It’s not exactly a minivan, but the 2015 Kia Sedona in our long-term test fleet has design elements that are calculated to reinforce the idea that it’s not about your regular transport vehicle. Of course, it has sliding side doors and the usual complement to minivan accessories, like 3-row seats with room for eight, large cup holders, and a rear seat that folds into the floor.
But the exterior isn’t quite the box on wheels we’ve come to expect from the minivan category. The nose of the vehicle is a bit more pronounced, with Kia’s trademark Tiger-snout grille, a low waistline and an aggressively wide stance. There are also sleek glossy works that give the vehicle an air of sophistication and elegance, two attributes that are not usually associated with family carriers of this ilk.
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Perhaps the biggest change is best seen behind the wheel. The quintessential design feature of the van is open space and before consoles became mainstream, the ability to switch to the second row without having to get out of the vehicle.
The new Sedona takes a different approach, making the front cabin look more like a crossover SUV. The hood is high, with a traditional dashboard that would look great in a luxury car. The controls are simple and easy to use, none of that haptic nonsense that seems to be all the rage these days. And the console itself is fixed, wide, and divides the first row into separate areas for the driver and passengers. Likewise, a traditional shifter with a normal PRNDL shift sequence is mounted on the console.
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This change in the cockpit configuration works. From the front seat forward, you might as well drive a Sorento or a full-size crossover SUV. The seating position is upright with great visibility and a useful console with storage, USB ports and other connections within easy reach. You might be sacrificing a little openness, but there’s no shortage of storage. In fact, the console has a bin that’s deep enough in the middle to handle all kinds of details.
Behind the first row, however, the look and function is purely minivan, from the ease of getting in and out of the second row, to the fact that children won’t ring neighboring vehicles when they open the doors. Minivans in general have long believed to be interchangeable in terms of function and design. Kia deserves kudos for taking a different approach and injecting new thinking into the 2015 Sedona.
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