2016 Kia Sedona SX-Limited Review

By Arison Knapp on November 16, 2015


2016 Kia Sedona SX-Limited Review

by Arison Knapp2016_kia_sedona_front

The progressive styling of the 2016 Kia Sedona five-door minivan goes hand-in-hand with engineering in the new age powertrain down to the quality materials in-cabin. Traditionally, minivans have been developed to be buttery-smooth catering to passengers; bland and boring behind the wheel. Recently automakers have been re-imagining what these designs need, they need spirit. Last years design overhaul into a new generation enabled Kia to build the latest frame reinforcing techniques.  Sedona’s electronic gripping systems and a stimulating engine make a refined ride.

The Crossover-esque front end styling of the Sedona takes the large minivan segment into a new sporty lavish direction. Kia’s packaging of models, electronic active safety and honest comfort creates a dynamic value against equals from Chrysler, Honda and Toyota which is why I chose this ride.

This second year of the Sedona’s third generation receives more standards. With a highly-competitive base MSRP of $26,400 Kia offers seven or eight optional seats for their front-wheel drive minivan again this year in five models. Starting with their base L, LX, upper class EX, SX and the fully-equipped SX-Limited are all available to tour and drive at your local Kia dealer now. Most notable update is the grime-resistant Yes Essentials upholstery to the lower line models. Sedona’s EX line gets standard heated front seats and SX and SX-L models now get standard seating for eight.

Ride & Drive

At the surface the Sedona uses Kia’s ISO-Structure steel unibody frame incorporating thoughtful reinforcing. Kia states they have a 36 percent stiffer foundation than any competitor. Building rigidity in allows Kia to have a more hospitable rolling living room. These are the key advancements in Kia’s vehicles right now besides their futuristic looking designs.


There is no question that this chassis is a massive improvement. Taking an hour test drive from Seattle up the mountains East of my city I could feel instantly how fit the body was at high speed switching lanes and overtaking. Pressing the throttle hard at highway speeds over roughed up bridge expansion joints of Highway 99 and the floating bridge of Interstate 90, the suspension had just enough float and grip with the perfect amount of travel and play for a engaged calming ride.


Driving across potholes at low speed was gentle with quick recovery from the shake. Climbing over curbs while parking was pleasant as well with large tire sidewalls. From the little time I had with the Sedona I noticed how well the four-corner independent suspension system functioned. Sedonas have MacPherson’s upfront and a multi-link setup in the rear. Horrible city streets were conquered with comfort. The configuration had me as confident behind the wheel.


Driving all models is a naturally aspirated 3.3-liter six-cylinder GDI gasoline engine in a V formation mounted transversely under the front hood. Kia equips their GDI engine with modern tech like direct injection and variable valve timing. Around 5,000 RPM you’ll feel all the 248 lb-ft of torque and 276 horses. It tows up to 3,500 lbs so bring all the toys. My only critique driving is it’s mild torque steer.

In the upscale models, pilots will find selectable Driving Modes to tailor their feel for the day. Handling all of the shifts is a Sportronic automatic transmission holding six gears with a typical Sport setting manual shifting position which made manual shifts almost on-demand. It felt unrestricted and compliant when demanding gear changes with the shift lever. Using a 21.1 gallon fuel tank the Sedona will take its passengers up to 506 miles on the highway. Over a 500 mile range is great however it’s MPG doesn’t top the list with 18 city, 24 highway.


Crash safety ratings are off the charts good. This Kia is fully recommended by everyone. The Sedona’s large 201.4 inch length and 4,414 lb curb weight are bold figures for safety just in size. NHTSA testing reports the Sedona has life saving properties with a five-star overall score. IIHS also has given top credentials to Kia with their “Top Safety Pick” for 2015 showing G for Good in each crash category.


The Sedona’s long list of standard electronic safety work well together. Standards include Stability control, Traction control, four-wheel disc ABS with electronic distribution and brake assist, Rollover mitigation, Cornering Brake control and Tire Pressure Monitoring. The Cornering Brake control stood out entering swooping highway onramps where I needed to build speed accelerating through a corner. New for this year standard for all models is a rearview backup camera.


Available on the upper lines are the high-tech safety options. Radar-based adaptive Smart Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning, Blind Spot Detection, advanced Vehicle Stability Management, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Backup Warning, Parking Assist and the 360 degree Surround View Monitor with cameras. My favorite option was the lighting. It’s crisp illumination features adaptive HID headlights with High Beam Assist. Jewel-type LED daytime running lights, fog lights and a pretty ensemble of LEDs tail lamps are delightful.

In-Cabin and Infotainment

The cabin has enhanced sound deadening via padding around the wheel housing and engine bay plus double-sealed side sliding doors that block out noise. This silent treatment makes for a great interior for conversations with kids or clients.


Kia’s interior for the base model L comes standard with the new Yes Essentials Tricot cloth seating, seating for seven, manual front seats, folding and sliding second row, 60/40 split third row, all power accessories, two USB charging ports, a 115-volt outlet and a 4.3 inch infotainment touchscreen. Handling connections to the infotainment are the Bluetooth, AUX or a USB. Midline models receive a graduating list of standards in opulence and tech however our SX-L top range model was assembled with all the extra packages.


If the ride and drive wasn’t enough luxury and comfort for you then upgrade your model for more entertainment and warming appointments. The most noticeable part of the SX-L is the two-tone Nappa Leather providing a soft to touch feel on top of those really wide and long front seats. They are 8-way power for both and offer great support. The second row can be equipped with “First Class” seating. It features reclining and fold out leg rests which work perfect if the second row is fully slid back to the third row. Nobody likes sitting third row however headspace was a plenty.


Wrapping together the interior are the two digital screens below the most important-to-watch windscreen. The instrument cluster on the SX-L is equipped with brilliantly white backlit gauges and resting in between is a 3.5 inch OLED display reporting back important information. Looking to the right of the cluster is now a large 8-inch touchscreen powered by their UVO infotainment services. UVO connected with little effort each time I drove and although I don’t spend enough time stuck in traffic to actually utilize the apps and lifestyle of UVO I could see the services are actually quite nice when with a party or family making plans on the side of the road or in the driveway.

Why This Ride?

  • Competitive packaging of model lines
  • Electronic Active Safety
  • Honest comfort and smooth ride
  • GDI V6 engine
  • Stylish SX-L interior
  • 2nd Row First class seating
Arison’s story began in rapidly evolving Seattle, Washington in the 1980’s. From a young age he gained his automotive experience working in the family business; our nation’s first and oldest personal automotive consulting and buyer’s service, AutoAdvisor Inc. Throughout working as a research car consultant he built a foundation of learning people and how cars can fit with their lives. That is his strong suit, the human to car interface. Over the last decade he harnessed his voice contributing to small print and national online news outlets reviewing cars. Today, his automotive passion has sprung into the love of all things involving motion from shoes to drones. He is an active member of the Motor Press Guild and is ready to share his expertise with WhyThisRide.