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Most minivan reviews seem to forget about the Kia Sedona. It's a very comparable van and beat out the Honda and Toyota for my money. Back in 2016, I traded by Scion tC for a minivan when our second child was born. It was so tight in the back seat, it was easier to plop my son into his carseat by literally going through the rear hatch. I’ll be talking about my 2016 Sedona SXL, 8 passenger with about 42k miles and my 2019 Pacifica Limited S with about 3k miles.

I didn't get the Sienna because of the aging platform and mid-80's center console design (and not much has changed since then). The Honda was ruled out because the center screens got a little washed out with polarized sunglasses and discounts were hard to find. During the test drive, I preferred the handling of the Sedona. The Pacifica was just released but being the first new vehicle by a new company (FCA) I decided to pass. It was also before the S appearance package and I don't like the styling without it.

Initial issues:
Sedona: The passenger sliding door motor died. Replaced under warranty.
Pacifica: Front bumper is out of alignment. New bumper on the way. See my other thread.

The Sedona is going for a Kim Kardashian look. Just another pretty face until you walk around and ****! that rear end! Up until the B pillar, it looks like a Sorento SUV which, to me, is a good thing. It gives it a more aggressive look without trying too hard (looking at you Sienna SE). From behind the B pillar, it’s all minivan. The middle has a nice character line at the belt and lower sill. The rear quarter has an upward kink, like a reverse Odyssey. While it looks good, it just make the third row windows smaller and harder to see out of. The front and rear has a faux skid plate which breaks up what would be a large swath of bumper. Headlights are HID and rated marginal by the IIHS. I have to agree. The cutoff is too low and doesn’t “throw” far enough for me. It’s hard to see pedestrians and I don’t feel safe driving over 70mph on a dark highway. 2019’s have an LED option. Taillights are LED and handsome, but nothing special. Outside mirrors auto-fold when locked which I love.

The Pacifica seems to harken back to the 4th gen Town & Country, eschewing the boxy look of the current Dodge Caravan/Chrysler T&C. The designer must’ve been on vacation the day it was due because it looks like he took a Chrysler 200 and used the stretch function in Photoshop. The side door rail is nicely hidden under the third row window like the Sienna. Up top is the never reported Stow n Place roof rail. I didn’t even know about it until AFTER I bought it. Similar to the Subaru Outback, the cross rails are neatly stowed parallel with the rack when not in use and have a weight rating of 150lbs. Breaking up the middle are two strong character lines. The top line continues behind the rear wheels, sweeping downward halfway to the rear. The D pillar has a unique reverse design that flows nicely with the angle of the spoiler. Tail lights use LED for the markers in a nice racetrack design similar to the Charger. The stop lamps are regular bulbs. I’m not a fan of the liftgate handle being stuck on beneath the license place. I would have preferred it integrated under the wing badge. Headlights are HID (unavailable on the Hybrid?!) as are the foglights (or at least very close in color temp) and rated acceptable by the IIHS (HID with AST). I also just discovered that the outside mirrors also house puddle lamps which is a nice touch. The mirrors power fold, but only when you hit the button, which I always forget. The S appearance package blacks out all the chrome and badging and come with black wheels. It tells everyone that I’m still cool. Stop laughing.

