CarTest! Expert car reviews and advice     |     home
up      previous  next

Long test drive of Kia's 2002 Sedona EX Luxury minivan impresses.

2002 Kia Sedona Road Test
Excels in features per dollar

By Bill Roebuck

Aug. 21, 2002 -- Four leather captain's chairs, seven-passenger seating, sunroof, front and rear air conditioning controls, power rear vent windows, a competent stereo with CD player, power locks with remote keyless entry, power heated mirrors, and rain-sensor wipers. It was all there, and was I surprised.

When I picked up a 2002 Sedona EX Luxury minivan for a test drive, I have to admit I hadn't been expecting much. I already was aware of the price and was anticipating something clunky and spartan. I was very, very wrong. Highlights
2002 Kia Sedona
Category: Minivan
Seats: 7
Cargo Cap.: 617 L (21.8 cu ft) behind 3rd row; 3,610 L (127.5 cu ft)
with 2nd & 3rd row seats removed
Engine: 195-hp 3.5-litre V6
Litres/100 km, City / Hwy.: 15.5/10.8 (18/26 mpg)
Price (Cdn): LX (base) $24,595, EX $27,595,   EX Luxury $29,595
Pros: Comfortable seating, well-designed inside & out, lots of storage cubbies, smooth & quiet ride, long warranty, excellent value
Cons: Limited cargo capacity behind 3rd row seats, oversprung rear hatch, fuel economy
After spending about two weeks with the Sedona and putting over 5,000 km on the odometer, I can give it a hearty recommendation. It handles very well, is powerful and fast, is smooth riding and quiet, feels well built, has plenty of room inside, and it certainly performed better than expected.

The Sedona is powered by a 3.6-litre V6 engine that produces 195 hp. It's mated to a smooth-shifting, five-speed automatic transmission. The combination produced very responsive acceleration. The brakes -- discs in the front, drums in the rear -- felt firm and strong.

In the features-per-dollar category, the Sedona really kicks. The price for a base LX is $24,595, a well-equipped EX is $27,595 and the top-line EX with the luxury package (with leather seating and a sunroof) is $29,595.

There are plenty of features on the base model to almost make it a satisfactory choice -- but you need to order the EX model to get ABS brakes. The EX also gives you two-tone paint, alloy wheels, fog lamps, nice wood-grain trim, leather-covered steering wheel and shifter, a cassette player in addition to a CD player, roof rack, front power captain's chairs, a front-row folding table, cruise control, power rear quarter windows and remote keyless entry.

Steering feel is precise -- not too heavy and not too light. The handling, though not completely car-like (like a Dodge Caravan), is certainly not trucky (like a Ford Windstar). Even in blustery weather, the Sedona was not sensitive to crosswinds. The body structure felt firm and solid. Very little wind noise penetrated the cabin, even at highway speeds, which is notable, considering the size of the vehicle.

The Sedona has a high-up driving position for a clear view of the road. Even so, it was easy to slide smoothly into the driver's seat. I drove the Sedona on vacation to Prince Edward Island and around Quebec's Gaspé region, so had many hours of seat time. Even so, none of my passengers complained of stiffness or a sore back. All the seats are very comfortable and supportive.

Access to the middle- and third-row seating is through a pair of sliding side doors. Their mounting tracks are concealed along the bottom edge of the side windows, so there's no ugly slash alongside the body. However, I found that these doors sometimes offered resistance to opening and closing. A power sliding option is not available.

The Sedona is quite roomy inside. Headroom and legroom are plentiful in all rows. There are several storage compartments throughout the cabin. I especially liked the double glove boxes -- one above the other. Dual storage pockets are located in both passenger doors. There's also a covered storage compartment on top of the dash and a small slide-out drawer under the passenger seat.

A simple fold-down tray between the front seats proved to be convenient. A slide-out extension is built into it as well. There are eight cupholders in the LX, 10 in the EX.

Although the third-row bench seat doesn't fold flat or into the floor like on some competitive minivans, it does split, and both halves are removable separately, giving storage and passenger-carrying flexibility. Grocery bag holders are built in.

The cargo space behind the third-row seats is only 617 litres (21.8 cu ft), a bit tight. Since we had five passengers, we removed one rear seat to increase the luggage capacity. As a result, everyone had their own individual seat and we had lots of  room for luggage.

There were no complaints from the second- or third-row passengers. Getting out of the back seat wasn't a problem, as it is in many other vehicles with third-row seating. All six headrests are adjustable, and all three rows of passengers get reading lights -- a real convenience on long trips. For the power hungry, the Sedona provides a total of four 12-volt power outlets in the front, middle and rear.

The second- and third-row seats, which slide fore and aft like the front-row seats, can be removed individually when you need more cargo space. With the second- and third-row seats removed, cargo volume rises to 3,610 litres (127.5 cu ft). Towing capacity is 1,587 kg (3,500 lb).

The dash is laid out properly, with all controls and instruments well located. Control knobs are large enough for easy adjustment. Second-row passengers get their own fan control for the ceiling vents, even on the base model. An overhead driver's display shows useful trip and fuel data.

The headlights provide very good illumination of the road. Here's a neat feature -- if you put it in drive with the parking brake on, an alarm sounds.

The only truly annoying characteristic of our test Sedona was the rear hatch. When you pull it open, it suddenly and powerfully swings up. If you don't pay attention, it could easily clobber you in the head. (This might have been a quirk of our particular tester, however.)

The Sedona's weight (2,136 kg or 4,709 lb), while making it feel sturdy, works against fuel economy. I averaged 13 l/100 km on my trip -- a blend of highways, hilly country roads and small-town touring. That's likely the worst you'd get -- prudent driving and a light load would improve the number. Kia advertises mileage figures of 15.5 l/100 km city and 10.8 on the highway (18-26 mpg), using regular grade fuel.

The exterior style is not unlike other minivans -- I thought it looked most like a Chevrolet Venture. It's about the same size as a Toyota Sienna -- in between the short-box and extended-length versions of other makes. In EX trim, I think it has quite a nice appearance -- for a minivan.

While I can't vouch for the Sedona's long-term reliability or customer satisfaction ratings compared to its competitors, Kia has such eased concerns by sticking a five-year, 100,000 km comprehensive warranty on all its vehicles. A five-year roadside assistance package also is included.

If you want a well-equipped, solidly built, nice-driving vehicle that has comfortable seating for six or seven, and flexible cargo-carrying capacity, the Sedona is certainly worthy of a test drive.

© Copyright Bill Roebuck, 2002.

Interior highlights of the 2002 Kia Sedona

Search CarTest!
Custom Search