2006 Kia Sedona: What's It Like to Live With?
Read the latest updates in our long-term road test of the 2006 Kia Sedona as our editors live with this car for a year.
What do you want to know about?
- Cargo capacity
- Surprising Touches in the Kia Sedona
- Trading One Convenience for Another in the Sedona
- No One Likes an "I told ya so"
- 90 Minutes of Music
- 800-mile birthday tour
- Removable seats are convenient but not light
- Let Me Get This Straight
- Kia Sedona
- Update on the CD Changer
- Sedona succeed? Try, try a tape! Muy bien!
- The Musclecar of Minivans
- Open Range
- Kia Sedona
- Kia Sedona
- M-m-m-my Sedona
- Kia Sedona as Moving Van
- Kia Sedona — utilitarian as ever, but showing its age
- Kia Sedona
- The Electric Slide (-ing doors)
- Kia Sedona
- Good Ride on the Freeway
- Kids and DVD Players
- Kia Sedona is a Screamer
- Kids and DVD Players, Part 2
- Good Van, Poor Service
- Kia Service
- It's Crickets at Our Local Kia Dealer
- Sedona is a Satisfier
- And They Washed It...
- Sedona Service
- Creative design strikes again
- Service is still an issue
- Kia Sedona as moving van
- Christmas Sleigh
- Better Safe Than Sorry
- Steering's Too Heavy in the Parking Lot
- Kia Sedona Weekend
- Kia Sedona, My What Big Wipers You Have
- Born in Babylonia, Cruisin' the Sedona
- Kia Sedona — Making Life Easier
- Big Girls Can Fly
- Squeaky Sedona
- Nitpicking the Kia Sedona
- Girl Scout Cookie Time!
- Next up for the body shop
- iPod Commute
- Minivan vs. SUV
- It's So Easy
- Fuel Mileage
- Would-Be Bike Hauler
- Inner Beauty
- One Way to Move a Sandbox
- Kia vs. Dodge
- Side Airbag Sticker Hidden Inside
- Wine Country Trip — Only a Few Whines
- Another Use for Spy Mirror
- What It's Good For
- 1 Thing I Already Knew About the Kia Sedona
- Change in Lifestyle
- 25,000-mile service
- Can't Cope with the Slope
Read the Kia Sedona's real-time logbook entries.
When Kia introduced the Sedona back in 2002 we were hardly surprised to find out it wasn't a top-tier minivan. Kia was building good vehicles back then, but minivans like the Chrysler Town and Country, Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna had a big head start and Kia wasn't likely to make up for so much lost time in one try.
Fully redesigned this year, the 2006 Kia Sedona no longer has any excuses. It still costs less than most minivans, but even with a lower price we expected an improved design and top-notch build quality. And having just put a Honda Odyssey through its paces, it seems like a good time to see just how quickly Kia is catching up.
So far the Sedona has delivered on the basics. Priced at $23,665, the base LX provides a 60/40 third-row bench, second-row captain's chairs, front-seat side airbags, head curtain airbags for all three rows, tri-zone air-conditioning, an eight-speaker CD stereo, keyless entry, stability control and 16-inch wheels.
The third row offers what Edmunds Editor in Chief Karl Brauer called "possibly the best folding system in the segment." The system is similar to Chrysler's smart stow-and-go concept and operates without any unnecessary effort, reaching or strain.
Luggage capacity with six passengers aboard is a generous 32.3 cubic feet. Stash the seats and cargo capacity grows to a maximum of 142 cubic feet, which is slightly less than the Odyssey (147 cubic feet) and the Sienna (149), but enough to carry most anything a family may desire.
Our particular Sedona is the upgraded EX, which starts at $26,265. It adds an eight-way power driver seat, nicer cloth upholstery, an MP3-compatible stereo, automatic headlights, an auto-dimming mirror and 17-inch alloy wheels.
We went for the optional power-sliding doors and a power lift gate ($1,000), as well as the Luxury Package ($2,400), which includes leather upholstery, auto climate control, seat heaters, adjustable pedals, driver-seat memory, a sunroof, steering-wheel audio controls, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and rear parking sensors.
We also opted for the Premium Entertainment Package ($1,700) which adds a DVD player in the headliner for the pleasure of the rear passengers. It includes an 8-inch monitor, two headsets for sound, a remote control and an Infinity surround-sound system. All of the above made it very well-equipped with an as-tested price of $31,365. An equally equipped Honda Odyssey would cost many thousands more.
We kept that in mind as we put it through our usual battery of performance tests. Acceleration was average for a 3.8-liter 242-horsepower V6 backed by a five-speed automatic transmission. Zero to 60 mph takes 9.1 seconds, which is about a full second faster than the previous model. The quarter-mile takes 16.8 seconds at 84 mph.
Although the steering is way too slow for our tastes, a more advanced suspension than before makes the front-wheel-drive Sedona handle well in turns, impressing the track team through the slalom with a stable 60.7 mph run. It also exhibited a respectable 0.73 g of lateral grip on the skid pad with moderate understeer.
Braking was about average for the class, with its shortest stop coming in at 136 feet from 60 mph. So far, fuel economy has been less than average, although with EPA numbers of 16 city/22 highway we weren't too surprised. Hopefully our cumulative average of 17.0 will go up as the miles go on.
Most of the Sedona's problems stem from its weight. At 4,800 pounds, the '05 Sedona was the tubbiest minivan on the market. For 2006, Kia knocked 400 pounds off with various new metals here and lighter parts there. But in our model — loaded with everything but a service elevator — weight crept back up to 4,700 pounds.
Whether it will be an issue when it comes to doing the things we expect from a good minivan is another story. There's no doubt Kia learned some valuable lessons the first time around, not only from its own van but from the competition. In the next 12 months we'll find out just how much of that experience is baked into the Sedona, and whether or not its cheaper price is worth the savings.
Current Odometer: 2,213
Best Fuel Economy: 20.1 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 15.8 mpg
Average Fuel Economy (over the life of the vehicle): 17.0 mpg
Body Repair Costs: None
Maintenance Costs: None
Read the Kia Sedona's real-time logbook entries.
As you can see in the above photo, when the seats are folded away in the Sedona, there is plenty of storage space. That large box contained an exhaust system for a Mustang we are modifying. It was over 6 feet long and the Sedona swallowed it up easily.
The seven-seater Sedona features a 60/40 third-row bench that drops flat into the floor and second-row captain's chairs that are removable.
If you fold the second row seats and leave them in, like we did while lugging around this big box, they flop around while you are driving. Very distracting.
But with a maximum cargo capacity of 142 cubic feet, the Sedona can haul around a lot of stuff. The Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna offer a few more cubes but they are some pretty impressive rivals to be able to compete with.
Read the Introduction to our Kia Sedona for more details.
Surprising Touches in the Kia Sedona
As a working mother of two small kids, it takes more than nice ride quality, horsepower, and fuel economy to sell me. First, of course, is safety. When the Kia Sedona's excellent crash test scores emerged, I started taking it a bit more seriously. Just about every safety feature you could want come standard. It now markets itself as "the safest minivan ever built."
Now that I've spend a couple of days driving the Sedona around, I am more impressed than I thought I'd be. While it may not go toe-to-toe with the Honda Odyssey or Toyota Siena, I found it surprisingly enjoyable. The big test came when I drove it on my usual Sunday drive over the Sepulveda Pass — a long, steep freeway that weeds out the wimpy cars, forcing them into the slow lanes. The Sedona handled it just fine and didn't seem to grumble. I also found it handled well; it felt on the lighter, more agile side --- not heavy or bulky.
Perhaps just as important , though, were the thoughtful interior touches. Granted, the dash isn't particularly exciting or plush , but there are some great touches and everything is laid out well:
- Door-mounted power seat controls (laid out to resemble a seat, a la Mercedes), making seat adjustments a no-brainer.
- A conversation mirror, originally seen in the Ford Freestar, to glimpse the kiddies without turning your head. The sunglass holder, which would normally be positioned where the conversation mirror is, is moved to the left of the driver's head
- Two glove compartments
- Door pocket with cut-out for large water bottle
- A deep, in-dash space right above the power outlet (think cell phone).
- A well near the floor that can hold CDs but is big enough to hold trash. Finally! A place to put trash!
- A really deep rear well that holds groceries or other cargo securely in place, while allowing for fold-flat, split third-row seats.
- Power rear windows and quarter glass.
- Finally, built into the wall to the left of the passenger's legs is a hook — a simple hook! — for holding a purse. (See the lower right corner of the picture above.) Any woman can tell you what a hassle it when your purse flies off the passenger seat onto the floor, or how cumbersome it is if you have to seat it next to you on the tray table. Granted, you have to have a purse with pretty short, thin straps to make use of the hook, otherwise the hook is only good for carrying home take-out food. But you have to give them credit for putting it in at all.
Our EX luxury package added, among other things like leather and Infiniti stereo, a 2-position memory for driver's seat, outside mirrors, and power adjustible pedals; trizone climate control; power lift gate and back-up warning system. I appreciate memory features because there is often a second person who drives a family minivan, and no one likes resetting the controls all the time. (Note to Kia and other manufacturers: If you really want to make us think you care about the safety of our children, make the back-up warning system part of standard, not optional, safety equipment.)
