"It's a multipurpose vehicle (MPV)," said Kia Product Planning VP Orth Hedrick of the 2015 Sedona, introduced at the 2014 New York International Auto Show. Although it has a some crossover characteristics and European-themed styling, the Sedona has been and continues to function as a minivan. Only some preliminary dimensions are available now, and they seem to be reasonably close to the previous model, and in the same general area as the competition, which tells you the market has a defined 7-8 passenger package, even for what is an all-new vehicle. Wheelbase is 120.5 in (3059 mm), and overall length is 201.4 in (5114 mm). The Sedona is planned for a mid- to late-Fall introduction.
The 3.5-L V6 has been replaced by a direct-injection version of the 3.3-L V6, rated at 276 hp (206 kW) and 248 lb·ft (336 N·m) and mated to the corporate six-speed automatic. The performance improvement is modest, as the 3.5-L V6 was rated at 269 hp (201 kW) and 246 lb·ft (334 N·m), but it's likely that the newer engine with direct injection will deliver better fuel economy than the 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway U.S. EPA numbers of the 3.5, although the numbers aren't available yet.
All-wheel drive, with a locking center differential and TVBB (torque vectoring by brake) for cornering assistance, is optional on all models.
High-strength, ultra-high-strength steel chassis
The Sedona is the last of the Kia line to get a total makeover inspired by Peter Schreyer, because it is going on an all-new platform, and is the first vehicle to be built on it.
The new platform's engineering claim to fame is that it's a really strong steel structure that should result in a solid piece of surefooted transportation. It has 76% high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel, and is assembled with larger diameter spot welds—8 vs. 6 mm (0.31 vs. 0.24 in)—and 121 m (397 ft) of structural body adhesive.
The body rigidity is claimed to be class-leading, but Kia provides only static numbers, and without the methodology and measurement locations, the only apples-to-apples comparison can be with the previous model. The torsional stiffness for the 2015 model is 34.5 x 10⁴ kgf/m²/rad, vs. 19.8 x 10⁴ for the 2014, which Kia claims is 36% higher than its closest (unnamed) competitor.
The Sedona has been engineered to pass the small offset test, Hedrick said, and it includes ultra-high-strength steel tubing in the A-pillars. The front-end members are tied together to transmit crash energy through the A-pillars into the roof rails and floor rails.
The roof and pan crossmembers connect the A-, B-, C-, and D-pillars, distribute side and front impact loads from the side pillars, and provide rollover protection. The profile design also forms a crush-resistant box section (A- and B-pillars, roof, and side sills) that protect the drivers and contribute to the engineered distribution of crash energy. Kia said it is confident the Sedona will earn a U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 5-star rating and an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick.
A quiet cabin is becoming the price of entry in the market today, and Kia went beyond that high-strength structure to install many acoustic treatments. Among them: the sliding doors have double seals and the fender liners have polyurethane foam, a premium upgrade vs. the typical resin/felt material, which is also used for front struts insulation. The AWD tunnel has a layer of glass wool, a new area of coverage.
For an improved ride, the Sedona will be using amplitude-reactive dampers. These shocks, which first came into wide use on premium SUVs, have an internal rebound spring for anti-roll and two valves. One is the primary piston that handles low-amplitude inputs; a second slides along the piston rod and then takes over for the higher level impacts.
The SXL is the top of the Sedona line and among its features is rack-mounted electric power steering (EPS) system for more precise handling. Other models have a conventional hydraulic assist system, although EPS is an option on the SX.
Smart Welcome, hands-free liftgate
Optional is a power liftgate that sets a new standard for automatic operation. If a key-holding passenger stands within a meter of the tailgate, a proximity sensor will pick up the signal. In a few seconds the liftgate will open automatically--for hands- and feet-free operation. This is part of what Kia calls a "Smart Welcome," and also includes automatic extension of retracted outside mirrors, unlocking the doors, and lighting up the door handles. The feature is a driver-selectable menu item on the steering wheel controls, and the height of the tailgate opening can be set for the driver's preference.
A multi-camera system that displays on the control stack monitor is available to assist with parking and maneuvering in tight quarters.
Kia's UVO infotainment philosophy is to base the in-vehicle system on a smartphone, with free e-Services. In addition to the generally available ones, such as Apple Siri Eyes Free, Yelp, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Google Local Search, etc., there are several Kia-exclusive new ones. They include Geo-Fencing (alerting the owner if the vehicle is driven outside a pre-determined geographical area), Curfew Limit and Speed Alert (notifying the owner if the vehicle is kept past a pre-arranged time or exceeds a pre-set speed), Find My Car (GPS-based location information), and Driving Score (a rating system). Previously, Kia had introduced Car Finder, a smartphone app which allowed the driver to store the location of the car he was parking, with map and photos.
Other convenience features are two electronics charging systems: a high-power (2.1 a) USB port and a 115-V outlet. The glovebox has two separate sections, with the lower one containing an A/C register for cooling food or beverages.
The third row in a three-seat-row model is a straightforward 60/40 split, fold-flat design. However, the second-row seating on a three-row is available in three flavors. One is "slide and stow," in which the seat slides forward and folds forward to a vertical position. A second is a three-seat section with the center seat either removable (to accommodate long items) or a fold-flat to table-type (cup holders, etc.). The top choice is a pair of "First Class" lounge seats that slide fore-aft and side-to-side, and include retractable lower leg rests.
There is no Hyundai minivan. The last one, a rebadged Sedona called the Entourage, never competed successfully, and was discontinued over four years ago, leaving the Sedona to carry the Hyundai-Kia corporate flag in the segment.