The Sedona’s SUV theme continues inside with a full center console and traditional shifter. I actually like this layout better. It provides with a bigger center storage area and two cupholders that sit behind the center armrest and is easily accessible by the front occupants. The 8 inch screen has a matte finish and doesn’t show fingerprints as much as the Pacifica’s. There are also more buttons for the radio/nav/UVO, and climate control so there’s less menu digging. The dual glove boxes offer more room for stuff and have an HVAC vent to keep drinks cool. There are 12v, 110v and USB connectors throughout. The rear cargo light is also a detachable, rechargeable flashlight which comes in handy when looking for a lost Hot Wheel at night. The spare tire is under the van under the second row. It’s lowered with the tire wrench via a nut behind the passenger seat. It a pain in the ass to get it out and put back in. But at least it comes with one. My 8 passenger configuration deletes the Nappa leather, lounge second row seats and sunroof. Seats are wider and softer than the Pacifica, especially in the second row. The second row seats do not come out, but they do have a novel fold-up feature that lifts the seat flush with the front seatback. You lose out in absolute cargo volume vs having removable seats, but gain in convenience in not having to store them somewhere. We removed the center seat because that thing is just cruel and having that aisle provides easier access to the third row. It doesn’t tilt with a car seat installed. The manual third row stowes quickly and easily. Heated steering wheel stops at the “wood” trim on top. Ventilated seats are pretty weak compared to the Pacifica, but works well enough to take the burn off a hot seat. Rear seat entertainment is an optional flip up screen that is pretty lame. Better off getting a couple of tablets.

The Pacifca is traditional minivan. It has a floating center storage console with a large empty space under the dash. The shifter has been replaced with a dial which flies in the face of over 20 years of muscle memory. The two front cup holders have rubber bubbles to grip cups of varying sizes, door holders are good for bottled water only. The second row cup holders are in the slide out tray located on the bottom of the center console which makes it hard for everyone to use. There are cup holders molded into the sliding door. Third row drivers side is SOL and will have to make friends with the passenger side occupant. Probably to make room for the vacuum. The 8.4 inch front display is covered in glass and is a fingerprint magnet. There are buttons for the HVAC and safety systems, but that means you have to go into the menu for the heated/vented seats and rear climate control. The rear 10 inch full HD screens are a great way to keep kids from looking outside and come with two wireless headsets remotes with a touchpad for those kids with T-Rex arms. Of course the star of the show are the Stow n Go seats. Comfort is compromised for the ability to quickly and easily drop the seats into the well. The also flip forward even with child seats installed for easy access to the third row. When not stowed, we put extra kids clothes and jackets in the drivers well, and the spare tire in the passenger well. That spare tire, by the way, is an option and I had to order it from the parts department for about $500 and took a month to arrive. Otherwise, it comes with a compressor with a built in can of Fix a Flat. Not a good option when you’re an hour from anywhere and you have a sidewall puncture or catastrophic blow out. The panoramic sunroof covers the first and second row and is covered with a fabric cloth. It opens over the front row only. The third row has a fixed sunroof and has a manual sunshade. The Limited has a mandatory power operated third row which moves as fast as 1980’s Chrysler. And if it stops because you forgot a stuffed animal, you’ll have to wait a minute for the system to figure out where it is and how to restart. The manual seats in the lower trim is so much better. The vacuum is made by Ridgid and works well. It comes with an extension tube to reach everywhere and two attachments; a brush and a crevice. Oddly, there is no way of manually turning on the cargo area lights.