The only truly annoying thing about the Sedona was the inability to scan the radio presets from the steering wheel. The wheel has plenty of other electronics on it: Volume, mute, cruise control. But I'm a channel surfer: Don't make me have to lift my hand to the radio in order to change the station.... It's archaic!
Trading One Convenience for Another in the Sedona
Last night I approached our long-term Kia Sedona EX with about 10 plastic bags of fruits and vegetables from a trip to the farmers' market. I yanked on the passenger-side sliding door handle, expecting it to power open just as our long-term Odyssey's would have. It did not.
I could only slide it open manually. I tried the driver-side sliding door. Same thing.
With the Sedona, as with the current-generation Chrysler minivans, the power-sliding feature can only be activated with the keyless remote or the buttons inside the van. Why is this a bad design? Because it puts all the burden on the person holding the remote. The other parent, presumably holding a baby, has to wait until the door opens or else muscle it open manually (defeating the point of having power doors). And kids can't get in or out of the back as easily.
In spite of this flaw, my early impressions of the van are good. I like the driving position and I like the Sedona's easygoing demeanor when puttering around town. Although I won't be in the market for a minivan anytime soon given that I'm single with no kids, there's one minivan feature I'd love to have in a sedan or hatchback: a folding center tray. I like that you can set anything on this tray and feel confident it will stay there. Usually, I just put parking cards, cell phones and directions here, but last night I set a carton of milk here because I didn't want it rolling around on the floor.
No One Likes an "I told ya so"
But we told you so. Erin's earlier comments about the Sedona's power sliding side doors prompted us to visit a local Kia dealer - Kia of Long Beach. And sure enough the doors were not working properly - her logical asumption that the doors should power all the way open after just pulling the handle was right on.
Our dealer said it was a fuse. The problem is fixed and now the Kia Sedona works the way we all think it should. One reader called our observations "pathetic" but now that the doors are fixed I guess it's not so pathetic after all - Thanks Erin.
90 Minutes of Music
After visiting our local Kia dealer for the Sedona's power sliding doors, we also discovered that the CD changer wasn't working properly - it just wouldn't play CDs. Our service advisor said the entire head unit needed to be replaced because they couldn't do those kinds of repairs on-site (most likely a software issue). The part is on order.
In the mean time, I get to listen to a lot of tapes. Nice!
hats off to Kia for including a tape player in the upgraded stereo. Problem is, I haven't owned a cassette player since 1997. As a result every tape I find (Oh I kept 'em alright) is like a K-tel "best of the 90s" compilation. There's something odd about playing the soundtrack of my carefree single days while piloting a minivan. And what ever happened to those great 90s era bands like Toad the Wet Sprocket, Gin Blossoms or Semisonic? Ahhh, the 90s.... I can't wait 'till I bust out the 80s stuff.
800-mile birthday tour
My daughter doesn't have a birthday, she has a birth-season. And although she doesn't officially turn six until August 15, the season is already underway.
This weekend we drove the long-term Kia Sedona 400 miles up north to Sacramento to eat cake with Grandma Karla on Saturday evening, and Grandma Adeline on Sunday. During the 800-mile round trip Emma watched the beginning of Disney's High School Musical six times, yet never saw the whole movie because every time we stopped and turned off the engine, the DVD returned to the main start-up menu. Most in-car systems are smart enough to pick up where they left off, but if the Sedona has resume capability, I couldn't make it happen.
Needless to say, the opening number lost its charm after the third or fourth consecutive viewing.
Late Sunday afternoon we loaded up Emma's bounty, including the new Bitty Baby Twins and their requisite double stroller, for the six-hour drive back to Long Beach. While cruising down the 5 Freeway, we noticed an occasional high pitch noise from the minivan's left front at higher speeds. My husband and I argued tire noise versus wind noise and the trip ended with no clear winner. I mentioned the noise to Director of Vehicle Testing Dan Edmunds this morning, and he suspects that the noise was air around the driver's side door seal. Dan promised to take the Sedona for a spin soon to make an official diagnosis.
Removable seats are convenient but not light
Here's a little surprise I didn't expect last weekend when removing the Sedona's second-row seats.
I had to use a hand truck to move the seats between the Sedona and my garage because of their weight, which was massive enough to make me retrieve the bathroom scale to get to the bottom of the issue. Sixty one point eight pounds each to be exact — not exactly feathery. Yes, the Sedona's seats are conveniently removable, but at that weight you probably shouldn't ever plan to have your wife do this job.
Otherwise, the Sedona performed brilliantly, swallowing the loveseat/sleeper without issue.
Let Me Get This Straight
My family and I have been "interviewing" many of the cars in the Edmunds long-term fleet to see which one we'll use for our annual 2,000 mile there-and-back-again Oregon trek. We decided to give the Sedona a try, as this newbie hasn't yet been put through the real-world summer vacation test wringer.
But first, it needs a trip to the dealer for an oil change and a wheel alignment. The former is routine, while the latter is made necessary by the slightly off-center position of the steering wheel when driving straight ahead. Someone may have rubbed a curb or hit a particularly nasty pothole, as the wheel was centered when we first took delivery. After a quick alignment check and toe-in reset, it should be as good as new.
I couldn't get my arm out of the sun this morning. The Sedona's side windows are cut so low that no matter where I put my arm — on the wheel where it should be, or on the armrest in search of shade — I couldn't escape the rays.
I feel very exposed in the Sedona. Looking at other vehicles around me, most of their windows are cut higher.
On another note, our Sedona is getting a little grungy at only 6700 miles. It gets a lot of family use and the light colored interior really shows the grime. We'll be getting it detailed soon, so consider this your "before" picture. We'll post "after" shots when it's been restored to its fair self.
Update on the CD Changer
You might remember that the Sedona's in-dash CD changer stopped playing CDs in mid-July. Inserting any type of CD results in this error message, and if you keep trying to load it, the player eventually spits the CD out. Unfortunately, Kia of Long Beach initially ordered the wrong stereo head unit (the non-Infinity variety) — which is why Dan couldn't take the van on his Oregon road trip. Since then, the dealer has reordered the correct head unit and we hope to have it installed soon.
In completely unrelated news, I've taken a shine to the Sedona's keyless remote. It's said that the best way to pick out lemons, limes or watermelons is to choose specimens that are heavy for their size, and that describes this minivan's remote. It feels substantial in your hand like a VW or Audi remote, and I have to admit that it has a psychological effect on me: Whenever I pick up the fob, for a split second, I start to believe I'm walking up to a luxury vehicle. Then, it turns out a pretty good minivan is waiting for me instead.
Sedona succeed? Try, try a tape! Muy bien!
After being nonplussed at the Sedona's "PC LOAD LETTER"-esque nonsense with the CD player (I'm learning freakin' Spanish here! Vamonos!), I was, eh, plussed by the existence of a tape player.
No new cars have tape players anymore. As such, I had to buy a whole other Spanish program as my dad's "Living Language: Spanish" course on two cassettes was useless on the commute — hence my recent adherence to the "Berlitz Rush Hour Spanish" complete with ridiculous songs about the asking for scrambled eggs with organ in F major.
But in the Sedona I could finally crack open the tapes and listen with ease. Though I still don't know what anything means. Thankfully, beige is beige both north and south of the Rio Grande.
The Musclecar of Minivans
Our Kia Sedona accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 9.1 seconds and completes the standing start quarter mile 16.8 seconds at 84 mph. In the van's intro we mistakenly judged that performance as average for a van powered by a 3.8-liter 242-horsepower V6 backed by a five-speed automatic transmission. It's not average. We just took the Sedona, a Honda Odyssey, a Toyota Sienna, a Nissan Quest and a Chrysler Town and Country to the test track as part of an upcoming comparison test and the Kia was the quickest.
I drove the Kia home last night and was really surprised by its oomph off the line. Leadfoot moms can pin the kids juice box to the back window through three gears. Sadly that response doesn't continue once the van is up to speed. Even in slow city traffic the engine's power is muted by the transmission's unwillingness to downshift and its premature engagement of top gear. To correct the 5-speed's poor tuning, I make judicious use of the shifters manual gate, but wish I didn't have to.
For more than 50 years the Bob's Big Boy in Burbank, California has catered to the gearheads of the L.A's San Fernando Valley. Since it was built in 1949, it has been a weekly gathering spot for motorheads and their rides. And now you can add our long term Kia Sedona to the list of legendary hardware that has graced the Bob's parking lot.
However, it was on the way home from the family's crazy night of cruising, tummys filled with Super Big Boy Combos, that we noticed a flaw in the Kia's trip computer. We love the fact that it has a range readout, which lets you know how many miles worth of gas is left in the van's tank, but with 30 miles left of range the readout stops counting down and switches to four hash marks.
Lame. Truely useful range readouts, like the ones in our long term Jeep Commander and long term BMW 330i, will count down all the way to zero.
