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2021 Kia Sedona Review

LIKES
  • Comfortable ride
  • Spacious interior
  • Practical and convenient
  • Great warranty
DISLIKES
  • Expensive safety options
  • Not stylish
  • Thin cloth upholstery
  • Dowdy interior
BUYING TIP
  • The base cloth upholstery doesn’t feel up to the task of #FamilyLife. We recommend leather interior—or a different vehicle.
The 2021 Kia Sedona is a van when only a van will do; competitors and even Kia offer better family vehicles.

The 2021 Kia Sedona minivan sits across the lot from more interesting family crossovers and vehicles. (That it shares the same showroom as the Telluride crossover is just not fair, man.)

Still, some families can’t escape the need for comfortable transportation for two or more small children. And for convenience, it’s hard to top a van. 

It earns a 5.7 TCC Rating, which is thanks mostly to its spacious interior.

Kia left the Sedona alone for 2021, which means like last year, it’s available in L, LX, EX, and SX trim levels for at least $29,000 all the way to more than $42,000. 

The Sedona’s boxy body covers a cavernous interior that seats up to eight with plenty of cubbies for storage and devices. 

Competitors such as the Honda Odyssey and Chrysler Pacifica look better, but the Sedona gets the basics right. Every van is equipped with at least a 7.0-inch touchscreen with smartphone software, Bluetooth connectivity, and good space. 
We prefer top trims like the EX and SX not only for their leather upholstery, but also because those are the only Sedonas that get active safety features such as automatic emergency braking (optional on EX, and standard on SX).

Every van is powered by a 3.3-liter V-6 that makes 276 horsepower and drives the front wheels only via an 8-speed automatic transmission. Power isn’t the Kia van’s calling card, but it rides well and steers easily and returns about 21 mpg combined, according to the EPA. 

Federal testers gave it mostly top marks for crash safety, and the IIHS had mostly good things to say. 

Although the van starts for less than some competitors, the Sedona EX is the trim we’d opt for—but only after adding nearly $5,000 in options to include lifesaving safety tech. That puts our recommended van at about $40,000, including destination, and right in the gun sights of better vans from Honda and Chrysler. Not to mention that Telluride, too.

Styling
The 2021 Kia Sedona looks like the box it came in.

While hardly a runway standout, the 2021 Sedona goes about its business without looking too frumpy. Other vans cut a more intriguing shape, however, and that’s how we land at a 4 for styling with a point held back for its exterior. 

The Sedona hasn’t changed much in the last few years and it shows. Aside from its slightly pinched grille, Kia’s van doesn’t much look like a Kia at all. 

Inside, the Sedona has a straightforward dash with three tiers of buttons and knobs. There’s not much to look at aside from a two-tone approach in some trims that’s hit or miss. 

Performance
Performance isn’t the 2021 Sedona’s first priority.

The 2021 Sedona straps a V-6 to an automatic 8-speed transmission and front-wheel drive. It’s hardly thrilling, but it is predictable and that’s the point. It’s a 5 for performance. 

Kia’s 3.3-liter V-6 makes 276 hp that can get up to highway speeds without much of a hiccup. When properly equipped, the Sedona can tow up to 3,500 pounds, which is sufficient for a small trailer or toys. 

Handling isn’t the Sedona’s best attribute, but it’s adequate for pencil-straight interstates. The ride is better, regardless of wheel choice. 

Comfort & Quality
There’s no distance we couldn’t comfortably travel in a well-equipped 2021 Sedona.

Vans like the 2021 Sedona excel at hauling people comfortably. Although the Sedona lacks features that competitors offer, it’s a 9 on our scale because it’s comfortable in nearly any place with a seatbelt and it’s capacious. Vans are just the best, aren’t they?

By the numbers, the Sedona stretches more than 120 inches between the wheels and 201 inches from bumper to bumper. Rows one and two get more than 40 inches of leg room for riders, and row three measures nearly 35 inches. Every position is comfortable, and even three medium-size adults can fit across the benches. 

With the seats down, the Sedona fits up to 142 cubic feet of cargo. There’s 78.4 cubes and 33.9 cubes when rows two and three are folded up, respectively, but the Kia lacks seats that can fold into the floor like Chrysler’s Pacifica. 
We prefer the leather upholstery in Sedona EX and SX models, but mostly because the base cloth is unconvincing and cheap-feeling. 

Safety
The Sedona has good safety scores, but active safety features are reserved for top trims.

What good things safety officials have to say about the 2021 Kia Sedona are spoiled by costly safety upgrades that should be standard anyway. 

The Sedona gets an average safety score here after we add one point for a five-star federal scorecard but deduct one for expensive automatic emergency braking. It’s a 5. 

The IIHS has mostly good things to say, too. The insurance industry-funded agency gave the Sedona top “Good” scores in most of its crash tests, but noted that passenger-side small overlap protection is only “Acceptable.” The agency also noted the Sedona’s headlight performance was “Poor.”
Better news: When equipped, the Sedona’s automatic emergency braking system earned a top “Superior” score at avoiding forward crashes with another car at 12 and 25 mph. Active safety features are available on EX and are standard on SX. 

Features
Kia wraps nearly everything we could ask for in the 2021 Sedona. Emphasis on nearly.

If there’s a better road-trip vehicle than a minivan, we haven’t found it. The 2021 Sedona nails the basics like a big touchscreen and plenty of space, but falls down in the details by not offering automatic emergency braking on all models. It gets two points above average for its touchscreen and warranty, but stops there. It’s a 7. 

The 2021 Sedona is available in L, LX, EX, and SX trim levels for about $29,000 to start all the way up to close to $43,000. 

Base vans make do with a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, cloth upholstery, 17-inch wheels, Bluetooth, and USB charging ports. 
We’d skip past the LX trim, which adds power doors and seats, to the Sedona EX that costs about $35,000 to start. For that much, Kia adds bigger wheels, leather upholstery, heated seats up front, more USB chargers, and more options. Included among those options are active safety features (that should be standard on all vans), a power liftgate, moonroof, and three-zone climate control. That’s the van we’d pick and it’s close to $40,000. 

The top Sedona SX adds fancy-pants features like premium audio, cooled seats, a heated steering wheel and a bigger 8.0-inch touchscreen—but most importantly, active safety features. To load up a Sedona with everything, including lifesaving tech, is more than $42,000, which is well within the wheelhouse of more efficient or more stylish competitors. 

One thing the competition can’t touch: Kia makes a 5-year/60,000-mile warranty standard on all vans. 

Fuel Economy
The 2021 Sedona gets average fuel-economy scores.

The 2021 Kia Sedona’s fuel-economy tale is short and sweet. 

Federal regulators rate the van at 18 mpg city, 24 highway, 21 combined. That’s a 4 on our scale. 

Among vans, that’s up to speed—relatively speaking. The Honda Odyssey and Chrysler Pacifica are tops in our books and rate around 22 mpg combined. The Pacifica’s plug-in hybrid version has no equal among minivans for now, it’s the most efficient—and also the most expensive.

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