Since 2016, the Sedona has added LED lights, auto emergency braking, lane keep assist, 8 speed automatic, and rear monitors for movies.
Both are rated IIHS Top Safety Picks losing out on the Plus designation because of headlight performance. The Sedona HID lights performed marginally. The new LED option scored a poor because of excessive glare. However, performance for illumination was good for low beams. In other words, screw the other drivers and get the LEDs. High beams and halogen lights were poor. For 2018, Kia reinforced the passenger side for the small overlap test and improved its rating to acceptable. 2017 added auto braking which, as with the Pacifica, worked up to 25mph in the IIHS test. Adaptive cruise control works down to a stop in both, however, the Sedona turns off after stopping while the Pacifica will go again with a touch of the gas pedal. The Pacifica will follow closer to the car ahead, important in cut-you-off traffic of LA. The lane keep assist in the Pacifica is basic at best. It will ping pong you left to right a couple of times before turning off and leaving you careening into the next lane. Both have a 360 surround view monitor, but for some reason, I feel like the Sedona has a better view. I don’t know if it’s the angles of the cameras, but I feel like I have a better view of what’s around me. The Pacifica has auto parking for parallel and perpendicular spots, although I’ve only used it in the dealer lot, but it did work as advertised.
The seats in the Sedona are more thickly padded and wider which matters to a fatty like me. AC and vented seats are better in the Pacifica. Both have auto, tri-zone climate control and vents for the second and third row and heated second row seats. The center armrests in the Pacifica are on the narrow side but are nicely padded. Interior noise seems higher in the Sedona, but it’s by no means loud. The Pacifica’s suspension feels much more sorted out. It soaks up bumps and dips without any floatiness. The Sedona’s springs feel stiffer but underdamped making it rougher over bumps but more bouncy through dips or large bumps like railroad crossings.
The Pacifca has a 3.6L V6 that puts out 287hp @ 6400 rpm and 262 ft-lbs @ 4000 rpm. The Sedona has a 3.3L V6 that puts out 276hp @ 6000 rpm and 248 ft-lbs @ 5200 rpm. As such, the Pacifca does feel quicker off the line, but the Sedona feels like it has more mid-range pull. MPG for the Sedona is 17/22/19. With my heavy right foot, I can get 22mpg highway, but my city/combined is more like 16mpg. The Pacifica is rated at 19/28/22. That’s right about what I get. The Sedona catches up with a slightly bigger fuel tank, 21 vs 19 gallons. The Sedona turns tighter too, with a turning circle of 36.8ft vs 39.7ft. Steering feel is better in the Sedona. While not exactly a Porsche, it’s better than the video game-esque wheel of the Pacifica. If I’m bombing up the Angeles Crest Hwy, I’m picking the Sedona. It also helps that the Sedona has a manual gear mode while in the Pacifica, I’m stuck putting it in L and hoping the transmission does the right thing.
Kia’s UVO is just as easy to use as Chrysler’s Uconnect. Uconnect allows you to rearrange the icons and set a quick access row at the bottom. However, Kia’s redundant buttons means you won’t need to use the touch screen as much. Both have good graphics and are responsive. Kia now has an optional rear seat entertainment which has two touch screens and a DVD player. The Uconnect Theater includes kid friendly apps like Tic Tac Toe, are we there yet, and math quiz. A blue ray player is in the front console as well as a USB port which can play two different movies on each screen. You can also Miracast a cell phone or tablet to the rear screens. Each screen also has its own HDMI port. You can control each screen from the front to help the little ones. Impressive stuff. The Pacifica’s kick to open mostly works. The Sedona has a proximity sensor to open the rear liftgate but nothing for the side doors.

Overall, both vans are very good. The Sedona has the edge in performance and ergonomics, while the Pacifica is more comfortable and has a much better in car entertainment system. MPG is measurably better in the Pacifica, but the warranty is unmatched with the Sedona. If you carry teens/adults around, the Sedona might be better with its optional lounge seating and rear seat entertainment consisting of their phones. If you have kiddos in car seats, the second row seat comfort difference won’t matter and the Pacifica is better with its superior Uconnect Theater and tilt forward feature of the second row seats. Both will cover miles with ease and get you and your group there in comfort.

315 Posts
Good review. Thanks! I've been looking at the Sedona SX, too. One thing I like about both the Pacifica and the Sedona is the oil filter is on top of the engine. Using a vacuum oil extractor through the dipstick hole, there is no need to go under the vehicle when doing an oil and filter change.

I appreciate that the Sedona has a transmission selector that allows one to select a specific gear while the Pacifica does not.

Unfortunately, the second row seats that collapse forward in the Sedona may not leave enough room in the side door opening to allow access to our two side-by-side dog kennels. After a truck hit the back of our previous Town & Country at a stoplight rendering the rear hatch unoperable, we no longer keep the kennels in the very back. We need to actually visit a Kia dealership and try one out.

The lower gas mileage in the Sedona is also a concern, but I have read on a Sedona forum where some drivers were able to get substantially better highway mileage than what is posted on the Monroney sticker.
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