DRIVEN: Kia’s Grand Sedona is in league of its own

Trusty diesel engine produces 147kW of power and 440Nm of torque.

I was cruising along very nicely in the new Grand Sedona for a day or two, then I stopped at the gate of my parents’ retirement village and the security guard’s face lit up when she saw who was winding down the window.

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Strangely her smile was even bigger than usual.

“I’m so glad to see it’s you,” she announced. “Because when I see a car like this, my heart sinks because I anticipate there must be a funeral coming.”

Her words struck me on the head like a two-ton hammer.

How did I not realise the car looks like a hearse?

Especially in the dark grey trim we got to drive. Initially I was scared the stigma might ruin my good vibes of the Grand Sedona to that point.

Especially since the time I spent in the old Mercedes A-Class and the early Corsa hatchbacks didn’t sway me from regarding them as anything better than their customary stigmas: bread bins and tortoises.

But I was pleasantly surprised that, apart from having enough space for a generously sized coffin and looking the part from the outside as well, there is nothing dead about this car.

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The top-of-the-range SXL seven-seater was as nicely specced as you can wish for in a vehicle equipped for moving more people – and in comfort – than a sedan or medium SUV is capable of.

All Sedona models feature a 2.2-litre CRDi engine, a trusty old campaigner that also powers the Sorento.

The four-cylinder diesel engine produces 147kW of power and 440Nm of torque available at 1 750 to 2 750rpm through the fantastic eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Although Kia claims the Sedona can get eight litres per 100km, we averaged 10.2l/100km on almost 500km of which at least half was on the highway in Eco mode.

The engine is more responsive in the only other driving mode available, Normal, but also a bit noisier and not necessary at all. There is plenty or torque available no matter how heavy your load so you’ll never struggle to pull away and racing is the last thing you want to do when riding with lots of people in the back.

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With that consumption, the car should give you exceptional range on its 80-litre tank.

Up front, you get eight-way adjustable driver and passenger seats with integrated memory, infotainment system with eightinch touchscreen featuring navigation, seven-inch instrument cluster info display, wireless phone charger, heated and ventilated seats as well as a heated leather steering wheel.

In the back you get double sliding automatic doors, operable from inside, front roof console or key remote, heated seats, separate climate control, USB ports and drink holders.

The second row seats both have armrests and although the three bench seats in the third row are not as comfortable, they do feature generous legroom.

And there is still space in the back which can be accessed through a handy power tailgate. Both rear windows feature pull-up roller shades, while the dual sunroof allows you the option of taking in some Vitamin D (sunshine).

The car also offers a host of safety features like rear cross-traffic alert, electric parking brake and hill-start assist, along with the standard basket of goodies.

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The Grand Sedona does a lot right in a market where it is sort of unique. Minivans might be a huge thing in the US, but are rare in SA where the van or kombi has always ruled the roost.

At R792 995 the SXL seven-2eater is not cheap, but it’s a more comfortable than traditional vans and seven-seater SUVs and very competitive compared to luxurious German vans.

In short, the Grand Sedona is a really nice ride.

You could do a lot worse than being taken to your own funeral in one of these.

All new Grand Sedonas are sold with Kia’s unlimited kilometre/five-year warranty, a fiveyear/100 000km service plan unlimited kilometre/five-year roadside assistance.

Likes 

  • Seamless and unobtrusive eight-speed gearbox
  • Oodles of space contributes to a very comfortable ride

Dislikes

  • Lack of adaptive cruise control
  • Vinyl top of otherwise leather steering wheel bakes very hot in the sun

Verdict 

  • A great alternative if an out-an-out van is not to your liking

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