by Michael Butler
Some think that the motoring battlefield is reserved for sports cars, trying to outrun each other on the Nurburgring for prestige and bragging rights. But little do they know that the minivan market is just as contested, and to most, more relevant than six-figure supercars. The Kia Sedona is a bit of a dark horse in the land of minivans and makes for an interesting alternative to industry sweethearts such as the Chrysler Voyager and Honda Odyssey. For 2020 the Sedona remains relatively unchanged and holds on to its 3.3-liter V6 engine, eight-speed transmission, and low asking price. The Sedona isn't particularly great at anything, but it's good enough at everything, and for the price, it is very hard to ignore, especially in EX trim. The 2020 Sedona starts with an MSRP of $27,400 and is well worth looking at if you're keen on driving seven to eight people around.
The Kia Sedona comes hot off of a mild makeover from the previous model year and carries over unchanged. What this means is you get the relatively fresh-looking front and rear bumper design from 2019, as well as a revised grille, and, more importantly, an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Kia has adopted an aggressive pricing strategy, with the base model starting at only $27,400, which undercuts the Honda Odyssey by a significant $3,290, and the Toyota Sienna by a massive $4,165. After the base model, you get the LX, which starts at $30,200, followed by the EX, which will set you back $33,500. At the top of the range, you get the SX, which takes a big leap in pricing with an MSRP of $41,300. Still, the Sedona in its fanciest trim will cost you over $8,000 less than the Sienna, and over $6,000 less than the Odyssey when fully-specced. Fully kitted, the Sedona SX will cost you closer to $44,000. The above-mentioned prices do not include a destination fee of $1,045, and excludes taxes, licensing and registration.
See trim levels and configurations:
Instead of telling you how bad the Sedona is at driving around a racetrack, we should rather discuss its strong points, and there are more than you'd think: low-speed bumps are soaked up with a smile, and maneuvering this big ship through tight spaces such as mall parking lots and narrow city streets is easier than you'd think, thanks to a beautifully weighted steering feel and relatively good turning radius. Fast steering inputs result in a slightly delayed and spongy response, but the nose of the Sedona obediently follows. At highway cruising speed, the big Korean is a pleasure to drive, and its soft-sprung suspension and insulated cabin give you the feeling that you're hovering above the road - perfect, then, for long family road trips. While the Odyssey and Pacifica give some semblance of pleasure to whoever's driving, the Sedona is a little more laid back.
The Kia Sedona might not be the most popular name in the world of minivans, but it is slowly gaining followers, thanks to its low asking price, a good list of standard features, and a solid safety and reliability track record. The 2020 model sees no changes but comes hot off of a 2019 feature and design reshuffle, which added a new eight-speed automatic transmission in place of the old six-speed unit. From the outside, the Sedona adopts a more traditional minivan profile; we think it looks quite good, especially in Panthera Metal. Under the skin and inside the cabin, the Sedona adopts a "jack of all trades, master of none" approach, offering a class-average interior and cargo space, but its list of standard entertainment and safety features in the mid-range impressed us. In terms of driving, the Sedona does exactly what is expected of a minivan: there's some semblance of acceleration, but the whole experience feels pleasantly disconnected and insulated from the outside world. For the money, the Sedona offers a very attractive package, despite not being particularly exceptional at anything.
You can have your Sedona with a relatively bare-bones setup, or you can go all-out and get yourself a soccer mom starship with second-row captain's chairs, a rear-seat entertainment system, and a premium sound system - it all depends on what you're looking for. To us, the clear winner has to be the EX, which packs in the features for a price increase of $6,100 over the base model. Going up to the SX will cost you $7,800 more. So for a total asking price of $33,500, the EX offers smart sliding rear doors, heated front seats, rear sunshades, leather seat trim, and most importantly, adds forward and reverse park distance warning, blind-spot monitoring as well as rear cross-traffic control and vehicle stability management. Toe to toe, the Sedona EX offers a stunning amount of value when compared to its competitors.
The Honda Odyssey is a household name in the minivan market, and has been a trusted carriage for budding soccer stars and spotted teenagers for a quarter of a century. That sounds quite intimidating, and it should be, as the Odyssey is close to the top of the minivan pile. The front wheels of the Odyssey rotate with the help of a 3.5-liter V6 engine, which pushes out a healthy 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque, and it will return a fuel economy figure of 19/28/22 mpg city/highway/combined. Out on the road, the Odyssey feels like a more agile car and is eager to follow quick steering inputs, despite feeling unavoidably heavy and spongy. Inside, the Odyssey offers similar space for passengers but dominates in the trunk and overall cargo category. The 2020 Odyssey is the proud title holder of a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS, which means it's safer than the Sedona by a good margin. The Odyssey is quite a bit more expensive, so you'll have to cough up over $3,000 more to get inside a base model. We think it's worth the price; the Odyssey is just too good to be ignored.
The 2020 Toyota Sienna carries over from 2019 unchanged, which means you get a 3.5-liter V6 engine sending 296 hp and 263 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels, or all four wheels, via an eight-speed automatic transmission. The Sienna will manage 19/36/21 mpg city/highway/combined. Out on the road, the Sienna feels supple and manages low-speed bumps well, but can get tricky to navigate in tight spots, which can require hand-to-hand turning. Inside the cabin, a few squeaks and rattles had us wondering about the Sienna's overall build quality, but this Japanese minivan has a good track record with reliability. Inside, you get a busier dashboard and dash-mounted shift knob, which feels more minivan than car, and the standard infotainment system isn't as great as that of the Sedona. Safety-wise, both cars are comparable, and the Kia beats the Sienna in terms of warranty cover and price. We think the Sedona offers more value for money and would be our first choice.
The most popular competitors of 2020 Kia Sedona: