Motoring: A minivan that's not just for mommies
In North America, it was the Chrysler minivan that first hit the market, while almost simultaneously in Europe the Renault Espace had gone on sale. Both vans became huge successes in their own markets.
Nearly 30 years later, both companies are still making minivans. While many other companies have abandoned their minivans and are now focusing on crossover utility vehicles, there is another company is picking up the void in the market.
Kia, a relative newcomer in the Canadian market, has been working on pretty much everything. They have coupes, sedans, hatchbacks, SUVs and CUVs. They also have a minivan. It's called the Sedona and it is not exactly new (the second generation model has been with us since 2006), but for 2011 it has some minor improvements.
The changes might only be reserved to some cosmetic bits, but the end result is it looks better than ever.
The same goes for the interior. Over the years, some things have changed in this minivan's interior, but all the changes are for the better. For instance, the interior quality and fit and finish is superb; you won't find much to complain about in here.
There is also lots of space. While it can seat seven people, six would be more comfortable. I also like the fact that it has a very deep and spacious trunk, even if the last row of seats is used. Is this the most spacious minivan? Probably not, but I think it is the right size for most families.
In the driver's area, all the controls are within easy reach, and it has some buttons on the steering wheel to operate the cruise control and the stereo. However, the lack of seek buttons on the steering wheel is an oversight.
Apart from that little niggle, I like this interior. I also like the driving position which gives you a good view out all sides, and I also like the fact it has a "mommy mirror" to keep an eye on backseat passengers.
I also like the fact it has adjustable pedals, so even if you're short, you can reach the pedals.
The thing I most liked about the Sedona has to be its powertrain. It has a silky smooth 3.5-litre, V6 engine, sporting four valves per cylinder. It produces a very healthy 271 hp and 248 lb/ft of torque. Mated to an equally excellent sixspeed automatic gearbox, this is actually a very quick minivan. I love how responsive the engine and transmission are, because the moment you lean on the throttle, it just takes off. Couple that with a capable front-wheel drive chassis and good steering, and this minivan is almost as much fun to drive as some coupes. The Sedona is so nice to drive, it can even lure a single guy... maybe.
If you're in the market for a new minivan, you owe it to yourself to go drive the Sedona. It might not be the biggest, or the most powerful, but very few minivans will offer more features (as options, you can spec it with power rear doors, power lift-gate, reversing camera, navigation system and rear DVD entertainment system).
Does the news get any better? Yes it does, because current American minivans are crap, Japanese offerings are priced well north of $30,000. The Sedona is yours from $27,995. Not much for what I consider the best minivan on the current market.