The Kia Sedona has been spending time on the sidelines while updated versions of the Honda Odyssey and the Chrysler Pacifica have dominated minivan headlines the past few years. The Odyssey has impressed with its reinvigorated chassis and new features, while the sleek, well-appointed Pacifica has added a first ever plug-in hybrid version. With this mid-cycle refresh, Kia hopes to remind everybody that the attractive Sedona still exists and offers a well-rounded package.
On the exterior, Kia wanted the Sedona to align with newer designs in its lineup such as the freshly updated Forte compact. The minivan’s front fascia receives minor alterations with exaggerated lines, edgier cuts, and a pronounced chin, while the rear gets tweaked with new chrome trim pieces and a restyled bumper. Both the front and rear headlights have been redesigned, with LED headlamps standard on the top two of six trim levels, SX and SXL. The rear side-door handles on the midrange EX trim and above now have a button to actuate the sliding doors, and the 17-, 18-, and 19-inch wheels all get makeovers.
The interior has also been updated with more tech, more convenience features, and a fresh look. The dashboard has been refined with minor nips and tucks, the instrument cluster has restyled graphics, and a new wireless-device charger is available for the center console. An electronic parking brake is standard on SX and SXL models. Seating arrangements remain the same, with either seven- or eight-passenger setups. A two-seat second row offers reclining captain’s chairs with footrests, while the three-seat second row uses Kia’s Slide-N-Stow setup—the seat cushions rotate vertically as the bench slides forward, enabling them to move farther forward out of the way—and the available 60/40 split-folding third row continues to be retractable into the cargo floor.
Entertainment was a big priority for the Sedona refresh. Kia added an optional rear USB port that can be accessed from the third row or the cargo area and swapped the optional Infinity audio kit for a Harman/Kardon system. The Sedona already had Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity in front. Now, catching up to the modern age, the Sedona ditches the single overhead rear entertainment screen for two 10.1-inch touchscreens, one mounted on the back of each of the front headrests. Using an upgraded dual-core processor, the entertainment system offers smartphone mirroring and wireless Bluetooth headphone connectivity so rear-seat passengers can stream video through the phone’s data plan.
On the safety front, the Sedona was already fairly well equipped. The 2018 model currently offers forward-collision warning, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, and automated emergency braking. For 2019, Kia is adding a driver attention feature that, when the system deems the driver needs it, will blink and sound alerts to suggest taking a break from the road.
Whereas the Odyssey and Pacifica adopted state-of-the-art powertrain components such as a 10-speed automatic transmission or a hybrid version, Kia has only partly updated what’s under the Sedona’s hood. Gone is the previous six-speed automatic transmission in favor of a new eight-speed unit, yet power still comes from the same 276-hp 3.3-liter V-6 engine.
Kia has kept quiet on pricing and availability, but we should learn more about that before sales commence, likely later this year.