I just noticed a mysterious little button on the right side of the center console in the Kia Sedona. At first I was afraid to push it. What if it was an ejector seat button? Tee hee...
But I chanced it and voila: it's a purse hook and I'm loving it. See how it holds my little bag perfectly.
If fact, the button says it will take up to 7 lbs so it could handle larger bags too. Very convenient for keeping your take-out Chinese food from spilling over. Or you could use it to keep a little plastic bag to hold trash on long journeys.
Nice touch, Kia.
Our CD player in the Sedona is busted, so on our long drive to Monterey last week for our team outing, we used the DVD player to listen to DVD-As and watch movies. The surround-sound quality of the DVD-A discs is amazing. Unfortunately, we only had one DVD-A disc with us. I like the Eagles but Hotel California gets a little tiring after a while.
For movies, I expected the DVD player to be regionless, like the player in my laptop. But when I tried to put in a PAL format movie, it would not play. The French have their own format (I can't remember what it is called) and I tried one of those too, but no go. I guess I'll have to watch my Alain Delon movies at home.
I was just as happy to watch Ronin so I could see my favorite actor, Sean Bean (far left), get ambushed by Robert DeNiro and a cup of coffee. Love him.
Unless you're 8 1/2 years old, your passion for minivans is probably more utilitarian than lusty. I'm 48 and single, which lands me pretty firmly in the groups that regards minvans as a practicality, a conveyance, with little emotional attachment to speak of. So I found it pretty shocking after a night's commute that I found myself beginning to bond with our long-term ruby-red box, the 2006 Kia Sedona EX.
Not that the Kia's driving dynamics are all that dynamic (let's face it: If you buy a minivan with the dream of autocrossing it on weekends, then you really need to consider upping your meds), but I did find things that surprised me.
First and finest, 244 horsepower is a strong invitation to pass slower pokes on your way to and from work, and the Sedona's 3.8-liter V6 doesn't hesitate to deliver the goods. And the 5-speed automatic is on the same page. In day-to-day application, the brake pedal feel is surprisingly firm, and the response is quite good.
Inside, all three rows of seating in the Sedona have something to offer: room. I also admire the way the third-row seats sink into the floor when not in use, bringing a very useable flat floor for cargo into play.
The Kia Sedona is an easy minivan to drive, that's one of the highest compliments you can pay to a veghicle that divides its fan base into two camps: utilitarians and pre-adolescents.
Kia Sedona as Moving Van
Faced with a big move next weekend, I pondered which of our long-term vehicles would best serve as a transport to move some boxes from my old apartment to my new one. I wouldn't try to move anything huge like a bed or a kitchen table, just boxes of linens, books, etc....many boxes. At first I considered the FJ Cruiser. When I used it camping earlier this year, I was able to pack a lot in the cargo area, especially with the rear seats down.
But when I asked Erin, an editor, what her opinion was, she spoke up for minivan Kia Sedona.
And after borrowing it for the past couple nights, I can see why she suggested it. Last night when picking up moving boxes, I didn't really have a free hand to unlatch the door but the handy-dandy keyfob automatically raised the rear liftgate for me with the press of a button. Loved that! And when stowing all the seats away, it affords a flat space to pile up the boxes, unlike the FJ which doesn't fold flat and creates mini Towers of Pisa. I also like how both sliding doors of the van open up for way easy access. Now there's just the matter of asking Kelly if I can borrow it. Heh.
Kia Sedona — utilitarian as ever, but showing its age
Let's face it: The Kia Sedona isn't the most exciting vehicle on the planet. Yet weekend after weekend I find myself choosing its combination of practical space and inoffensive driving character over many other vehicles in our fleet. It's huge inside — flop down a second-row seat and it's not a problem to load three people, three mountain bikes and tons of gear into its cavernous cargo space. Then enjoy its car-like driving to whatever remote destination you choose.
That's just what I did last Saturday and I can't think of a better vehicle for the job. Then on Sunday I pulled out both the second-row seats and loaded an entire patio set behind the front seats. It took two trips to get the table, umbrella and six chairs home, but the Sedona did the deed without hassle. It's almost laughable how much space there is in the back of a modern minivan.
But it's not all roses. Our Sedona is showing some signs of wear. The auto-close button on the rear hatch now responds only with an insulting beep when pushed while the door remains open. It can still be closed manually or with a push of the button on the key fob. There's also an infuriating squeak from the third-row seat area that I can't track down. It's most annoying over expansion joints on the freeway where it's loud enough to interrupt normal conversation in the front seats. Good thing this rig comes with an excellent warranty.
Driving the Kia Sedona with the automatic transmission in a hilly area is sometimes an adventure.
The Sedona is normally smooth and easy to drive. But when trying to lumber up a steep hill, the transmission would not downshift. I had to switch to manual mode so that I could use 2nd gear.
It was just too slow and laborious.
Running in high gears is great for maximum fuel efficiency but not appropriate for all driving situations.
The Electric Slide (-ing doors)
A couple of editors have complained that the electric hatch and sliding doors on our long-term Kia Sedona don't work unless they use the key fob buttons. A tug on the handle, inside or out, was not sufficient to get the sliders to, well, slide under power. Indeed last night when I walked out into the garage, I was greeted by the same annoyance. But there is an explanation.
A "PWR" switch is located located on the overhead console. It controls how the sliding doors and hatch work.
This position, because it is flush with the surroundings looks normal, right? You would expect everything to operate properly, meaning that the power doors and hatch would work to their full potential, happily opening and closing if any of the handles is gently tugged or the key fob buttons used. But on our Sedona, you'd be wrong. With the button in this position, the power door function is partly shut off, and only the key fob and buttons on the overhead console can be used to power open or close any doors.
Our Sedona's button must be depressed, as shown here, to engage the power doors and make them work for those who do not possess the key fob or are standing outside tugging on the handle. This is where the button on our Sedona needs to be for normal operation.
There isn't anything broken here, and no dealer visits are needed. There is nothing wrong with the doors on our Sedona. The Kia's power door and hatch system are pretty comprehensive, and the "PWR" switch is a handy way to keep the wee ones from playing around with them.
Still, I think the logic is wrong on two counts, and needs a rethink.
(1) The normal position should be flush. I think everyone agrees that having all of the power features active is the preferred normal case. Yes, pushed-in is "on" usually, but people also like things to line up and sit flush. Side windows, which are similarly driver-defeatable, many times have a button that is flush when in the normal position, and sticks UP, exposing a red line around the edges of the protruding bit, to indicate the windows are off. That sort of logic would work better here. If the doors didn't work as expected, a protruding button would be self-explanatory.
(2) This switch, a safety feature, shouldn't be anywhere a passenger can reach. If a passenger (ex: one of the kids) messes with this switch, the driver might not think to look here and might head to the dealer instead. This isn't as big an issue if something like item (1) were present.
I know what some of you are thinking. In a perfect world, everyone would read their owner's manual and commit it to memory. But coming from the automaker vehicle development side of the business as I have, I can say with confidence that a large percentage of people don't. Automakers know this and usually design accordingly. As a result, the design of features like this should be judged partially by whether or not someone has to drag out the manual, as I did, to figure it out. Intuitive control design is good design.
I think Kia, and Hyundai with it's similar Entourage, would be well-advised to revamp the design here, if for no other reason than to avoid having customers come in to have their doors fixed when nothing is wrong, and to avoid a demerit on customer satisfaction surveys. It wouldn't surprise me if something was in the pipeline already.
Perhaps it's my braking style but whenever I drive the Kia Sedona, I always hit my foot on the low-hanging plastic above the brake pedal.
Once I do it, I adjust and am more careful with my foot. But I think the driver's footwell area should be carved out more. I don't have big feet.
Good Ride on the Freeway
I was running late. I asked myself, "How the heck did THIS happen?" I had to be in San Diego's Balboa Park (BalboaPark.org) by 4pm for a wedding, and it was 1:30pm on Friday, AND I was still in Santa Monica. Suddenly, there was back to back traffic on the 405...just great.
It was Friday the 13th, dark rain clouds hung on the horizon, and red taillights sprawled out in front of me. Okay, so it was no surprise the traffic wasn't moving, but a guy can hope, right? I looked in my rearview mirror, through the cavernous Sedona, and saw traffic surrounding me. Then I thought, "Wait, I'm going to a wedding on Friday 13th? Why would someone get married on Friday 13th?" I was determined to find out, as I happen to like the number 13.
Rain drizzled down, and as science dictates, the air got warmer as steam changed to water. In fact, it was downright humid, so I cranked the A/C, and out came a moldy stink. Oh, jeez, what the heck is that? Then I remembered a trick to get rid of it, that you can sometimes run the heater at full blast for a bit, then switch to the A/C. So I did that, and it did the trick. Yes! Then the traffic started moving. Double yes!
I sunk my foot into the gas peddle and the Sedona took off. Well, it actually went through a few shifts, but once it was in 3rd and beyond, I was hauling smoothly toward my destination. Then I realized how fast I was going and backed off. The Sedona is one smooth ride on the freeway. The weight of the vehicle, combined with the solid build, strong engine, and nicely tuned suspension got the job done.
