There’s a bit of a love/hate relationship when it comes to minivans. If you talk to someone who drives a van, they swear by it. Greatest vehicle purchase they ever made. To others? Well, it’s that vehicle type that is cringe-worthy. Sure, just about every highway traffic jam is due to an early 2000s Chrysler minivan putting around in the fast lane, the driver oblivious to the world around them. But modern minivans offer all kinds of nice features, especially for families where a full-size SUV just doesn’t cut it. If you are in the former category of van lovers, you’ve also probably discovered not many brands make vans any longer. Ford doesn’t make one. Neither does General Motors. In fact, U.S. News only has five listed minivan models for the 2020 year, and two of them are Dodge/Chrysler, which basically make the same van just with slight trim differences. So, you’ve got four choices to pick from, which means you better make it good. One of these choices is the 2020 Kia Sedona, which has a low starting MSRP of $27,600. That’s a great starting point, but how does the rest of the van stack up?
Engine and Trims
Generally, you’re not going to find a half-dozen engine options with minivans. You’ll have something large enough and strong enough to handle the sheer weight of the van. But you’re probably not going to find many undersized I4 engines or oversized V8s. Basically, it’s all about what a van can do with its V6. Some brands do offer slight engine improvements based on the trim package, so let’s look at the trims and the engine options available on the 2020 Kia Sedona.
The base trim for the 2020 Kia Sedona is the L package. This is followed up by the LX, the EX, and the SX. All four trims use the same engine, are all automatic transmissions, and are all front-wheel drive. The fuel economy is also going to be the same at 18 MPG in the city and 24 MPG on the highway. So, when you decide to go from one trim to another the big difference will be on the interior. You’ll upgrade from cloth to leather seating, receive additional entertainment features, and have a navigation system added (more on these features later).
As for the engine, all 2020 Kia Sedona’s use a 3.3L V8 that produces 276 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque. It’s not an engine that’s going to blow you away by any means, but it has some juice to help make sure you’re not that traffic-jam causing minivan (let’s say it together, people: the left lane is the passing lane. Slower traffic keep right).
Towing and Cargo Space
Minivans are not generally constructed for massive towing amounts. It does have a V6 but you will find better towing numbers on other SUVs and pickups. However, that doesn’t mean it is a complete wimp regarding towing potential. With a trailer hitch installed on the 2020 Kia Sedona, you can max out at 3,500 pounds. This kind of weight will allow you to move some U-Haul trailers and even a pop-up camper. All-in-all that’s not terrible and, chances are, will be more than you ever really need to tow with your van.
Cargo space is likely far more important for most minivan owners than towing potential. Whether you’re loading it up with gear for the kid’s baseball tournament or you’ve finally made the Florida drive you’ve been promising for years, you’ll want something that can handle your luggage and gear.
With the 2020 Kia Sedona, the max cargo volume for just the rear is 33.9 cubic feet (it doesn’t matter which trim you go with the cargo volume will always be the same, although some upper-tier trims do come with luggage racks on top, making it possible to add secondary luggage storage options). When you fold down the third row, you increase the cargo volume to 78.4 cubic feet. Should you fold down the second row, your cargo volume will jump all the way to 142 cubic feet. Outside of purchasing a full-size SUV, you’re not going to find that kind of interior cargo space anywhere else. And a base trim 2020 Kia Sedona is far cheaper than anything you’ll pay for a full-size SUV.
This is where the difference in trim shines. With the basic L trim, you’re going to get a pretty basic entertainment setup. It will have AM/FM stereo, an AUX input for connecting external devices with a headphone jack (which are few and far between now), plus it has smart device integration via Bluetooth. That’s it. So you better hope for a clear cell signal or jamming to the greatest hits of the ’80s, ’90s, and today, because without any third-party upgrades, your entertainment features will be rather limited.
The top-tier trim is very different. It comes with the same features as the basic trim, a wireless phone charger, HD radio, satellite radio, a premium Harman Kardon sound system, a navigation system, SiriusXM Traffic, plus an optional entertainment system. We do wish it had available Wi-Fi, but Kia hasn’t fully jumped on board with this yet, maybe the 2021 model will allow us to stay connected no matter where we go. Outside of that missing feature, the 2020 Kia Sedona will have everything you could ever want in a minivan and features you never thought would be in one.
When you shop for a minivan, you want something safe. Most people don’t buy a minivan just for fun; minivans are for families or people who need to drive multiple people around regularly. With this in mind, Kia has put safety first. It’s not as high up as full-size SUVs, so there are some height disadvantages. However, there are several excellent safety features. The base package comes with a driver, front head, front side, passenger, and rear head airbags. It also uses four-wheel ABS and disc brakes, plus brake assist, traction control, electronic stability control, child safety locks, and daytime running lights.
The top-tier trim features the same safety features, in addition to lane departure warning, integrated turn signal mirrors, blind-spot monitoring, and cross-traffic alert. While there are a handful of safety upgrades, you receive almost everything with the base package, so you’ll never be forced to pay for key safety components with the 2020 Kia Sedona.
So Which Van Is Right For You?
Gone are the days where everyone with more than one kid owned a minivan. There’s no more faux wood paneling (which we both loved and hated), and nowadays, the idea of a one-sliding-door design is unheard of. Despite this, there aren’t many minivans left. We wouldn’t go out and say it’s a dying breed because there will most certainly always be family minivans available. But with the continued expansion of SUVs and crossovers, there just isn’t as much of a need. With the slashed selection of family minivans, what is it that you’re looking for? Do you turn to a minivan you’ve owned in the past? Or if you’re a first-time van shopper, what is it that attracts you (because let’s face it, the exterior of most vans is rather similar)? We’d love to know your thoughts and feelings on what makes a great minivan.