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Before I start this review I would like to say that I am not a mechanic or a car reviewer I know very little about how cars work but I use one on an almost daily basis and it is with this in mind that I have chosen to give my experience of the Kia Sedona.
The first thing that struck us about the Kia Sedona was the sheer size of it. I am 5'4" and the car is taller than I am, some of this is down to the roof bars but it is a big beast. The interior space was vast and my children could easily walk around inside the car without bending down. We were seduced by the size and what seemed to be a very reasonable price and fairly quickly did a deal and bought the car.
We bought the Kia Sedona GS 2.9 diesel on a 57 plate with around 23000 on the clock and in March 2010 we paid £7000.
After spending weeks researching on What car and Parkers websites reading hundreds or owner reviews on other MPV's I didn't even bother looking at the Kia reviews. I was two weeks from my due date and just glad to have something that looked promising at a price we could afford. In hindsight I should have read some reviews before we signed.
Don't get me wrong the Sedona is not all bad and I know that other people haven't experienced the same problems as we have but I do have a bit of a love hate relationship with our car.
As I said before the car is BIG. It can seat seven adults easily with plenty of shoulder and leg room for everyone. The two front row seats have arm rests and because there is no centre console the space in the front is amazing. The middle row is made up of three individual seats that can all slide backwards and forwards independently and all recline and can be rolled forward or completely removed. The back row is made up of two fixed seats that are about normal size car seats and are suitable for everyone from child car seats to adults. The rear seats can also slide, roll forward or can be completely removed. All seven seats have a three point retractable seat belt. We needed to fit four car seats into this car and because of the width of the vehicle and the size of the rear seats we managed this easily. Across the middle we had two group 1 fixed car seats and a group 0 baby carrier and in the rear seats we had a high backed booster group 1-2-3. Unfortunately if it is big on the inside it has to be big on the outside. I haven't measured the car but measurements can be found on the Kia website. The car does fit into a standard parking space just but if you include the wing mirrors it is as wide as the space so access to the vehicle can be problematic if someone parks close to you. I tend to park in an end space or next to a disabled space if all the mother and baby spaces are filled. The back doors of the car slide which makes getting the kids in and out so much easier even in a tight space especially when you are trying to remove a baby carrier or clamber in to do up seat belts and harnesses.
I would say that the gadgets you get with this car are pretty basic. There is no heated front window on our model but all the windows are electric except the two tiny windows at the very back. All the windows can be controlled from the driver's seat and the passenger and rear windows can be locked in any position from a button on the driver's side. The car is air condition and there are blowers throughout the car that can mostly be controlled from the front but the middle row of seats have their own controls for the temperature and air flow. I have only driven a few cars but I have been used to the indicator being on the right and lights on the left but the Sedona is the opposite which means that even now after over a year of driving it I still regularly wipe the windows instead of indicating. The other thing I am sure that is different is that with the Sedona you push the wiper lever up to make the wipers work and this is usually down. These things cause me confusion on a daily basis. The dashboard is very basic and everything is on a dial except the mileage which is digital. On the driver's door there is a button to open the petrol cap and down in the foot well is the bonnet release. The thing that causes me the most distress and frustration is the lack of hand brake! Whoever thought that not having a handbrake was a good plan is obviously not well. Instead of a handbrake you have a pedal on the floor next to your clutch pedal to put the brake on and a lever next to the steering column to release the brake. This makes stop start traffic and hill starts a nightmare because you have to release the clutch to put the brake on. I think it might just be difficult for me because I have been driving cars with handbrakes for the last 15 years and now I don't have one anymore and my brain forgets. I have owned this car for 17 months and I still grope around for the hand brake.
I need a big car and the fact that it looks like a big car is not a problem for me, I am not expecting to drive a minibus that looks like a Lotus Elise. It is a bit square looking and ours is grey so there is nothing to distinguish it from any other car out there except its size. It isn't going to take anyone's breath away and it isn't quirky or funky in any way. I think that it is similar looking to the VW Touran and the Fiat Multipa after its facelift. In my opinion it was the size not the looks that attracted me to this car and to be honest as long as it goes does it really matter. When I am driving my car I cannot see what it looks like anyway. The good thing is I can usually find it in a car park because it is taller than most of the others even the MPV's.
With petrol prices currently around £1.38 it costs approx. £80 to completely fill the tank of the Sedona. I have no idea how many MPG I get and I don't do a lot of driving around so that lasts me around 3 weeks. I do live in a rural area and have to drive everywhere but some weeks I only go out to do the school run. I was shocked the first time I filled the tank and at how fast the needle seemed to go down again but this Sedona is a 2.9 compared to our last car which was a 1.6.
Since we have owned this car it has been one problem after another and in some ways I pray that something will happen to it so we can get something else. The main problem we have had is an intermittent fault that causes the battery to drain. We are still covered by the Kia 7 year warranty and so the car has been back and forth to the garage on five separate occasions. We have been told three times that they cannot find a problem and twice they insist that it has been rectified. It hasn't. Basically the problem we have is that sometimes when you go to start the car it is just completely lifeless. Sometimes it will make a whirring noise but it won't actually start. We have been told that this has nothing to do with the built in DVD player even though there are lights illuminated on this permanently. We were told that they had replaced a part that was intermittently not switching off but we still have the problem. Twice we have had the car towed to the garage so that they can see it in its lifeless state but still they scratch their heads and suck their teeth and mumble about solenoids or whatever. We have asked a local garage to take a look but they want to see it when it is not working too which is a hassle for us because normally when we go to start the car it is because it is time for school or we are off to the dentist and we have no other way to get there. Luckily being on a farm we have other vehicles around and we can just jump start the car and off we go again and this is what we have been doing for the past 10 months because we just can't be bothered with the hassle of not having a car for days on end while they leave in on their forecourt while they scratch their heads. We are given a loan car but this is usually a normal family car which isn't big enough to seat a family of six. At the moment we just make sure that everything is switched off and never use the interior lights and we always start the car a little before we need to leave and let it run so then if it won't start we can jump it and not be late. The problem is that because it is intermittent it can be fine for weeks and then when you are running late it won't start even though you only used it the day before. During all the snow it was fine and started again after a week of not being driven and yet other times you can come home at 8pm try and go out again at 9am and it is completely flat. The other problems we have had with the car is that the air conditioning wasn't working so we got the gas filled in August last year and then in March when the weather was a bit warm I turned it to cold and low and behold it wasn't working again. I have owned a few cars with air con and never have I had to have them re-gassed every 6 months so I have left it now and we just open the windows! We have had other little niggly problems with electrics not working and at the moment the rear wiper isn't working and it isn't the fuse because we changed that. I could write you a big list but have chosen just to mention the main issues.
For the size and space and practicality of this car for my family's needs I would be happy to keep it and get another one because it is just right for us and meets nearly all our needs. However, due to the problems we have had with the battery draining and the air condition and the ridiculous hand break situation I will be glad to see the back of this car and that day cannot come soon enough for me. I haven't found another car that is the size of this but at a price we can afford.