I picked up my friend in Dana Point at 2:30pm, right on time to make it to San Diego by 4pm. Only she told me the wedding was now at 6pm. Well, better early than late. So we rolled smoothly to the Blue Water Grill for swordfish tacos, then to the Hyatt for a sunset view onto the bay, and finally the wedding at Balboa Park where my question of, "Why get married on Friday 13th." was answered. Balboa Park is apparantly a very difficult venue to book, and if you have to get married there, you take what you can get.
The ceremony started, and so did the rain. But everyone took it in good fun. Soon after, the reception nearing an end, it was time to roll my friend back to Dana Point. She was so tired, she wanted to just lay down in the back, but instead of the floor, I suggested she take the back seat while I drove. But that turned into two issues.
As I headed out of the park, she couldn't fully recline the back seat, although there was so much room behind her. So she decided to make due until we couldn't figure out how to turn off the rear air vent that was blowing in her face. Okay, so we pulled over, she jumped in the passenger seat, reclined, and hit the hay.
When I got to Dana Point, she was still out. So to wake her, I hit the door lock button, which made a loud, uh, alarm-like buzz for some reason, and that did the trick. It was late, dark, and cool as I cruised alone back to Santa Monica. But doing that freeway drive in the Sedona, it was smooth all the way.
Kids and DVD Players
Guess what? Very small children don't like headphones. Luckily, our Kia Sedona EX has an Infinity sound system along with a rear seat DVD player that lets you listen through the speakers OR use headphones. Actually, I'm mistaken, our daughter loves the headphones - here she's trying to figure out which part will taste best.
So popular is the Sedona's rear seat DVD player that our son insisted on watching it while the van was parked in the driveway even though we have a perfectly good DVD player and television inside the house. But the system does have one major drawback - the DVD doesn't come back on automatically after shutting the motor off and there are no controls up front for the driver (mommy) to get the Baby Mozart party re-started quickly. You can just press play and the disc will pick up where it left off but my four year old son still hasn't mastered the remote. This is kind of a hassle for suburban errand running.
Kia Sedona is a Screamer
And I don't mean that in the good, speedy way. On the open road, in the middle of the desert, we were travelling 70-80 mph most of the time. Whenever we encountered cross-winds, which was often, the whistling scream the Kia Sedona EX emitted was immensely irritating. It was worse the faster we went, but with the speed limit at 70 mph, we couldn't go much slower than that without facing the wrath of fellow drivers.
Kids and DVD Players, Part 2
Fortunately for Brian Moody's kids (see post below), I changed the batteries in both of the wireless headsets when I had the 2006 Kia Sedona EX this weekend. The batteries looked like the originals that came with the headset 13,000+ miles ago. That seems like a decent amount of battery life to me, not knowing how often those headsets were actually used.
As I discovered over the weekend, the DVD player does not just keep kids entertained in the back seat — it works equally well on husbands, wives and sisters.
I encountered only minor annoyances with the entertainment system. First, someone had left a Hootie and the Blowfish CD in it but I can't blame Kia for that one. Second, there was no convenient place to keep the wireless headsets when they weren't in use. When I picked up the van, the headsets were sitting in the rear cupholders. When the cupholders were in use over the weekend, we jammed the headsets into the pockets on the backs of the first row seats, but it was not ideal and could possibly damage the headsets if used as the primary storage solution.
Good Van, Poor Service
Why are we still listening to cassette tapes? That's a good question. Unfortunately, the answer reads like a role playing chapter from a customer service handbook titled "What Not To Do."
Hey, don't get me wrong, I think the Married to the Mob soundtrack is excellent, same goes for the Midnight Oil tape I found in my garage but shouldn't the CD changer be fixed by now? Yes, it should - plus, I'm running out of "really good" tapes.
Here's how the trouble has played out. July - we take the van in for diagnosis. We're told we need a new stereo head unit and that one will be ordered. A week later Kia of Long Beach calls and says the part has arrived. Sadly, when we arrive we're told the wrong part was sent. "We'll call you when the right part gets here." Fine. One. two, three weeks go by and no phone call. When we call, we're told our service advisor no longer works there. "Can someone else help me?" we ask. "Sure" straight to voicemail. Call later and still straight to voicemail - this happens four more times the same day.
In frustration we ask to speak to an actual person - "Is the service manager available?" we ask. "Sure," straight to voice mail. We call back "can we talk to a real person?" "Sure, I'll have to put you on hold." 35 min later still no real person. When we do finally speak to a real person we're greeted with apolgies and concern. "I'll call you back once I check to see if the correct part ever arrived." No call. That was two weeks ago.
Last Monday we started from scratch and simply made a new service appointment. Four days out was the soonest they could see us even though the service bays were not full and our Sedona was the only car in the entire service drive at 8:30 AM on a Thursday. Today we picked up the Sedona and got the shocking news that, sure enough, our CD player is broken. "We'll order the part and call you when it arrives." Hmmmm.
To the dealership's credit, the people have always been very nice and it seems like the place is under new ownership as the parts dept is full of boxes that are half unpacked. We're willing to give our neighborhood Kia dealer one last chance. Cross your fingers for good news in the next few weeks.
It's been more than a week since we were told our Sedona's radio needed to be replaced. Still no call from Kia of Long Beach and when we call them we're stuck in a never ending cycle of "press 3 for service." We press 3. It rings and..., right back to the "press 3 for service" menu. At this point, we're not even sure anybody still works there.
It's Crickets at Our Local Kia Dealer
Kia service drive at 4:00 on a weekday.
4:00 pm on a Tuesday and our local Kia of Long Beach is shut up tighter than a drum with but two new Kias on the whole lot (they're locked up inside the showroom). Why do I get the feeling we won't be getting that busted stereo fixed any time soon. We're told there's another Kia dealer in nearby Carson.
We'll be paying them a call in the never ending quest to get our Sedona's stereo fixed - it's been quite an odyssey (I couldn't resist).
A Super long bumper to bumper warranty is nice but what good is it if your local dealer can't or won't do the work?
Sedona is a Satisfier
It is safe to say my two-year-old son was the major benefactor on my recent road trip to Las Vegas in our long-term Kia Sedona. Admittedly I haven't previously driven a minivan from any other manufacturer, however first impressions are everything — and keeping the kid happy is paramount.
I concur with Brian Moody's assessment of the DVD player that it is annoying to have to restart it once the motor is off. Additionally, had my wife not been sitting in the (she claims slightly uncomfortable) backseat to restart the DVD, we would have been pulling over every 45 minutes to replay Leapfrog.
That being said, my son had no problem adapting to the wireless headphones. The additional downside to the DVD unit, which I assume is standard in most minivans, is that the flipped down screen blocks a good portion of your visibility out the rear-view mirror — especially at night.
DVD issues aside, the Sedona drove nicely, was easy to get in and out of with all the button-controlled automatic doors, and rather spacious inside. The only other thing that stood out in my mind was getting acclimated to the seat controls being on the door rather than the side of (or under) the seat. We are so programmed to feel the side of the seat to find the settings that it never occurred to me to look at the door!
But the real shot of reality is whatever ever happened to the license plate game or punch-buggy? Soon our kids will expect nothing less than DirecTV in their car seats!
And They Washed It...
The bad news is, the Sedona's CD player still isn't fixed, the good news is we think we've finally found a dealership we can trust. They're going to order the part but this time we think they mean it.
We took the van to Car Pros Kia in Carson, California and were very pleased with the experience. We were greeted with a "Good morning, how can I help you?" from our advisor Yuri and she then promptly told us of three minor recalls which could all be fixed that day...
Plus, check out their waiting room - comfy chairs, flat panel TV and plenty of natural light. NICE!
And to top it all off, they even washed our Sedona. Here it is waiting in the service drive.
It's not reasonable that we couldn't get this van fixed 6 months ago but now that we've found one Kia dealer that actually cares to earn our business we're much less angry about it. Satisfaction with a certain brand of car is probably 75% dealership and 25% the car. Our Sedona has had but one notable problem but it seems like a much bigger deal because it's still not fixed.
For now we're cautiously optimistic. We'll let you know when the new radio arrives.
Our Long Term Kia Sedona just returned from service and the bill seemed a bit high. The 15,000 mile service included an oil and filter change, rear brake adjustment, fluid top-off, tire rotation, battery test, and replace the air cleaner. Total parts and labor including excessive California sales tax - $218.06. Granted, they did a lot of tangible work but over $200 sure does seem steep.
However, since three Los Angeles area Kia dealerships have recently closed, we're just happy to have found a place that's within a days drive.
Creative design strikes again
I have an abundance of sunglasses and a shortage of places to store them. Until this weekend I've been annoyed by our long-term Sedona's lack of places to store glasses. Seriously, this is problem. After all, the Sedona is a minivan.
And minivans are supposed to be practical, right? Well, until now, every time I clicked open the roof-mounted glasses case this is what I found.
Don't get me wrong. I'm sure this is a great feature for keeping an eye on the back-seat bambinos. But since I have more sunglasses than I do bambinos, it wasn't helping me much. Then, one astute passenger pointed out the glasses case built into the Sedona's roof above my head.
