Kia Sedona: A mini-RV

It's been more than 30 years since Chrysler Corp.'s brain trust decided to bolt a box to the brand's compact-sedan platform and call it a minivan. The Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager made history. Now Kia is making history by turning its familiar Sedona minivan into a sort of mini-RV.

Have your driver push a button on the fob and presto, the side door slides open. Climb in, sit down in the roomy, comfortable second-row recliner, and raise the footrest. Put on the headphones, grab the remote and start the movie of your choice on the screen located between the front seatbacks. An hour and a half later, as the credits roll, you've traveled 100 miles.

Who knew, 20 years ago, that Kia would place its passengers in the lap of motoring luxury?

The Sedona has been around since the 2002 model year. A relative of ours found an early version of the Sedona uninspiring. It produced no horror stories, but neither did it endear itself to her.

Kia set out to erase that perspective on its minivan with the 2015 redesign. Powered by a 276-horsepower V-6 with 6-speed shiftable automatic transmission, the Sedona is loaded with standard features — and reached beyond loaded in our Snow White Pearl 2016 SXL test car. The Sedona L has a base price of $26,400. Our top-of-the-line SXL's base price was $39,900. Option packages — including the aforementioned rear-seat entertainment system, $1,095 — raised the bottom line to $44,690.

We drove our minivan from western Connecticut to southern New Hampshire one Sunday in December, and when we returned home, all four in the Sedona were happy. The rear-seat passengers enjoyed the extravagant seating comfort and constant DVD entertainment, while the driver and front-seat passenger took note of the minivan's quiet, comfortable ride and listened to the satellite radio via the standard Infinity surround-sound audio system. The driver was pleased to note the Sedona, rated at 22 mpg on the highway, did a little better than that in the real world. With a child in the car, the Sedona's 5-star, across-the-board safety ratings in government crash tests were reassuring.

We didn't have occasion to transport any building materials or bulky consumer products in our Sedona, but we did check out the car's cargo-carrying capability. The third-row seat folds into a well, but once secure, it rises an inch or so above floor level. Lower trim models are equipped with Slide-N-Stow second-row seats that fold up securely against the front seatback to increase cargo room to 142 cubic feet, but the SXL's First Class Lounge Seating design does not include this feature, so its cargo-carrying capacity is lower.

Minivans may not be "cool" anymore, if they ever were, but they remain more versatile than most SUVs and crossovers. Among the top choices, in addition to the Sedona, are the Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey, and the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Caravan.

Steven Macoy ( is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel, Conn.

2016 Kia Sedona SXL

Price: $44,690

Engine: 3.3-liter V6, 276 horsepower, 248 lb.-ft. torque

Transmission: 6-speed shiftable automatic

Drive: front-wheel

Suspension: MacPherson struts, front; multi-link, rear

Curb weight: 4,656 lb.

Wheels: 19x6.5-in. chrome alloy

Tires: 235/55R19 all-season

Seating capacity: 7

Luggage capacity: 33.9 cu. ft.

Maximum cargo capacity: 142 cu. ft.

Towing capacity: 3,500 lb.

Fuel capacity: 21.1 gal.

Fuel economy: 17 mpg city, 22 highway

Fuel type: regular unleaded gasoline