Best Minivan on the Market?
Solid, sturdy and upscale. The 2015 Kia Sedona has proved itself a winner as the ideal minivan.
Based on our recent evaluation, the best minivan on the market today doesn’t come from Chrysler, Dodge, Toyota, or Honda. It comes from Kia. The all-new 2015 Kia Sedona is the classic case study of benchmarking the competition and studying the market when developing a new vehicle. As a result, the allnew 2015 Kia Sedona addresses all the aforementioned competitor’s shortcomings and listening to minivan owners to develop a product that “delights” the market.
Invented by Chrysler, the Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Town and Country have long dominated this segment, in terms of product innovation and sales. And even though the current product is seven years old and survived three separate owners, these minivans were, until this year, the best minivan value on the market. The 2015 Kia Sedona seems to have come from nowhere to seize the minivan crown. The previous generation model was extremely lacking. It almost seemed that Kia offered this product just to capture a share of this once hot market segment. Instead, it seems that Kia was using that product to gather market data , benchmarking the competition as well as listening to what minivan buyers to develop an “ideal minivan” wish list. To say Kia was successful would be an understatement. Kia has proved that they have the design, engineering, and manufacturing capabilities to significantly move upscale. Having set a few weeks in their flagship sedan, the K900, it was clear that Mercedes, BMW, Audi, and Jaguar should be worried. Kia is using some of the same suppliers at the aforementioned premium brands. As a result, the K900 is better than anything that Lexus and Infiniti are offering.
Kia brought that same spirit when redesign the Sedona. When you approach the 2015 Kia, the exterior looks solid, sturdy, and upscale. The bold look, uniform narrow gaps, longer hood, tastefully applied chrome, and mesh grill allow the Sedona to stand out in a sea of minivan “boxes”. In fact, if Land River were to ever offer a minivan, it would most likely look a lot like the 2015 Sedona.
The interior has that same upscale, sold feel. The dash looked solid, with the controls ergonomically placed. The driver slight lines, as well as passenger visibility, are outstanding.
Hard plastic is kept to a minimum (it’s a minivan, after all– you have to expect some). The carpeting feels nice and seems to be easy to clean. Our test vehicle had standard “Nappa” leather seating surfaces. The seats felt more like a comfortable easy chair than a car seat. The front seats car be heated or cooled. And the second row passengers are in for a treat. Our “Limited” model features as standard equipment, reclining leather seats. Called “first class lounge seating”, the second row seats are as comfortable as the best from La-Z-Boy. This was the first minivan we tested where our passengers called, “second row” rather than “shotgun”! To say our Sedona was a hit in the SLUGG lines would be an understatement. Kia must have benchmarked the Mercedes RL in terms of driving dynamics and comfort. Quiet, responsive, and nimble, we found the Sedona to be a delight to drive on the Interstates, the Suburbs, and in the city . We have no problems driving the Sedona in the various DC Metro area underground garages, or parallel parking the vehicle along the DC and Arlington area streets. The big mirrors, various parking sensors and rear view camera provided welcome assistance during our parking maneuvers.
The only questionable feature in the all-new Sedona is the lack of power folding third row seats. Perhaps the Kia research showed that most minivan owners buy those vehicles for the extra seating capacity, therefore they are always deployed. And pulling up to the SLUGG line with a nearly empty minivan generates a fair amount of excitement. However, observing minivans owners at the locals warehouse stores, a good number of them fold down both rows of seats to take full advantage of the large cargo area. Therefore, it’s quite puzzling that Kia would opt to equip the Sedona with heavy, manually folding third row seats. The 2015 Kia Sedona reflects a new manufacturer practice of offering nicely equipped products at various price points. Our Sedona Limited was fully loaded, with the dual sunroof, high intensity discharge xenon headlights, dual screen entertainment systems, collision warning system, and towing package as the only options. Something odd has happened with the minivan market. With some of the highest percentage of repeat buyers, today’s minivan buyers now want their minivans to be fully loaded. And it’s just not active families buying them, it’s aging baby boomers. This group is buying these vehicles to use as a “mobile family rooms/offices” as they roam the country, visiting family and places on their “bucket list”. It’s no wonder that mobile WiFi was first introduced in the Dodge Caravan/Chrysler Town and Country. For the manufacturers, the minivan has now become one of their most profitable products.
The 2015 Kia Sedona minivan is designed with the same winning philosophy that has made all the new Kia products market successes. In short, the 2015 Kia Sedona is more fun to drive than the Honda Odyssey, better built that the Toyota Sienna, and a better value than the Chrysler Town and Country or Dodge Caravan.
So why should Kia be worried? Well, next year, the company that invented the minivan, Chrysler, is introducing the allnew Chrysler Town and Country minivan. If this all-new product has the design features, refined driving characteristics, and manufacturing fit and finished that we’ve seen in other Chrysler products launched by this new ownership group, it could be the Town and Country again wearing the minivan crown.