Bingo. Problem solved. I love minivans.
Service is still an issue
After nearly five months, four dealership visits, one dealership out of business and a long line of cassette tapes our Kia Sedona's CD changer is finally fixed. Car Pros Kia in Carson got the job done and the staff was very helpful. Our van was not ready at the time promised but they did give us an 05 Sedona as a loaner without charging us.
Still, with several Kia dealers in the Los Angeles area closing we can't help but wonder how a Kia customer from the midwest or deep south would have done given the same set of circumstances.
Kias are clearly worth considering alongside Hondas and Toyotas but the dealership network doesn't seem capable of handling all the new customers - is Kia's success a surprise even to Kia?
For now the CD changer is loaded with Audio Adrenaline, Kasey Chambers, 10,000 Maniacs, Gorillaz and maybe a Christmas disc or two. Plus, I've got $5 that says our Managing Editor may slip a Rosemary Clooney disc in.
Kia Sedona as moving van
"Cavernous" is an apt word to describe our Kia Sedona when its seats are stowed. The third row folds flat and disappears into the floor. The second row can be rolled into a fetal position or removed. I chose to leave in the second row as I used our Kia minivan to move my belongings to my new digs.
But be warned, they flip around a lot if you don't have stuff crammed right up against them. I made three runs in the Sedona from old home to new home, moving things I didn't want the real movers to handle.
As our long-term Sedona was finally getting a new CD player, I was forced to use a loaner Sedona the first night. It was an earlier model than ours and its second row seats were easier to remove but didn't curl up as tiny as our 2006. I'll post photos of the green rental Sedona as soon as I can figure out how to get the pictures out of my fancy new phone.
For the record, maximum cargo capacity of our 2006 Kia Sedona EX is 142 cu. ft. I used every cube of it. Thanks, Kia.
Our Sedona served as the Toepke family's Christmas sleigh this year, and over the 5 freeway to Grandmother's house we went.
Three kids, Katie (17), Kyle (12) and Emma (6) settled into the rear two seats for the 1,000-mile round trip and did so with little complaint.
Northbound was a quick six hours, but it was slow going on the way home — eight hours or what the kids call a "four movie" trip. After watching the Grinch, Polar Express and too many episodes from Saved By the Bell, The Box Set, we arrived home in Long Beach, hardly worse for wear.
The Sedona earned 19.5 mpg during the trip, which isn't great considering the EPA rating is 18/25 mpg.
Better Safe Than Sorry
This morning as I was about to back out of my carport, the Kia Sedona sounded an alarm in the cabin. I checked to make sure I didn't leave the parking brake on. Nope. I then looked behind me to make sure my roommate had already cleared the parking space behind me... Check. But the steady high-pitched tone continued as if there was something still behind the Sedona. So I got out to take a look. Maybe someone unseen was sitting on the bumper or something. But sure enough when I checked there was nothing in its path...except possibly that little bit of shrubbery jutting out from the Italian cypress near the column.
I always thought rear sensors only detected what was immediately in front of them. Had no idea they could detect just anything in the vicinity of the rear bumper. Pretty handy considering the rear visibility of this thing isn't so great.
Steering's Too Heavy in the Parking Lot
I took our Kia Sedona on a few errands last night and it's a pleasant vehicle to drive around town — good power off the line, fairly agile handling. But the steering is just too heavy when you're trying to maneuver it into a parking space. This is an area in which more expensive vans, like the top-rated Honda Odyssey, still feel more refined than the Kia. The Odyssey's power assist has more subtlety to it: Its steering is truly light in the parking lot, and it firms up progressively as your speed increases.
Unrelated to this complaint, the Sedona's interior still looks great after almost 18,000 miles and who knows how many kids passing through.
However, there are a couple prominent rattles coming from the cargo bay that detract from that feeling of almost-newness. I thought maybe the third-row seat wasn't fully locked into its upright position, but everything was secure — the van just rattles.
Kia Sedona Weekend
I didn't get to drive the Sedona anywhere exotic or far away this past weekend, but the wife and kids and I did spend a fair bit of time in it. The following is a brief rundown of our observations.
Like the 2006 Azera I wrote about last week, our 2006 Kia Sedona has no CD track or preset scan button on the steering wheel. I presume the '06 Hyundai Entourage has the same issue, as they are the same car. No really. I wonder if the 2007 Sedona/Entourage steering control is upgraded as it was in our 2007 Azera?
Unlike the Azera, two of the power points (but not the lighter) are hot all of the time. As a result, I was able to charge my cell phone while this one was shut down in my driveway. And the car battery didn't go dead or perceptibly weaken in the process.
My wife Tracy, as usual, loves the seat heaters. But I for one do not like the roller design. I'd prefer a button that resets to off when the car is shut down. Can you tell I've been victimized by practical jokers before?
Tracy, who is of much smaller stature than I, really like the Sedona's seats compared to the 2004 Odyssey she drives regularly. I like them better too because our Honda's seats seem to have such exaggerated lumbar that the upper half of my body doesn't touch anything.
Tracy liked the low windshield and hoodline, saying it gave her a better parking lot view.
She was quite critical of the slurred shifting of the transmission, which at times gives a passable impersonation of a CVT. It's my biggest beef with this van too, as trying to accelerate through gaps or execute passing maneuvers, even moderately, produces a 2 or 3 mississippi delay. Its sort of like the shutter delay found on early digital cameras, which were kinda OK when taking a still-life pictures (cruising) but annoying for action shots (acceleration.) Other than that, the engine is making decent power and would probably produce acceleration comparable to our stout 2004 Odyssey if only the shifts were as decisive.
Finally, my Tahoe Christmas trip blogs invited a bit of controversy about the relative cargo carrying merits of a minivan compared to such a full-sized SUV. In the future, I'd like to make a more detailed comparison. But for now, here are a few key dimensions from this Sedona, as measured by me and my trusty tape measure. Assume an error of up to 1/2 inch:
Liftover height, to bumper: 21.5 inches
Liftover height, to hatch opening: 24 inches
Storage depth, rear door to second seat: 54 inches min, 60 max (2nd seats slid forward, but not folded)
Maximum cargo length, hatch closed: 120 inches (on the floor, straight up the middle between the first and second rows)
Inside height at hatch opening: 40 inches
Inside width at hatch opening: 48 inches
Kia Sedona, My What Big Wipers You Have
Since we editors get to cycle through different cars every day, there's a brief period of disorientation in the first moments when we get in a new car and have to adjust to its family sedan spaciousness or sports car handling or big-truck proportions. Unfamiliar characteristics are to be expected but nothing made me actually laugh before until I switched on the windshield wipers for the Kia Sedona.
On my way in today, I encountered a bit of sprinkling and waited until the windshield was covered with raindrops before I flicked the wipers. Suddenly these long, skinny arms of wipers came up and cleared the drops away.
I didn't realize how huge the windshield was until these wipers popped out. I don't know, it was just funny...they looked so long and awkward...OK, you had to be there.
They were amusing, that is, until I noticed a metallic-grating squeak with each wipe. Finally, it got so annoying that I had to turn it off, only flicking it on when the windshield was thoroughly drenched. I don't know what could account for that noise. Maybe it's just a matter of it being readjusted. Of course, by the time I parked the minivan in the garage, I completely forgot to check it out.
Born in Babylonia, Cruisin' the Sedona
My apologies to Steve Martin. After much avoidance, I finally found myself in our long-term Kia Sedona minivan, and to be honest, it ain't half bad. Maybe I'm a little more used to driving big cars now (Edmunds fleet's Benz R500 and Chevy Silverado pickup) but I found the Sedona to be pretty smooth. Much better visibility than either, didn't feel half as long or ungainly as the R500, and generally I enjoyed it.
In fact, I VASTLY prefer it to the needlessly complicated and pugfugly R500.
My first peace-making with minivans came via a rented Dodge Caravan in college, a long, four-man trip from Connecticut to Florida for a week. We drove it, we lived in it, and unfortunately one guy crashed it and it limped back to the agency. But I found I enjoyed it. It did what it was supposed to do. Easy to drive, park, soaks up highway miles. Many years later and a similar Caravan, I drove with a friend way down the Baja peninsula, deep into Mexico. Again, great for long drives and comfort.
The point is, the Sedona's a fine ride, if you really need a big van with lots of space and room for a bunch of passengers. Easy to use, clear controls, nice heat, comfy seats, and mirrors that angle down when you back up. Great visiliblity, and I'm all about that. When I opened the door in a tight parking space, I didn't wack the car next to me (unlike the R500). Other than an uncomfortable roar when you first start it up (which quickly settles to a pleasant quiet), it's very pleasant. Does it replace the Aston Martin DB9 in my dreams? Not by a long shot. But it's not bad. And the girlfriend prefers it to the Silverado.
Kia Sedona — Making Life Easier
I've said it before, I'll say it again. I have no beef with the Sedona. I've driven it home the last few days and I think it rocks. I am a purebred sports car/sport sedan owner/lover/driver, down to my soul, but for what it is, the Sedona is a fantastic minivan.
