BY ANDY ENRIGHT
If you're in the market for a used MPV, you're probably a reluctant purchaser. This is a necessity buy rather than something that's going to stir your blood. As such, surely it makes sense to minimise your expenditure and go for the value option. At least that's what Kia hopes is the case with its Sedona seven-seat MPV model. Why not take one step further and let somebody else swallow that initial hit of depreciation? A used Sedona lessens the pain of having to wave goodbye to 2+2 sports coupes. If your better half is understanding, maybe that's where the saving you make on a used Sedona could go. Who says you can't have your cake and eat it too?
Models Covered: (5 dr MPV 2.5 petrol, 2.9 diesel [S, SX, GSX, Executive])
The Kia Sedona was introduced to UK buyers in September 1999 alongside the Shuma hatch and the Clarus saloon. This all-out assault failed to garner much of a beach head on these shores, but undoubtedly gave Kia dealers something to shout about. The Sedona was a revelation. How could anybody pitch a seven-seater MPV with a generous level of standard trim and a modern V6 engine at prices which started from under £14,000? Value for money was always the primary weapon in Kia's arsenal, but with the Sedona they had wheeled out the big stick, the weapon of mass destruction that would slay all rivals with its overwhelming cheapness. Except that it didn't happen like that. People still bought their Ford Galaxies, Renault Espaces and Scenics as if they'd been living on a diet of fertility treatment and oysters. The range consisted of two engine choices, a 2.5 V6 petrol unit as used in the top Rover 75, and also the 2.9-litre turbocharged and intercooled diesel. Trim levels ran through S, SX, GSX, and Executive, each with the option of an automatic or manual transmission. 2001 saw the introduction of a 143bhp common-rail diesel engine and a facelift for the Sedona. Revisions to the Sedona's exterior included revised front bumpers and headlamp clusters. Probably the most noticeable change was the deletion of the old car's 'toothy' front grille, replaced in this instance by a smoother slatted number. A wider rear screen and smoother rear bumpers completed the facelift and bottom tuck. A new bigger Sedona showed up in 2006 to replace this model.
What You Get
Should you manage to land a used Sedona, you'll get an awfully large piece of nearly new vehicular real estate for your money. All models from the entry-level S model up have dual sliding rear doors and seven seats with an eight-way adjustable driver's seat. Kia has mounted the gear lever or automatic transmission selector high on the centre console, allowing a walk-through layout with easy access from parents' front seats to the kids in the rear. Having just two seats in the centre allows you to walk right to the back row to read the riot act, too. The twin 'captain's chairs' in the second row can be swivelled to face the front or rear and also slide forwards or backwards. The individual second row seats fold forward to provide work tops for those in the rear row which can also slide forward and back to vary the luggage-to-people ratio. To maximise luggage space when carrying four, you can fold the rear seat vertically and slide it forward. It also reclines or turns into a bed. The first two rows all have armrests and only the centre rear head restraint isn't height adjustable. Rear passengers can control their own heating and cooling and there's a six-speaker stereo system for music throughout. Standard equipment on the base S model includes driver and front passenger airbags and a side impact protection system, power adjusted and heated door mirrors, front electric windows, electric aerial and variable-delay wipers. Nor must we forget eight interior lamps, 11 cup holders and numerous storage bins. Move on up to the SX and you gain alloy wheels, air conditioning and anti-lock brakes. The GSX adds electric folding door mirrors (well worthwhile if you often park on narrow streets), electric driver's seat adjustment with pneumatic lumbar support, an electric tilt/slide sunroof, electric rear side windows and remote central locking. Finally, there's the Executive with full leather upholstery, leather steering wheel and a radio/CD player with extra speakers, plus steering wheel remote controls. At this level, you're getting a very generous amount of equipment for money that would get you only on to the lower rungs of the European or Japanese MPV ranges.
What You Pay
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What to Look For
The Sedona suffers from the usual Kia failing of insubstantial plastics qualities. This may appear a trivial complaint, but despite the decent equipment levels, the Sedona never feels like an indestructible product. It's obvious where costs have been cut, and it could have been done in a cleverer way. Check the interior for tears, stains and snapped off fittings, and also inspect the luggage bay and the seat backs for signs of damage when loading. Mechanically the Sedona benefits from Kia's usual reputation for excellence. Otherwise insist on a full service record and contact a few franchised dealers to try to find the best bargain available.
(approx based on a 1999 Sedona 2.5S) Kia spares have gained an enviable reputation for good value, and replacement parts for the Sedona are no exception. Front brake pads weigh in at around £55, with rear shoes abit pricier at around £80 a pair. A radiator retails at approximately £85, whilst an alternator will cost around £120. For a starter motor you'll be looking at just £55 although a full exhaust system is over £500.
On the Road
Glancing down at that purposeful air intake on the bonnet and luxuriating in a sea of low-quality plastics you could almost kid yourself for a moment that you're at the helm of a Subaru Impreza Turbo. Certainly the Sedona V6's fuel consumption figures rival the Japanese icon's prodigious thirst. A touring route figure of under 19mpg compares unfavourably with the 32 mpg recorded by the quicker Renault Espace Alize 2.0. This impression unfortunately vanishes the first time you enthusiastically pitch a Sedona into a corner, to be bombarded by colouring books, half-eaten mouldering biscuits and Gameboy cartridges. Roadholding and ride characteristics were developed in Europe, and the Sedona rides pretty well, but requires an awful lot of arm-twirling at the wheel to make it deviate from its chosen route. Best not to expect it to handle like the Ford Galaxy/VW Sharan/SEAT Alhambra-cloned car that many buyers will also be considering. But then exemplary on-the-limit road manners are not generally high up the priority list of customers for cars like these. The 2.5 V6 has a fair amount of go, but power is developed very high in the rev band, making it both noisy and thirsty. The 2.9 diesel is a better bet, offering a more acceptable combination of torque and fuel economy.
In a corner of the market where costs are grudgingly monitored, the Kia Sedona would appear to offer a good range of options for the used buyer. Unfortunately, the V6 petrol model manages to shoot itself in the foot, campaigning to the price-conscious motorist with the promise of crippling fuel bills. The 2.9 turbo diesel models are a far wiser bet. OK, so they might not be the last word in driving pleasure, but think of all the money you can save. Maybe even enough for a deposit on a Lotus Elise. Now try criticising the way a Kia Sedona drives.