I bought this minivan after having owned a 1994 Grand Caravan and then owned a 2001 Dodge Caravan. What attracted me to this van was value. At that time (10 years ago, in 2006) the Chrysler products offered only stow-and-go on the higher trim levels and captains chairs in the middle row, and rear air-conditioning and heat was not available in the base model. The Chrysler twins: Grand Caravan/Chrysler Town and Country, only offered the bigger engine (the 3.8 liter and later the 4.0 liter) on the upscale models with more options. The base engine (3.3 Liter at 185 HP pushing nearly 5,000 lbs) was sluggish and the base model had rear drum brakes and not disks. Also the car had a leaf spring rear suspension, not independent rear suspension. To move a 3.8 Liter engine, (at about 225 HP) and rear disk brakes, middle seat as a captain chairs and not a bench and a stow-and-go seating , instead of removing a very heavy rear back seat ) required going from $21k to $29k in the Dodge Caravan and to go to nearly $32k in the Chrysler Town and Country. A jump of $8k in price is very significant. So for me, I wanted to be in the low 20's in the purchase price, not mid 20's or low thirties . The Kia was available only in trim levels: EX and LX with all the same options, but basically the LX added power sliding doors, leather, and wood grain accents to HVAC area. So for around $21k for the Kia, you were getting rear-air and heat, and big engine, and better handling and power than the mid-to-higher priced Chrysler. You need to spend at least $10,000 more to get the same options from Chrysler. To me, it was a very good value.
After owning the car for 10 years, here's what is good about it and bad about it. On the plus side, the big 3.8 Liter engine puts out nearly 250 HP and this van, really moves. It's not a sports car, but for a mini-van, it has very good power. It's handling is very, very car like and you feel like you are basically driving a big car. It handles better than the Chrysler. The Dodge Caravan (Dodge is Chrysler) is basically a big box on wheels. After 5 or 6 years, you start hearing crackling and noise, but the Kia is still quiet inside the cabin at 10 years of age. I did basic oil changes and I changed the transmission fluid at 60k miles and again at 120k miles. There was an electrical harness problem, but the dealer fixed it under warranty. While under warranty, the repairs are none out of pocket. The repairs however cost a lot more money once the car ages. For example to do a simple tune up, because the car has a D.O.H.C wide engine, you need to take off the intake plenum to get to the rear spark plugs. The E.G.R system is expensive and very complex, with a lot of sensors. One annoying thing I found is that the steel cable under the car that lowers the spare tire is very, very hard to pull the spare tire up once the car is jacked up and you have a flat. The factory supplied jackstand is a joke, and do yourself a favor and buy yourself a hydraulically assisted jack stand that can lift a truck, because that's what you really have in terms of weight. The new Kia's don't even come with a spare tire! What a joke not to provide a spare tire! The cable that lower the spare tire snapped on 3 occasions in my case ($300 each time) and is a non-warranty item. i started carrying my spare in my trunk. If the cable snaps and the spare tire falls into the car behind you while at high way speed, this will kill the passengers in the car behind you on a highway. So the cable snapping that supports the spare tire is no joke. It may have never happened to others, but over 10 years it did happen to me. The car never overheated. Has proven to be very reliable overall. The car with good care can easily go past 150,000 miles. The cost to maintain is high once you get past the warranty stage. It doesn't have the transmission problems I had in the Dodge Caravan's I've owned. Those had reliable engines, but not so reliable transmissions, which both the 1994 and the 2001 I had required a rebuild (first one at 75,000 miles) and the second one at 90,000 miles). The Kia so far never missed a shift. I also like it's non-CVT transmission so many, many repair shops know how to deal with it if you do have a problem. The Dodge products required a new water pump in one case, at 65,000 miles. Not the Kia. I still have the original water pump. The engine is chain driven, not belt driven, another way to make sure you don't have the cost of replacing a timing belt.
So in sum, it's a great family car. It was a great value in its time relative what was available in 2006. I got a fully loaded minivan, for the price of the no-frills model in the Dodge Caravan. (I've owned two of them previously). The van had none of the problems of my previous Dodge Caravans: No transmission problem, water pump failure, or other super expensive repairs. The interior remains quiet and free of rattle and wind noise even 10 years later.Recommend.
Bought this car in 2010 when family expanded with twins. Rear passenger power door works about about 10% of the time. Only a few trips to mechanic for some leaks, oil and radiator. But expensive repairs when needed. Blows signal bulbs and headlight bulbs every three months, which I learned to fix proficiently on my own. Drove this van on numerous family trips all over, and some very long distance trips as well. Never once did it break down and leave us stranded, never once did it fail to start. Not the highest quality, but great value. I couldn't afford a Honda or Toyota, but those have their own problems too, just research them. Also we were severely rear ended with all of my kids in the car, including a three year-old in the third row seat. The rear window blew up but the door stayed solid and didn't come anywhere near the third row. At the end of the day I would trust a Kia with my family.
Well we bought the vehicle used and the the fist thing that happened when we took it to the Kia dealer for complete service, the vehicle was in great shape until they did a recall on the left rear passenger door, the dealer was replacing the rear door latch. Since then the door has not opened on it's own. Sometimes we have to play with the controls to make the rear door close properly.
This has been a phenomenal vehicle for me and my family. We've put 170K miles on it since we bought it in '06. It's been on numerous trips from Houston to Ohio and Michigan and other 1000 mile treks. The only issues with it have been self inflicted damage to the rear suspension on a few occasions. Really wish it had a little more hauling capacity. We changed out the head unit for a more modern system so the entertainment and Bluetooth is better than stock. Replacing the spark plugs was not fun but not impossible. Rides as smooth as silk. Very good engine & transaxle - no issues. Kia did this one very right.
Used to have a Dodge Caravan, compared to that JUNK, this Kia is MUCH better. Yes, it has had the trips to the dealer, (2) for warranty related work, but compared to the NON-warranty trips I had with the Dodge, I would NEVER buy Mopar AGAIN!!
Not a bad van for the money. I bought it used with 24k and have since gone past the warranty and just bought new tires for it.