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2005 Minivan Buyer's Guide
by Martha Hindes

2005 Kia Sedona

If you're going to nudge into the middle of the pack, it's probably a good idea to be middle of the road. That's where Kia positioned its seven-seat minivan when it burst on the scene a couple of years ago, the latest to stake a claim for the American-as-apple-pie minivan buyer. As some auto makers attempt to broaden minivan appeal by clouding boundaries between them and their near relatives, Sedona seems happy at the heart of the market. It offers more refinement than redesign for 2005, adding a few amenities and enjoying its growing popularity and recently won five-star government safety rating in four categories.

New this year are captain's chairs available for second row seating on the entry-level priced LX model. Rear drum brakes grow from 10- to 11.6-inches, which should translate into somewhat shorter stopping distances. Retained from '04 is the larger front grille Kia emblem, tweaked sound system, standard tray tables, 10 cup holders and an available DVD entertainment system on both models.

Kia squeezed the front-drive Sedona into a mid-size minivan spot (194.1 inches overall), giving it a practical but not overwhelming footprint. Both LX and up market EX sport the same five-speed, 3.5-liter V-6 power plant, claiming title as the most powerful engine from an import manufacturer, that earns EPA ratings of 16 city and 22 highway miles per gallon.

While the Sedona remains a bargain with a $20,200 base for the LX and $22,600 for the up market EX, a bevy of options from rear seat entertainment system to leather trim could boost the price. And Sedona still lacks the automatic sliding doors or fold-into-the-floor rear seats of some competitors. But don't be surprised if such add-ons show up in a restyling expected in about two years.