That's part of our job as editors. Not to judge a car based on how it's not a Porsche, but to be in the mindset of someone who actually needs a minivan, or a pickup, or an SUV. What do they want, what do they need?
ANY car, in my view, needs to be easy to use, with the basic controls of starting/stopping, lights, temp, radio, etc. basic, well-designed and totally intuitive and within reach, without your having to consult a manual. Check. Shining stars, plus plenty of storage space and cupholders. And nothing's too complicated. You put a bag on the passenger seat, the passenger airbag's disabled. You stop the car but take your belt off before taking the key out of the ignition, it beeps a couple times, and then stops. Simple. No more than necessary.
But my main concern with all vehicles is visibility, and as I've written before, even some sedans, I feel, spectacularly fail in this regard. I drove the Hyundai Azera this weekend. Loved it, but when I parallel-parked with a low-nose Accord behind me, it was nearly impossible to see the front of the car out of the high rear window. I couldn't tell if I was 5 feet from the Accord or 1 foot. That said, the Sedona is fantastic. Lots of big windows, great visibility all around, easy to move, easy to park.
And I really dig these mirrors. Nice and huge, as they should be with a 16-foot minivan.
When you put it in reverse, they angle down. Like so. Tighter on both sides so you can see what's close to you, and make sure you don't run over the family dog.
This is why I like it, in a nutshell. Nothing you don't need, no extra beeps and bells and complications, and a few extra touches to, dare I say, make your life EASIER. Oh, and I'm loving the acceleration for freeway entrances and lane-changing. Bravo Kia.
Big Girls Can Fly
At over 4,300 pounds, the Kia Sedona is no lightweight. You'd never know it when you're behind the wheel, though; she's quick out the gate, with acceleration that's nothing short of eager.
Our 2006 EX is powered by a 242-horsepower V6 with 251 pound-feet of torque, and the engine serves her well.
In a weekend's worth of travels, the Kia proved herself up for anything. Steep on-ramps that proved taxing for other vehicles were gleefully taken in stride by the Kia. There were no tense moments when making high-speed passing maneuvers on the freeway. The Sedona proved time and again that she could manage these with breezy confidence.
Minivans aren't supposed to make you smile, but this weekend, the Sedona proved herself worthy of a grin or two.
Huge news on the Sedona this week.
Had the privilege of spending the weekend in it. With its center row seats removed it did its usual van duty by hauling mountain bikes (two of them, wheels attached). And squeaking.
Maybe it's just more noticable with the second-row seats removed, but the thing has a death creak that sounds like a rat in a bear trap. Not sure what it is or where it's coming from, but it's obnoxious.
Like I said, huge news.
Nitpicking the Kia Sedona
Last night as my friend and I were getting into the very dark cabin of the Kia Sedona, I fumbled around trying to find the light switch to turn on the interior lights when the doors are open. I instinctively reached for the buttons over the center console near the lights since experience has taught me that that's where the door light buttons are usually located. Nope, not in the Kia. Instead I ended up opening the rear cargo door... Wanting to close it but not being able to see the buttons clearly in the dark, I pressed more buttons that looked like they showed a closing door to no avail. My friend, annoyed, finally jumped out of the car to close the gate but as soon as she started to slam it down, I found and pressed the right button and the cargo door halted abruptly in midswing. The familiar warning beep of the moving door sounded and the door slowly shut itself but not before startling my friend who accused it of trying to eat her purse.
In any case, the next morning I noticed that the door light button is actually located to the lower left of the steering wheel for some reason.
Girl Scout Cookie Time!
It's Girl Scout cookie season in Southern California, and Brownie Troop 421 has been busy taking orders since late January. Cookies are the troop's annual cash cow, and these ten first and second graders have been working their Brownie beanie charms on family members, neighbors, and of course their parents' co-workers in an effort to make their troop goal of 910 boxes.
As the troop's Cookie Mom, it was my responsibilty to pick up the the entire order from the warehouse, all 1,176 boxes, which equals 98 cases or three towering pallets. The veteran moms informed me that 100 cases would fit in an open-bed pickup truck, but since our Silverado was at the body shop and the weatherman was forecasting the threat of rain, I opted for the Kia Sedona instead.
We folded the Sedona's rear bench flat and attempted to remove the second-row chairs before heading to the warehouse. One seat came out easily, but the other chair wouldn't release. After nearly ten minutes of trying, we were getting anxious about making our 11:40 a.m. pick up time, so we left the seat in the minivan. I had been warned that the load times were assigned in seven minute intervals, and if you were late you'd get pushed to the end of the day. So much for sisterly love.
I brought my own labor force — husband, Barry and eager-to-earn-a-free-box-of-Samoas co-worker, Brian Moody. I had asked Brian to stand by with our long-term Tahoe in case we maxed out the Sedona's capacity. To my amazement, all 98 cases were loaded into the Sedona in less than six minutes.
Now as soon as I collect $4,704 from my ten sales girls, I'll be able to enjoy my own box of Thin Mints.
Next up for the body shop
I ran out on Saturday evening to pick up a couple of things needed for dinner and my $10 trip to the local grocery resulted in a few hundred bucks of body damage.
As I walked out of the store, I saw a white Ford Escape driving the wrong way down the aisle where I'd parked the Kia Sedona. Just beyond the Sedona, the Escape cranked a hard right turn, attempting to pull into a parking space that was angled the opposite way. Part way into the spot, the driver decided he couldn't make the turn, backed out, and took off.
It wasn't until I got to the Sedona that I realized the Escape had hit it, scraping and denting the sliding door.
Last night, while slogging though my homeward commute, I was very happy to find a "useable" 12V jack for my iPod FM transmitter/charger.
It's hard enough to locate an empty FM frequency, but I'm annoyed with 12V plugs that are placed in odd places (for my particular use). Inside the center console armrest , in an ashtray, or at the base of the dash don't really help much when trying to flip between podcasts or skip to the next song. With the Sedona's plug location, my iPod was easy to see, and handle safely.
Minivan vs. SUV
It's slightly embarrassing to admit, but I like minivans. Soccer mom stigma or not, their utility combined with their car-like driving characteristics are a draw not found in any other kind of vehicle. When Keymaster Kelly hands me the car list at the end of the day and my choice is between a Chevy Tahoe or Kia Sedona I'll choose the stigma of the minivan over the hassle of the large SUV every time.
On that note, here's another reason to like the Sedona. Its center console (below) is huge and versatile. Since I use the Sedona to haul mountain bikes and fellow cyclists all over Southern California every weekend, having a place to keep requisite recovery drinks, food and magic potions is important. As you can see, there's no shortage of potion space in the Sedona. And the tray folds out of the way if you want to use the space. Nice.
It's So Easy
Whenever we have shopping to do or a lot of things to carry around, the Sedona is usually our first choice. It has plenty of space and is way comfortable. Even with the second row in place, the cargo area is cavernous. And the rear hatch is power operated.
So when you come out of the mall carrying loads of packages, you can press the key fob and the Sedona gets ready to swallow up your purchases. It's also nice to be able to close it with the power button. I wouldn't be able to reach the top if I had to do it manually. I'd have to grab it by the side.
When I first pulled out in the Sedona on Friday night, one of the second row seats was down and one was in the upright position. As I drove through our parking lot, I could hear a squeaking noise. Thinking it was the tumbled seat, I pulled over and raised the seat. But the squeak persisted. I remember Josh blogging about a squeak in the Sedona too. He thought it was because he had the center row removed. So the squeak remains a mystery.
We've been driving the Sedona for about nine months now and we already have over 21,000 miles on it. This morning I was reviewing the fuel log to see what kind of numbers we are earning.
On the average over the life of the vehicle we have been getting 17.7 miles per gallon. Our best-ever tank was 29.3 mpg, our worst was 12.3 mpg.
We're running a little below par as Kia's advertised numbers are 18 city and 25 highway.
Its competitors report similar numbers. The Dodge Caravan claims 17/25, the Honda Odyssey 18/25, the Toyota Sienna 19/26.
Those numbers really aren't that bad for a vehicle that weighs 4,387 pounds. And with gas prices well over $3 in L.A. right now, the Kia Sedona thankfully runs on regular unleaded.
Would-Be Bike Hauler
I'm in the market for a new city bike and have my eye on the Electra Amsterdam. And I was more than happy to take home the Kia Sedona for the weekend so that I could transport my new purchase since my real-life car, the Corolla, could do no such thing without a rack. With easy-to-stow seats and a maximum cargo capacity of 142 cubic feet, I'd have ample room. Plus a power lift gate that opens via the key fob meant that I could load the unwieldly cargo in one fluid motion, without having to struggle with the key and pulling open the heavy lift gate... However, seems the weekend has gotten away from me and I didn't get to buy the bike. Sigh. Instead of a shot of how my beloved Electra fits in the Sedona, you get a shot of the empty but extra-squeaky cabin.
