would've had sharing a stage with Prince. Honda and Toyota executives weren't exactly losing any sleep over Kia back then. But about five years ago, Kia begun to add feature-laden, competitively priced vehicles like the Sedona and Sorento to its lineup, and it's been gold-album hits ever since.
Today Kia stands wheel to wheel with the biggies, and the 2008 Sedona is a great example why. Though the first-generation Sedona was a good choice for those on a tight budget who needed a minivan loaded with features for a bargain price, it lost points for its lackluster acceleration, sloppy handling, so-so fuel economy and hefty curb weight. But this second-gen Sedona (which bowed two years ago) is the benefactor of an extreme makeover that makes the old and new Sedonas as different as night and day.
With a longer wheelbase, more powerful engine, new suspension and lighter curb weight, this Sedona is much more agile, while also providing more passenger room and greater fuel efficiency. There's also a short-wheelbase Sedona that came out last year. More than a foot shorter in overall length and even more affordable than the standard Sedona, this new addition is ideal for those who don't need the space of a small apartment on wheels. There are a few caveats for the shortie version -- instead of the 60/40 split, fold-flat third-row seat is one that's split 50/50 and must be removed from the vehicle if more cargo space is needed. To its credit, though, the SWB Sedona still comes standard with important safety features like stability control and side curtain airbags.
Along with its Hyundai Entourage twin, the 2008 Kia Sedona is an impressively well-rounded minivan, particularly the long-wheelbase model. It doesn't quite have the polish or refined road manners as our favorite minivan -- the Honda Odyssey-- nor can it match the Dodge Grand Caravan or Toyota Sienna in terms of available family-friendly features. But factor in its significant price and warranty advantages, and the Sedona makes a strong case for itself in the minivan segment.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Kia Sedona minivan is available in two sizes -- a short-wheelbase model (SWB) and a long-wheelbase model (LWB). Both minivans seat seven, though only the bigger van has a fold-flat third-row seat. The Sedona SWB model comes in a base trim level only, while the Sedona LWB comes in LX and EX trim levels.
The base Sedona comes with 16-inch steel wheels, dual manual-sliding rear doors, privacy glass, second-row captain's chairs, a 50/50-split removable third-row bench, triple-zone air-conditioning, keyless entry, cruise control, full power accessories and an eight-speaker CD stereo. The larger Sedona LX is similar but swaps in a 60/40-split fold-flat third-row seat. The Sedona EX adds 17-inch alloy wheels, a roof rack with crossbars, foglights, power front seats, an upgraded MP3-capable CD player, power rear-quarter windows, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.
Options for the LX include dual power-sliding doors (also offered on the base trim) and a rear DVD entertainment system. The EX also allows one to opt for a sunroof, a power liftgate, leather upholstery, heated seats, adjustable pedals, automatic climate control and a premium Infinity audio system with 13 speakers.
Powertrains and Performance
All Kia Sedonas come with a 3.8-liter V6 engine that produces a healthy 250 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent through a five-speed automatic transmission to the front wheels. For such a big vehicle, acceleration is fairly brisk at 9.3 seconds for the 0-60-mph dash. Fuel economy for the 2008 Sedona stands at 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway.
Antilock disc brakes with brake assist, front seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, front active headrests, traction control and stability control are all standard on the 2008 Kia Sedona. The EX trim offers the options of rear park assist and adjustable pedals. In government crash testing, the Kia Sedona received a top five-star rating in all frontal- and side-impact tests. It also excelled in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, earning the top score of "Good" in that agency's frontal offset and side-impact tests as well as earning a 2008 Top Safety award.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Kia's interior puts the emphasis on function rather than style. Although most materials are solid in quality, a few trim pieces and some switchgear fall short of what you'll find in the top rivals. Ergonomics are a mixed bag -- the triple-zone climate controls are tricky to use while driving (particularly the manual setup), while the audio controls couldn't be simpler.
All Sedonas offer plenty of storage and seating is comfortable in all three rows, though larger families will want the extra legroom of the long-wheelbase model. The LWB Sedona also comes standard with a 60/40-split third-row seat that folds flat into the floor, which makes it a lot easier to switch between hauling kids and cargo. The second-row seats in all vans can be flipped forward or removed. Set up for cargo duty, the LWB Sedona maxes out at 142 cubic feet, just a few cubes shy of its competitors from Dodge, Honda and Toyota. The short-wheelbase van offers a total of 121 cubic feet.
The 2008 Kia Sedona is impressively quick off the line and swift during highway passing maneuvers, and it provides a smooth, quiet ride. Even at high speeds, front and rear passengers can maintain a conversation without having to yell. The Sedona is composed over most roads, but handling isn't athletic. Compared to the Odyssey, there's more body roll and the steering isn't as precise. But as utilitarian vehicles go, the Kia is still quite competent and should be on your short list if you're shopping for a minivan.