2016 Kia Sedona SX-L
Midnight Sapphire w/ Burgundy Leather
Retail as shown $44,690
By Bill Boekholder
I had the pleasure of testing out the 2016 Kia Sedona S-XL for a long road trip with my wife and sons. I picked the Sedona up in Chicago on a Tuesday evening to bring back to my home about two hours away. I didn’t get a lot of seat time to figure out some of the systems that day, but I was able to figure out the cruise control enough to get me home. Let me tell you, the cruise control takes some getting used to because of the added features, but once you get used to it, it is easy to use and control.
On Wednesday we made the six hour trip south to St. Louis to pick up our oldest son. This gave me plenty of opportunity to continue to play with the cruise control and some of the other features of the Sedona. Getting used to the cruise took me a little longer than I had expected, but I was able to push through and get comfortable with it. The one thing that got me was the radar distance feature. Once you turn on the cruise and set your speed, you can adjust the distance between you and the cars in front of you. Couple this with the lane departure system, and you have a set it and forget it feature; the computer is really accurate in keeping that distance a constant and warning you when you veer out of your lane. Once you are in traffic, it will not only slow you down and match the speed of the car in front of you, but once the road is clear again, the Sedona gets back up to speed in no time. The part that takes getting used to is learning how to switch lanes so when you come up on a vehicle, you won’t slow down.
Thursday was the long haul day, St. Louis to Denver. We got an early start to head to Kansas City for some breakfast casserole at a friend’s house. The headlights and fog lights really lit up the road that early in the morning. The lights cast a really nice glow off to the side of the road, which came in handy for spotting deer. The high beams were really bright and had an auto dimming feature, which really helped avoid blinding other drivers. The auto dimming works great for detecting cars coming at you, as well as cars in front of you. I only wish that the setting for the high beams would come on first, then the auto dim feature. The interior lighting, especially sitting in the driver’s seat, makes you feel like you’re flying the space shuttle. The switches, knobs and buttons are very well arranged and easy to use. My one complaint would be that the lettering needs to be a tad bit larger and maybe a different color instead of red. Maybe a white or a green, just something a little brighter than the red. Now this might be for us older folk that don’t need glasses for driving, but need them for reading. After feasting on a really great casserole, we came out to a flat tire hissing and spewing its green slimy life blood at us. We were able to air the tire back up and get to a Discount Tire down the road. Ryan Kyle and his crew in Liberty Missouri took great care of us. They removed the tire, put a patch inside and had us back on the road in about an hour. I highly recommend this place for tire service, they were great.
After getting back on the road to Denver, I was able to play a little more with the navigation system (although we really didn’t need it on this stretch, because interstate 70 isn’t the most exciting road to travel over going through Kansas). Setting the navigation was pretty straightforward, especially with the prompts from the computer. Entering your destination is a snap with address, street, town and state being the main criteria to get you going. You have a lot of options such as points of interest, restaurants, or you can do a search for places. Having the screen placed a little closer to the driver and passenger would be a great help, maybe a swivel type screen setup to accomplish this? Another nice feature was when you get low on gas, the navigation will ask you if you want to find a gas station close to you. Answer yes and it gives you directions to it. I only had to use this once, but it was still pretty cool to have. Just throwing this out there, but since the navigation has these features, maybe consider adding a “find nearest hotels” button for us late night, last minute travelers.
Tooling around Denver was a breeze. The Sedona’s V-6 has way more power than you think. Even with 5 adults in it, it had no problem keeping up to cruise with the big boy drivers (well, those that thought they were) in the big metropolises of Colorado and the crazy traffic of Chicago before the trip. We decided to take a little side trip up into Estes Park and the Rocky Mountain National Park. On a side note, Estes Park has squat diddly open on Christmas day, so if you’re hungry, the BP has sandwiches. Driving the big, icy, snow packed roads of the park was easy. Driving the hills, the six speed transmission kicked down smoothly and effortlessly going up. Going down, slap the lever into manual, pick your gear, and the Sedona did a phenomenal job of maintaining the desired speed. This helped on saving the brakes, which I’m sure is an issue a lot during the summer in the heat. Since this was the winter time, we really didn’t have to worry about overheating brakes, but it was still fun to play with.