As Hyundai and Kia unveiled so many improved products within such a short time, watchful eyes would notice a slight dichotomy when it came to interior design. Namely, the first batch of cars tended toward a somewhat inelegant, pieced-together appearance while the later models (Azera, Optima, Elantra) possessed a grace and beauty almost on level with Lexus – at least to these eyes.
Well, the Kia Sedona falls into the former group. The center stack is a collection of style-free shapes, the dials are frumpy, the colors aren't exactly vibrant, and the fake wood comes from one of the lower-grade plastic forests.
On the other hand, the Sedona does have tons of storage space, a couple million cupholders, windows that open for everyone, power doors, power liftgate, power points everywhere, and second-row seats that are notably easier to take out and snap in than the Toyota Sienna's. I suppose in a minivan, supreme functionality will suffice.
One Way to Move a Sandbox
Faced with the challenge of moving my daughter's beloved sandbox to our new backyard (without having our long-term Silverado available), I was pleased to find the Kia Sedona open for the weekend. What you see here are the dozen bags of semi-wet sand and a trash can with more wet sand becuause my eyeball estimate was about three bags shy.
With the sand taken care of, there was the not-so-small matter of the sandbox itself.
Had the Silverado been available, moving the now-empty yet fully-entact sandbox four blocks would've been easy-peasy. I didn't have time to disassemble the 30-piece puzzle, so the only solution was to go up. Looking something like a Lincoln Log pop-up camper top, the sandbox fit neatly on the Sedona's roof rack (rated to 165-pounds).
A few canvas straps were all that was needed to putt-putt around the corner and down the block safely. I'm sure that if the Boys in Blue had spotted this too-tall contraption they would've asked to see some identification and checked my rigging. Luckily, the majority of law enforcement was on Shorline Boulevard, keeping an eye on the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, and we made the five-minute drive without incident.
When the Sedona arrived in the new driveway, my three-year old thought it was the funniest thing she had ever seen. "Daddy, that's my sandbox on your car!"
Kia vs. Dodge
As the resident cyclist on staff I probably use our long-term Sedona's flexible cargo area more than anyone else. I appreciate the way its third-row seats flop into the floor with almost no effort and I often fold its second-row seats forward to make room for bikes. But this weekend I found its cargo area isn't optimal when it comes to carrying a ton of people, bikes and gear.
Renting a minivan to haul three people, three bikes and luggage over the weekend in Tennessee forced me to choose between a Dodge Caravan or the Kia.
Naturally, I wanted the Kia — familiarity is a good thing. But when the fine folks at Enterprise refused to keep one of the Sedona's second-row seats (we needed the space), I went for the Dodge and its Stow-N-Go seats which disappear into the floor with little effort. When both rows are folded flat they look like this:
Without anyplace to leave one of the second-row seats, this is the best the Sedona could offer:
If it weren't for the seating arrangement, however, the Dodge has no advantage over the Kia. Its engine and transmission aren't as capable or as flexible. Its ventilation and audio controls lack the Kia's intuitiveness and ease of use and its handling leaves much to be desired. But in the end, its primary function — carrying a ton of cargo and doing it efficiently — is better.
Side Airbag Sticker Hidden Inside
Here's something you don't see everyday. In fact, I've driven this Sedona several times over the past week and just noticed it. It's the side airbag warning sticker, and it tells you all the things you're not supposed to do because of the side airbags. I find myself in a conundrum on this location, because on one hand I hate the obligatory (and unnecessary) airbag warning stickers that litter the average new-car cabin.
On the other hand, putting the sticker in the crevis between the driver's door and the dash hardly seems like an effective way to warn people.
Of course the warnings are as pointless as ever. "Do not use any accessory seat covers." "Do not install any accessories on the seat or near the side airbags." This one actually surprised me: "Do not use excessive force on the side of the seat." I want to know how "excessive force" is defined and how you use it on the side of the seat.
On second thought, no I don't.
Wine Country Trip — Only a Few Whines
A drive from Ventura County to Sonoma County in our long-term Kia Sedona produced only a few whines between vineyard visits. For the most part this van accomplishes the mission of comfortable and capable family transportation. Our EX model has the rear entertainment DVD system with wireless headphones, which means the digital ritalin is always in ready-fire mode for quelling second-row disturbances. The wife, a former 2000 Honda Odyssey owner, was quick to note the Sedona's "floatier" ride and handling, and after four hours both of us noticed a posterior ache from the somewhat squishy seats. After long drives in the aforementioned Odyssey, plus a cross-country jaunt in a 2003 Honda Pilot, we were both somewhat disappointed in the four-hour limit on Sedona seat comfort.
The only other complaint worth noting involved some rather scary brake pedal sensations whenever moderate to severe braking was necessary. Though easily forgotten under most driving conditions, the few times I applied heavy/repeated brake pedal pressure (i.e. coming down a long hill) there was a consistent rumble and vibration that didn't make me happy. We'll have this checked out soon, but otherwise the van proved powerful, relatively fuel efficient (you can get 400 miles on a tank, if you're light on the throttle), and properly equipped. A satellite radio system would have been nice, but the audio system can handle MP3s, so a single CD filled with bad '80s tracks kept me going for the entire 900-mile trip (much to the chagrin of my wife and kids).
Another Use for Spy Mirror
There comes a time in every young car writer's life when he must drive a minivan. At some point, I will have to write about them, so it's good to get acclimated. But I'm about as far away from the typical Sedona buyer as you could get — a mid-20s male with no kids, no pets, or even hobbies that involve large leisure equipment like Fender bass amps or kayaks. Needless to say, my weekly Tuesday-night cruise through UCLA's Westwood Village to meet attractive young women wasn't as successful as usual. When I tried to show off the Sedona's nifty remote sliding doors to a pair of co-eds, they announced they forgot to make a call and started running toward a public phone with a blue light on top. Seriously, who doesn't have a cell phone nowadays? *
Proving that the Sedona is not in fact a good vehicle for picking up women, I decided to find another way for my automotive odd coupling for the evening to pay off.
Then I noticed what I like to call the Sedona's Spy Mirror. This adjustable convex mirror allows parents to keep an eye on their kids to make sure that little Timmy isn't punching little Sally. Or in this day and age, I should say little Aston isn't punching little Orion. Since I had no need to check on the status of five empty seats, I started to realize the spy mirror has another use — as a blind spot mirror. As the photo shows (I don't plan on taking many of those), I could see cars in the Sedona's blind spot that wouldn't be visible in the other mirrors. With enough use, I might have started to use it more than the regular rearview mirror.
* Who didn't actually do this...But if a young guy in a van drives up to you, running for a blue light phone seems like a wise idea
What It's Good For
If you don't have a load of Muppets to cart around everyday in a minivan, the Sedona is still a practical choice as it makes a great cargo van with its third row folded flat.
I needed a large vehicle this weekend to pick up a chair and I knew the Sedona would be able to handle the load. Last weekend, I tried to pick up this same chair but I was driving a compact SUV for a road test I am working on and the chair would not fit. The Sedona had room to spare.
It swallowed up my chair with only the third row stowed. If I needed more space, the Sedona offers 142 cu.ft. of cargo capacity with both rows out of the way.
Some of the power-operated functions are starting to exhibit spotty reliability. Sometimes, the driver side sliding door doesn't want to close. The button inside that initiates the close only works sometimes. If you tug on the handle, it will kick in and start to close automatically. But this weekend it kept popping right back open again. I had to try closing it repeatedly before it decided to stay shut. Now, every time I open the side door, I'm afraid it's not going to close again.
On another note, the Sedona was pretty messy when I took possession on Friday. It looked like the cookie monster exploded in there. Crumbs everywhere. So I treated her to a car wash and a good vacuum.
1 Thing I Already Knew About the Kia Sedona
Minivans are awesome! Anyone who's not buying one because of image is lame.
In addition to hauling around cousins and a grandparent all weekend, the Sedona also proved useful in another way. My wife and I have been looking for a good patio set but refuse to pay $650 - $1000 for a new one.
Thank goodness for Craigslist.
We picked up a 66x40 in. table and six non-colapsable chairs. The load didn't look pretty but it all fit - no second trip to The Valley for me. Love that Sedona.
I removed the second row seats and while the process is easy, the chairs are quite heavy - too heavy, I'm guessing, for the average Cub Scouts mom to handle on her own. Remember, I said average.
Change in Lifestyle
This weekend, our long-term Kia Sedona lived the active single life with me as I drove it to a hip downtown bar to meet up with an old friend visiting from out of town, to a trailhead in the Angeles National Forest for a 9-mile hike, down over to Playa del rey along with my bike so I could cruise down to the Fiesta Hermosa street festival, to Long Beach for the requisite Memorial Day barbecue and then to West Hollywood for a Wii party.
And, surprisingly enough, I didn't feel like its soccer mom persona cramped my style all that much. I liked how it has 242 horsepower so that I could surprise Harley-riding weekend warriors and cruising Porsche pilots and jump onto the freeway at a decent speed without getting in people's way. I liked how the doors opened themselves via the key fob, making loading and unloading bulky cargo stressfree.
