Kia’s “Grand Utility Vehicle” boasts the sort of seats you’d expect when flying first class.
Kia finally showed off the fourth-generation Sedona—known as the Carnival in other markets—in full earlier this week. While we already had brief looks at the minivan before, this is a more comprehensive view, and it shows a more luxurious, stylish approach to the segment.
The exterior styling is bolder than the current model, pulling influence from Kia’s more adventurous modern SUVs. It’s most clear in the big bluff nose, with serious Seltos hints. Kia has massaged the proportions, shortening the front overhang, lengthening the rear, and moving the base of the A-pillars rearward. The result is a more dynamic stance. A floating roof visually lengthens the Sedona, as does an actual stretch to a total length of around 203 inches. The checkered metal-effect C-pillar breaks up all the horizontal lines nicely. Meanwhile, the full-width taillight design has a technical, angular design for its interior elements. Wheel sizes range from 17 to 19 inches.
Overall, it’s a smart look, managing to stand out in a segment that will be almost completely transformed over the next few months.
Of course, more important than a minivan’s looks is its ability to swallow people and their things. Kia is promising 102.5 cubic feet of storage space behind the front row, and 22.1 cubic feet with a full three-row setup. The team has also carved over an inch out of the trunk lift-over height, dropping it to a hair over 25 inches. Some markets will even get an additional row, bringing the possible head count to 11.
That’s fine and all, but we’re more interested in the “Premium Relaxation Seat” in the second row. With a single button press this drops the seats and raises a leg rest, offering the sort of reclined seating you’d expect flying business class over the Atlantic. Yes please.
In modern Kia fashion, the new-age Sedona will feature a slew of convenience and safety tech. Two 12.3-inch screens sit up front: one for the instrument panel, and another in the middle of the dash. They both sit under a single piece of glass, however. Haptic controls dot the center console for redundant climate control. Depending on the market, both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are available wirelessly—and two mobile devices can connect simultaneously. The available Kia Live system can provide live traffic and weather conditions, as well as nearby parking information. It also allows owners to send their upcoming navigation route to the car before starting off.
Like others in its class, the Sedona offers an available intercom and rear-seat camera system. The two are combined in the Rear Passenger View & Talk feature, providing a live feed to the central infotainment screen and piping front-row voices through to the rear speakers. If drivers are feeling particularly brave, they can also allow second row voice commands for the infotainment.
A whole gaggle of safety-related acronyms are available, depending on market and trim. Automated emergency braking, lane-keep assist, blind-spot collision avoidance, driver attention warning, auto high beams, and smart cruise control are all pretty standard in the market nowadays. In addition, Kia piles on Intelligent Speed Limit Assist (ISLA), Navigation-based Smart Cruise Control (NSCC), Lane Following Assist (LFA), Surround View Monitor (SVM), and Safe Exit Assist (SEA). The latter stops the power-sliding doors from opening if the car detects a car approaching from behind. Highway Driving Assist (HDA) is also available, a Level 2 semi-automated driving assist that has shown up on other new Hyundai/Kia/Genesis products.
Powering the Sedona are three engines: a 2.2-liter diesel and two 3.5-liter gas V6s. We don’t expect Kia to offer the diesel in North America, which leaves the multi-point fuel injection and direct-injection V6s as potential motivators. The MPI engine produces 268 hp and 245 lb-ft; the GDI, 290 hp and 262 lb-ft. Both come hooked up to an eight-speed auto, sending power exclusively to the front wheels. No, it won’t be following the Chrysler
Pacifica and Toyota
Sienna in offering four-corner traction.
Kia is also promising an improvement in NVH across the board in the Sedona, thanks to increased sound-deadening materials, a new independent rear suspension, and even liquid-filled rubber bushes.
The model shown here is the global debut Carnival; it’s now available for sale in its home market. Kia will show off other specs, including the North American model, soon.