After spending two days in Denver, time to head south to Colorado Springs. Not much happening in the Springs, so we decide it’s time to head up to Pikes Peak…wait, can’t go, the highway is only open to mile 11 thanks to the weather. Since the highway is 19 miles to the top, I guess we will wait till tomorrow and try again. Little did we know, but the highway only got opened to mile 15 while we were there, so we never made it to the top of the mountain. It made no sense to spend the money to travel a highway if we couldn’t reach our destination. We did manage a trip to Cripple Creek, and once again, the Sedona made the trip up and down, in and around the curves with no problems. Even though this is a minivan, it handles like a small car. It doesn’t feel big and bulky like you would expect, especially throwing it into some pretty tight curves. I was actually having a good time driving these roads, my passengers would probably disagree with me, but they had a hell of a ride anyway. We were going to head to Arizona for some fun in the sun (me golfing, wifey being bored) but once again, Mother Nature said no, so on to Arkansas.
We found ourselves cruising through Kansas once again. The speed is 65, even on the two lane, so speed was never a problem, boredom was. Here’s a clue, whenever you leave a town before cruising scenic Kansas, make sure you have a full tank of gas. The mileage in the Sedona varied, going west with a head wind with three people, 16 to 18 miles to the gallon. Heading east, two people in the van, little bit of a tail wind, 24 mpg. Our average for the entire trip was just a tad over 22 mpg, which I thought was great considering what we hauled and where we went. This part of the trip was just that, part of a trip. Nothing happened from here out, because travelling back home after a vacation sucks, but your own bed is always a welcome ending.
Let us get into some of the highs of this Kia Sedona S-XL, because there are pretty much no lows to be had. The seating up front for the driver and passenger are very well proportioned, even for us bigger people. I’m 5’ 11” 275 lbs. and fit nicely. The three position heating on both seats will heat your backside quickly, to the point of sauna room temperatures. The lumbar support is really heads and tails above other vehicles. Not only does it do what it’s designed to do, it is also adjustable up and down so you can set it for anybody to sit comfortably. (Hey Kia, just a hint, it would be nice to have this feature on the passenger seat.) The middle row seating, once again doesn’t disappoint. The seats have a lot of travel front to rear, but they also slide left and right. A recline feature and a foot rest that does a nice job of supporting your legs, really come in handy when you take a nap. The third row is a nice fold and stow into the floor, easy to operate and when stowed leaves plenty of space for luggage and other cargo. The seating is more than adequate for hauling around children, though putting an adult into the third row takes a little maneuvering with the seats.
When you decide to back up the van, shifting into reverse triggers a whole bunch of things. The outside rear view mirrors tilt down and the dash screen splits into two, one side is the backup camera, the other side is the four sided cameras. With the collision system and all the bells and gongs that go off when you get close to something, if you hit something with all this going on, maybe you shouldn’t be driving anything! Now remember, the anti-collision is on all the time. You get warnings in the side view mirrors and in the center driver’s screen and on the center console screen. The center console is huge and easy to see, you don’t need glasses to see any of these alerts.
Everything that has to do with anything will come up on the screen, so when you hit the climate control, it comes up and shows you what is what. The climate system is well laid out from side to side and front to back. The entire system can be controlled from the center console, including temp and fan speeds for the rear. The rear right passenger has a control console mounted above the door for controlling the temp, hot or cold in the back. The front passenger can set their own climate, or it can be synced up to the driver’s side to be controlled from driver’s positions. The front and rear defrosters work great, there’s even a button just for the front windshield defogger, separate from all the other switches.
There are features that I never got to use, but I’m sure you would figure them out for trips with the kids, or grandpa and grandma hauling the grandkids around on a vacation. This is a very nice vehicle for people with young kids, or the older generation, just not my cup of tea for us middle aged people. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed driving the Sedona S-XL, it had everything I like in a vehicle and then some, but once again, it’s still a minivan. Reality says the only way to make a minivan cool would be to drop it to the ground, throw a tube chassis underneath and put a pro-mod engine in the front with a massive intake system. All that aside, I wasn’t ashamed of driving it, it was fun while I had it and it suited my needs very well. I would definitely recommend the Kia Sedona S-XL for mom and dad and their 4 plus kids.
Photographs by Chris Chavez Photography