The only real problem I had with the Kia was figuring out how to fold over its second-row seats. I read, pondered, and stared at the instructions and diagrams on the seats and in the manual trying to figure out how I could make room for my bike without wedging it into the cargo area. But I just couldn't make sense of any of it. I didn't see what pull tab or whatever they were telling me to pull in Step 3. Wha? In any case, my bike fit in there fine with the seats still there. It just would have been a lot easier to get out and in minus those immovable seats.
Soon after the odometer turned 25k, the Sedona's tire pressure monitor warned us of a flat right-rear tire. It was just our luck that the screw we picked up punctured the tire where the tread meets the sidewall. We needed to replace the tire altogether.
The Kia dealership closest to our Santa Monica office was 12.5 miles away. That being said, traveling 20 miles to Car Pros Kia in Carson didn't seem too much farther out of our way. We had positive experiences with them in the past, so we scheduled an appointment.
We weren't disappointed.
Service on the Sedona consisted of an oil and filter change, tire rotation, fluid top-offs and the usual safety inspections. We were charged $143 for a new Michelin Energy LX4 tire with an additional $20 charge for mounting and balancing. Our total invoice came to $227.34 for the service and tire replacement.
Can't Cope with the Slope
I love, love, love dual power-sliding doors on minivans. With the push of a button on the headliner, door post, or key fob, they make a departure or an arrival an event to behold. They also provide a mini Apocalyse Now fantasy. You know the scene: Flying a Huey through the jungle with Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" blasting through the outboard speakers? Anyway, the 2006 Kia Sedona has those (not the speakers), but more: Power side doors, power-tilt/slide moonroof (natch), and power up-down lift gate, too. Cool eh? I discovered a problem, however.
Parked in my driveway, neither side door would fully open nor close when using the cool, powered feature. With what appears to be a mere 5-degree incline, the Sedona's side doors would slide almost the whole distance open, then beep in protest and stop short of being fully open, as if there was something stopping their progress. In the other direction, I assumed the slope would help them close more easily, but no. With the same beeping protest, the front edge would tuck in and the rear would attempt to latch with a "click, buzz, and clunk," and again, the same alert that the door hadn't made the whole trip.
To be certain the doors weren't malfunctioning in general, I tried both on level ground and they worked flawlessly. Did the Sedona always have this trouble with inclines? Could the electric motors have grown tired? Dunno, but it does seem like an oversight that a minivan's power-sliding doors can't cope with a 5-degree slope.
Edmunds.com spent 12 months on the road with our 2006 Kia Sedona EX and spun its odometer over 25,000 miles. Our long-term review of the minivan can be boiled down to one word: value.
Why We Bought It
When the Kia Sedona first went on sale it was inexpensive, but as the new kid on the block it was at a distinct disadvantage. The competition was well-seasoned and the upstart Sedona struggled to prove that inexpensive isn't synonymous with cheap.
For 2006 the Sedona was all-new, and Kia's best effort yet. Weight decreased and proportions increased, improving both fuel economy and athleticism. The lackluster acceleration of previous generations had been addressed with a new 3.8-liter V6. Its 244 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque rank the engine at the top of its class.
These additions broadened the appeal of the Sedona and caught our eye. The Kia was not merely the affordable minivan with a 100,000-mile warranty. It now offered improved quality and performance, and also cost significantly less than the class-leading offerings from Honda and Toyota.
The 2006 Sedona is built to a price point, but it's clear that Kia is working to give customers good value for their money. Our premise with this test was to take the low-cost leader, subject it to the rigors of minivan life and see how it holds up.
Our Sedona EX was up against stiff competition from the start. Inside Line's long-term test of the 2005 Honda Odyssey was still fresh in our minds, so expectations were high for the Kia.
Family vacations were test No. 1. Director of Vehicle Testing Dan Edmunds commented during a summer excursion, "Everything is here, and then some. My kids really like the rear DVD system and it works well. It is not obvious at first that the 'AUX' button pumps the DVD sound out through the speakers. It works well when you have more moviegoers than the number of supplied (2) headphones."
Another test cast the Sedona in the role of moving van. On one occasion News Editor and Brownie Troop 421 cookie-mom Kelly Toepke volunteered the Sedona for duty. It swallowed up 1,176 boxes of Girl Scout cookies without complaint. On the long-term blog pages she wrote, "We folded the Sedona's rear bench flat and attempted to remove the second-row chairs before heading to the warehouse. One seat came out easily, but the other wouldn't release. After nearly 10 minutes of trying we decided to leave the seat in the minivan. To my amazement, all 98 cases of cookies were loaded into the Sedona in less than six minutes."
Senior Road Test Editor Josh Jacquot also ran into trouble removing the second-row seats. He wrote, "I had to use a hand truck to move the seats between the Sedona and my garage because of their weight. Each was massive enough to make me retrieve the bathroom scale to get to the bottom of the issue. Sixty-one point eight pounds each — not exactly feathery. Otherwise the Sedona performed brilliantly, swallowing my new love seat without issue."
When they weren't hauling people, the rear seats of our minivan were stowed. Three rows of seats just weren't conducive to shuttling pallets of cookies and living room furniture. When we replaced the second row and raised the third-row seats from the floor, the squeaks began. Without passengers to weigh them down, the seats caused quite a ruckus by the conclusion of our test.
Issues with the Sedona were not limited to squeaking seat brackets. A blown fuse was the cause of a power-sliding door failure near the 3,000-mile mark but was quickly remedied under warranty. Kia's extensive warranty also covered a glitch in the radio head unit of our optional Infinity sound system, once we found a reliable dealership.
Dealer service proved to be our Sedona's most problematic issue. The radio repair brought this to light. Worthington Kia in Long Beach, California, had serviced our long-term Spectra5 to our satisfaction, so we returned to them for the Sedona stereo issue. We were surprised to learn they were under new management and now called Kia of Long Beach. They were very nice people, so we were willing to give them a second chance after ordering the wrong radio the first time. Numerous unreturned phone calls into their second chance, we drove to the dealership in person, only to find that they, too, had gone out of business.
To our rescue came the folks at Car Pros Kia in Carson. We had finally found a dealership to fix our radio. All remaining scheduled service on the Sedona also took place at this location. We were fortunate to have the friendly and helpful Yuri Sanchez as our service advisor. She secured our vote of confidence after locating a replacement Michelin Energy LX4 on short notice. A nail in its sidewall caused the premature purchase.
Our Sedona did not break down on us once. In fact, the only time it spent out of service was during some cosmetic surgery. A hit-and-run motorist struck our minivan in the parking lot of a local grocery store and caused $570 worth of damage.
Total Body Repair Costs: $570
Total Routine Maintenance Costs (over 12 months): $247.42
Additional Maintenance Costs: $215.96
Warranty Repairs: Replace power-sliding door switch and liftgate pinch strip
Non-Warranty Repairs: Replace a damaged tire
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 2
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: None
Days Out of Service: 6
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: None
Performance and Fuel Economy
There may not be a category for hot-rod minivans, but the Sedona is as quick as they come. Its 8.8-second 0-60-mph time confidently bested all entries in our 2006 minivan comparison test. The engine offers great power for a minivan, though it's not utilized to its full potential over steep hill climbs because the transmission tends to search excessively for the appropriate gear. A switch to manual-shift mode alleviates this otherwise annoying issue.
Over its lifetime, the fuel economy of our Sedona EX was erratic. Its powerful engine would burn fuel rapidly unless the driver made a conscious effort to lighten his right foot. Our best tank was over 29 mpg, although the average over 25,000 miles was just shy of 18 mpg.
Best Fuel Economy: 29.3 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 12.3 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 17.8 mpg
As minivans go, we were very pleased with the capability and functionality of our long-term Sedona. A well-equipped EX is available for under $30K and our option-laden version wore an MSRP of $31,365. It's the low-cost leader in this segment when it comes to purchase price. Unfortunately resale price is another story.
CarSpace member "Siennami" posted a concern regarding depreciation in the Sedona owners' forums. Siennami wrote, "I did a valuation on my 2006 LX. I've had it for 7 months and it has 7,700 miles. Imagine my surprise when I found the value to be only $14,000. What have I done?"
When our EX's tour of duty came to a close we entered its vitals into the Edmunds.com True Market Value® calculator to find it valued at $18,850. By the end of our review the Sedona had depreciated a staggering 40.8 percent over 12 months.
True Market Value at service end: $18,580
Depreciation: $12,785 or 40.8% of original MSRP
Final Odometer Reading: 25,043
We experienced only minor issues with our Sedona outside of its regular maintenance schedule, and each of them fell under Kia's incredible warranty. Mechanical reliability was never questioned over its 25,000-mile lifetime in our fleet. Its low purchase price and good quality make it a great value up front.
When it comes to resale value, Kia does not yet have the same reputation as its Japanese counterparts. The Sedona is a quality product, but its incredible depreciation rate is a testament to its lack of popularity among used car buyers.
If we wanted a minivan to buy and drive until it would drive no more, the Sedona is the best value of any on the market. But if we wanted a minivan to buy, drive for a few years and then resell, the Sedona is a losing proposition.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.