Clearly, the minivan is tremendously useful and over its 20-odd years of existence, great strides have been made. Today’s minivan can be equipped with a powerful V6 engine, front- or all-wheel drive, dual sliding doors that can be opened and closed with a simple button, second- and third-row seats that hide in the floor, luxury comparable to a Lexus, respectable towing and cargo hauling capabilities, and exceptional safety rankings buoyed by a plethora of airbags. True, styling is by and large still dull, but in terms of practicality and versatility, the minivan reigns supreme, and among the segment’s best values is the Kia Sedona, a well-backed model that’s been redesigned for 2006.
Admirable is one way to describe the previous Kia Sedona, with its five-star crash test rating and low entry-level price. But at roughly 4,800 pounds, it was a porker that made its 3.5-liter, 195-horsepower V6 work mighty hard. For 2006, the seven-passenger Sedona has shed about 400 pounds and gained dozens of ponies. The 3.5-liter six has been replaced by a 24-valve, aluminum 3.8-liter V6 with dual overhead cams pushing 244 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 253 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,500 rpm. Power is directed to the front wheels by a five-speed automatic transmission with a manual mode, and last year’s front disc/rear drum brake setup was dropped to make room for a four-wheel antilock disc system working in conjunction with electronic brake-force distribution and electronic brake assistance. Standard stability and traction control systems work with rack-and-pinion steering to maintain control on the road, an effort supported by stabilizer bars and the MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension. The 3,500-lb. tow capacity and excellent crash test scores have been carried over from 2005, though the 2006 Sedona is larger in terms of cargo and passenger capacity.
Shoppers familiar with Kia’s minivan will recognize the LX and EX trims available for 2006. The base LX, starting at $23,665 including a $670 destination charge, is delivered with standard 16-inch steel wheels and 225/70 tires, dual sliding doors, rear climate controls, a CD player, a tilt steering wheel with cruise control, 13 cupholders, and six airbags – two front, two front-side, and two side-curtains. If that sounds kinda weak, don’t worry because there’s more, like a driver’s seat with lumbar support and manual height adjustment; removable second-row bucket seats that slide, recline, and fold; a split third-row bench that folds into the deep cargo hold with the pull of a strap; keyless entry; and stability and traction control systems. All of that, plus Kia’s 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and five-year/60,000-mile basic coverage. For a little extra cash, buyers can load their 2006 Kia Sedona LX with a roof rack, a tow hitch, and a rear DVD entertainment system. Yet, even with that equipment, some folks may desire the $26,265 EX model, with its standard 17-inch alloy wheels, chrome exterior accents, fog lights, roof rack, heated mirrors, MP3 player, leather steering wheel and shift knob trim, front power seats, woodgrain trim, and rear cargo net. For the ultimate Sedona, the EX can be decked out with power sliding doors and a power tailgate, leather seats, power pedals, a power sunroof, a rear parking aid, a 605-watt Infinity surround sound system, and more.
With a sticker price of $24,865, our 2006 Kia Sedona LX arrived in stock form except for a $1,200 rear entertainment system. The van proved to be invaluable as a support vehicle during a sport compact comparison test at Willow Springs Raceway, shuttling our editors and video crew and all of their gear all day under the blistering desert sun. The remainder of the Sedona’s time with us was spent as a daily commuter and transportation for a growing family’s weekend trip to Palm Springs.