Exterior view of the 2016 Kia Sedona SX Limited, 2015 model shown. (Courtesy: Kia Motors America)

The Kia Sedona packs in plenty of niceties to soften the step into full-blown parenthood, and is worth close inspection, writes our automotive editor Sally Miller Wyatt. (#Siliconeer, @Siliconeer, #2016KiaSedona, Lifestyle)

Something happens to people when they become parents: As much as they may resist, there comes the time when they must bow to vehicular needs of the family. A two-door coupe no longer cuts it. Sedans can be a borderline solution. What’s left, a minivan?

I know, I know. Minivans have a certain “cache,” but there’s a reason they are so popular with families. Their size and cargo-carrying features make sense when you have several kids, dogs, and lots of stuff to carry. And, if a minivan is the best choice, you might as well ride in style.

Kia took a year off for this model in 2013, and brought it back in 2014 with a host of changes. Now for 2016, there are just a few tweaks here and there, but some of the best features for families – a plethora of seatbelts — remain. There are either seven or eight seatbelts available inside this minivan, and that’s music to the ears of large families.

Interior view of the 2016 Kia Sedona SX Limited, 2015 model shown. (Courtesy: Kia Motors America)

Interior view of the 2016 Kia Sedona SX Limited, 2015 model shown. (Courtesy: Kia Motors America)

The Kia Sedona is available in five trim levels: the base L, the LX, EX, SX and the SX-L, which was our test version. All models are equipped with a 3.3-liter V6 engine with 276 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, which has been paired with a six-speed Sportmatic transmission. All models also have a standard rear back-up camera.

The base L and LX trims have cloth seats, and this isn’t just your regular, every day cloth. The fabric is stain-repelling, which is terrific for families, and it also has anti-static protection, which should protect you and your passengers from those annoying shocks. Heated front seats are standard on the EX and up trims, and eight-passenger seating is available in the SX and SX-L trims, when the Technology package is included.

There is also a seating option Kia calls “First Class Lounge.” These second row captain’s seats can be positioned rearward, and are equipped with retractable leg rests and airplane-style winged headrests. Okay, this might win over the pre-teens.

Standard seating offers Slide-N-Stow seats in the second row that slide and fold, while the third row bench seat folds in a 60/40 split down into the rear cargo floor. Having the seats fold flat into the cargo area really helps when you have to transport wide and long items.

The top-of-the-line SX-L model has seats covered in ultra-soft Nappa leather, and in our test version, it was two-toned leather with a contrasting trim. A nice touch.

Since many parents spend so much of their time on the road driving the kids around, there are several features on board that should make life on the road a little more convenient. They include high-power USB charging ports and 115-volt AC outlets for small electronics. A dual glove box has a cooling feature in the lower storage area, so you can keep the juice box drinks chilled. Above the rear view mirror is a wide-angle mirror aimed toward the back seats, so you can see just who is pestering whom. Wait, that doesn’t happen in your family?

The Kia Sedona is also the first to offer Geo-fencing, Speed Alert, Curfew Alert and Driving Score as part of its infotainment and telematics system. These apps can be downloaded free from iTunes and Google Play. Seems like a nice thing to have if you have young drivers using the family minivan, especially for those Curfew Alert and Driving Score apps.


Exterior view of the 2016 Kia Sedona SX Limited, 2015 model shown. (Courtesy: Kia Motors America)

As for safety features, the Sedona is equipped with a host of the best, and they are standard. They include Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control, Brake Assist, Hill-Start Assist, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, and anti-lock brakes, as well as Roll-Over Mitigation and Cornering Brake Control.

Behind the wheel we found the leather-covered seats were comfortable and supportive, and visibility to the front and sides was good. The head rests on the second row “Lounge” seats were large and did obstruct the view to the rear somewhat.

The V6 engine was powerful and not sluggish, and that’s a good thing to have with such a large minivan; you sure do want confidence at hard acceleration. Road noise is barely discernable at freeway speed, which means you can hear your rear seat passengers. That’s a big deal when driving the kids and their friends around, because you won’t miss out on all the hot gossip when the kids don’t think you’re listening.

The rear cargo area, even with the third row of seats in the “up” position, is large enough to easily handle all the stuff that comes with family life.

We parents spend so much time in our cars it should be comfortable and accommodating. This is certainly the case for the 2016 Kia Sedona. It’s a very nicely equipped and feature-packed vehicle large enough for the whole family.