Is Kia's Grand Sedona a great family vehicle? Here's 10 things you should know about this premium MPV in South Africa.
Cape Town - Give me a car with sliding doors and I'll be your best friend. Give me a car with sliding doors, seven seats and oodles of space and you have me hooked, line and sinker.
Practicality is key for parents; features like direct access to seats and the load bay as well as ease of egress is paramount when you have children. That, and storage compartments - loads of them.
These are some of the reasons that would make the Grand Sedona a must-have in my garage.
Kia's grandest Sedona yet
Launched in August 2015, the Grand Sedona followed the launch of the new Sorento in South Africa (June 2015). It's available in seven and 11-seat configurations; three specifications (EX, SX and SXL) and two engine options (turbo diesel and V6 petrol).
Here's 10 things you should know about this premium MPV in South Africa.
1 Gosh, it's pretty.
Kia has produced some rather stylish models thanks to design guru Peter Schreyer who penned beautiful cars for the automaker and brand partner Hyundai. Schreyer, known for playing vital roles behind models such as Audi's TT and Volkswagen's new Beetle, has brought the Korean automaker's design cues to the fore with distinctive characteristics such as its 'tiger-nose grill' and large air-intake integrated in the front bumper.
Okay, some people think it resembles a hearse and teased me relentlessly while driving it on test but I like this big, bold vehicle.
2 Everyone can enjoy the sun
It's fitted with not just one huge sunroof but two! Now the kids (or adults) in the third row of seats won't feel left out and both glass units are fully functional.
3 Open sesame!
When you're a parent to young children, especially babies, you're always going to have a hundred things - often unnecessary - to load into your car... not to mention the often tedious task of fitting your children in said vehicle. Power sliding doors are a huge winner, especially when putting a child in a car seat takes some tactical skill and swift movements.
Just a press of the button on the key fob lets either the left, or right, or both doors open - and close - automatically when approaching the car, making the task of loading your children and their kit that much easier.
4 Those seats are nifty!
Not only are the rear seats easy to access because of the two individual seats in the second row leaving a gap between but they're also just as comfortable as they appear. Probably the most convenient thing is that the third row of seats folds completely flat into the floor for an even bigger load bay area.
Even though the second row is pretty awesome the space can be become a tad uncomfortable when you have a small child in a car seat - like when needing to feed them on the go or hold their milk bottle. Here's where I would prefer the traditional bench. These too can fold forward when you need to load perhaps a bicycle or two. What's amazing is the incredible boot space even when the third row of seats is still up, with 359 litres of stowage. When the tailgate is open, the boot doesn't have the conventional flat loadbed but it sinks in providing a deeper cargo area.
5 Best seat in the house (read car)?
That has to be the captain's seat for sure. The combination of a raised driving position, premium seat materials and lumbar-support makes for easy driving and is probably one of the most comfortable seats I've experienced behind the wheel of a car. I just love that huge centre compartment - which is large enough to stow away a small laptop or tablet - along with the other cup holders and trays to go with it. There's also a huge pull out tray behind the centre console which makes a great place to keep valuables out of sight when you're parked at a shopping mall. There's also two cubbyholes: the larger, bottom one can be used as a mini refrigerator during SA's heat wave summer days.
6 Why the seats are kid-friendly
Whether it's crushed or melted chips, milk, juice or baby fluids - dealing with spills is an ongoing battle for parents. There are some things a vacuum cleaner can't always fix and who has time for a mini valet each time your kid makes a mess in your car? The upholstery in the Grand Sedona should be available in all cars; it's easy to clean and doesn't absorb all the mess from daily dribbles.
Kia says its stainless technology allows liquid spills to bead-up and can be easily wiped away. Stains that become rubbed or pressed into the surface just need a bit of soap and water. Sadly, this technology is only available on the EX model.
7 What's it like to drive?
It doesn't matter where you're headed, the Grand Sedona makes you feel like you're always on your way to a happy place, even though it might look as if you're headed for a funeral due to its sheer size. It feels like you're driving a regular compact MPV with responsive steering and dynamic performance on tap even when you need to overtake. The 2.2-litre diesel engine is more than suffice and packs a 147kW/440Nm punch.
8 It's packed with technology
The Sedona has numerous driver assistant programmes which helps with smooth, safe driving such as its high-performance damper which works in conjunction of the Sedona's suspension. It provides extra comfort, responsive steering and stable handling. It's also packed will all sorts of safety features including hill-start assist and electronic stability control to name a few. The Rear Cross-Traffic Alert system warns the driver if it detects any cross traffic in the lane the vehicle is entering or exiting a parking spot, or even if you're backing out of your driveway. It also has front and rear parking sensors.
9 Giant car, tiny screen
What's not the like? There is very little to hate about the new Grand Sedona. That being said the biggest, and probably the only, gripe I have is the size of its minuscule display screen fitted to the dashboard. It's rather ridiculous for such a huge car and its parking aides are rendered irrelevant when you have to look down and squint your eyes to see what's happening on the screen. Dear Kia, please can we have a bigger LCD display...as standard?
See what I mean? It's so tiny. Kia South Africa says most customers don't care about the 11cm screen, and for those who want a bigger option will have to fork out an extra R20 000 for the satnav system.
10 It's a good buy, if...
If I could fork out R536 000 right now for the 2.2 CRDi EX 7-Seat base model, then yes sir I would. It has everything I need in terms of functionality but it's also frugal and very comfortable to drive. More importantly, you can fit your kids, their kit and comfortably seat the grandparents during a long drive. And, if you have even more money to spend and have an even larger family, there's the 11-seat option.