With a three-day, 950-mile round trip through five countries in prospect, and just two people travelling, your first choice of transport might not necessarily be a large, tall, shoebox-shaped car with five empty seats. So the new Kia Sedona faced a tough task to win us over on the long hike to and from the recent Frankfurt Motor Show, via the Channel Tunnel, France, Belgium and the southern tip of Holland.
By the time we saw Calais receding in the rear view mirror, we’d already decided that the lofty new Sedona leans just a touch too much in the bends to be really comfortable, has an irritating permanent sign on the dash and sliding electric rear doors that are a tad slow to open and close. But as the miles mounted, we began to appreciate more of the Sedona’s attributes. It starts at less than £19,000, and our range-topping Sedona 3 costs £24,295, so it’s stonking value for money It rides with aplomb, and handles competently for the type of vehicle it is. The new 2.2-litre CRDi engine (the only engine on offer in the Sedona, and also to be found in the new Kia Sorento) is a powerhouse with good manners – it’s unobtrusive and refined. The car’s interior is hugely roomy, and the two rear rows of seats move and fold easily. The automatic transmission negotiates it’s set of six ratios smoothly, making its changes elegantly and without fuss or lurch. Steering is reasonably communicative, and comfortably weighted.
There are some neat features too, like the electric adjustment control for the driving seat that mimics the seat shape in miniature, Mercedes-style. Or the reversing camera display that appears on one side of the rearview mirror to guide you backwards. And the little ceiling box that opens to reveal a swivelling mirror, via which you can keep a weather eye on back seat passengers. That irksome sign on the dash? It says ‘Passenger airbag off’, which is not a comforting thing to see when it’s your turn for a break from the wheel, and you’re riding in the front passenger seat as the car hurtles along a German autobahn. It lies. The airbag is not actually switched off until you deliberately choose to do so, to accommodate a rear-facing child seat beside the driver. Then a light illuminates, to confirm the sign’s otherwise confusing message.
If we’re being picky, the front seats do not have quite enough lateral support, and the electronically operated tailgate is a bit on the slow side like the sliding side doors. But the new Sedona’s excellent engine, roominess and decent interior quality with lots of well-planned stowage are winning assets. It is an awful lot of car for the money, and a thoroughly agreeable one to drive.
RIVALS: CHRYSLER GRAND VOYAGER, FORD GALAXY, HYUNDAI i800, RENAULT GRAND ESPACE, SSANGYONG RODIUS
- Engine: 2199cc, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 6-speed automatic
- Max power: 192bhp at 3,800rpm
- Max torque: 322lb ft at 1,800 to 2,500rpm
- Max towing weight: 2,000kg
- Max speed: 122mph
- 0-62mph: 11.9secs
- Combined consumption: 37.7mpg
- CO2 emissions (taxband): 199g/km (J)
- Boot space: 214/1,068/3,423litres
- Insurance group: 14