• Model: Kia Sedona LX
• Exterior color: Clear White
• Interior color: Grey
• Engine: 3.5 liter, V-6
• Horsepower: 269
• Transmission: six-speed automatic
• Fuel economy: 24 mpg highway, 17 mpg city
• Dealer: Pye Kia in Dalton, Ga.
• Price (as tested): $29,148
The 2014 Kia Sedona is the rarest of vehicles, one that disappeared and then returned to its fleet after a one-year hiatus.
Perhaps realizing that the mini-van is still a viable design for American families, Kia reintroduced the seven-passenger vehicle for 2014. There was no 2013 model.
Kia's value-packed Sorento midsize SUV, which also seats seven, commands much of the family traffic at the brand's dealerships, but the Sedona minivan deserves a look as well from frugal buyers with big space needs.
Rather that wedge large families and carpoolers into smaller, SUV dimensions, the minivan model allows passengers to spread out. The second-row captain's seats in the Sedona, for example, look as if they would fit on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. And the third-row seating is plenty big for full-grown adults.
STYLING AND FEATURES
Our Clear White test vehicle this week, outfitted in midrange LX trim, comes from Pye Kia in nearby, Dalton, Ga., and is a good example of the value possible in this Kia model.
The exterior, while typically boxy to increase interior volume, includes a new grille design and headlamp treatment. Our test Sedona also has dual electric sliding rear doors controlled by a button on the key fob and/or a switch over the dashboard. The automatic doors are part of a $1,900 option package that also includes snazzy, 17-inch alloy wheels and a rear-view camera.
The second-row captain's chairs are removable, or they can flip forward when you just need a smidgen more room. With the third-row seat folded down as well, the Sedona becomes a cavernous cargo van. The third-row seats also split 60-40, so there is a virtually endless combination of seat setups.
Safety is typically high on the list of "musts" for minivan buyers, and the Sedona deploys a full array of defenses including six air-bags, active front headrests, reinforced steel doors and front seat-belt pretensioners, a technology once only seen on luxury brands.
Cargo cubbies are abundant and include a center console designed to be wide enough to cradle an iPad, as tablet computers increasingly become standard issue on family road trips.
Our test drive along Walnut Avenue in Dalton was typical of the kind of suburban jaunt that is the bread and butter of minivans like the Sedona.
Seating position is suitably high and visibility is terrific -- you forget how much window volume is consumed by the swoopy architecture of some of today's cars and trucks. Changing lanes and negotiating parking lots is a snap with this much glass.
The Sedona's 269-horsepower V-6 is a holdover from the 2012 model, yet it supplies plenty of power. Mated to a six-speed, automatic transmission, the engine is sufficient for merging and runs effortlessly at highway speeds. The Sportmatic transmission allows you to switch to clutch-free manual shifting for mountain roads or simply for a fun change of pace. Towing capacity is 3,500 pounds.
The Sedona is a practical and safe family hauler, and includes Kia's impressive 10-year or 100,000-miles powertrain warranty, a nice insurance policy for those planning to keep their vehicle awhile.
For those looking for a bit more luxury, the Sedona also comes in EX trim with such available options as navigation, leather seating surfaces, heated front seats and rain-sensing wipers.
Our well-equipped LX test vehicle with power side doors stickers for $29,148, a modest price for seven-passenger comfort and convenience.
Contact Mark Kennedy at email@example.com or 423-757-6645. Follow him on Twitter @TFPCOLUMNIST. Subscribe to his Facebook updates at www.facebook.com/mkennedycolumnist.