Like a fine wine, the Kia Sedona minivan has improved with age and we are enjoying our second glass. Fifteen years ago, no one could have imagined the fledgling Korean automaker would be building affordable and fun-to-drive vehicles able to compete with the offerings from Toyota and Honda. But Kia has worked hard to improve its product quality while continuing to undercut the pricing of the top import brandsa strategy that has paid off with record sales. The 2007 Kia Sedona is a great example of just how far the company has come in just the last six years.
The previous-generation Sedona minivan lost points with us for its mediocre acceleration, sloppy handling, dismal fuel economy and porky curb weight. Fit and finish and overall quality were only so-so. The second-generation van, introduced last year, went under the knife and came out a swan. Wheelbase length was extended 8 inches and curb weight was reduced by approximately 400 pounds thanks to a switch to an all-aluminum V6 engine, a lighter transmission and an independent multilink rear suspension.
For 2007, Kia has introduced a new short-wheelbase model. It's 12.6 inches shorter than the regular version and has a slightly tighter turning radius. It's also less expensive, though this has been achieved by cutting some standard and optional features, most notably the fold-flat third-row seat. You still get a third row, but its 50/50 halves must be physically removed from the vehicle when more cargo space is needed. For this reason, smaller families might prefer the more user-friendly Mazda 5. To its credit, the SWB Sedona still comes standard with important safety features like stability control and side curtain airbags.
Overall, we're quite impressed with the 2007 Kia Sedona, particularly the long-wheelbase model. It doesn't quite have the polish or refined road manners as our favorite van in this segment, the Honda Odyssey, nor can it match the Toyota Sienna in terms of features. But factor in its significant price and warranty advantages and you're looking at one very compelling minivan.