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2015 Kia Sedona tries to escape the minivan stigma

Company looks to reinvent segment with its “multi-purpose vehicle”

Published: April 18, 2014 02:00 PM

Kia took the wraps off the Sedona 7- and 8-seat passenger vehicle at the New York auto show, but it avoided calling it a minivan. Instead, the automaker insisted on referring to it as an MPV or multi-purpose vehicle. The company is still targeting their chief competitors, the popular Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna, and it is hoping the name omission will help them avoid the minivan stigma.

But if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

A company spokesperson explains, “there’s really nothing mini about it,” and the Sedona will be a global car—minivan is not a term used overseas. He also said the company is trying to be a little provocative and looking to change the image of the category.

While there is a soccer mom stigma to minivans, they really are the best choice for families with children. Minivans are just about the only vehicle type to offer a 3rd row seat roomy enough for humans with enough cargo room behind, or beside, depending on how seats are configured. In addition, there are plenty of pockets, bins, and cup holders to keep everyone’s stuff within reach.

Minivans are now offering a host of safety features, which is increasingly important for the families riding in these vehicles, but some have more than others and new models like the Sedona are raising the bar.

The 2015 Sedona will have available forward-collision warning, blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control. The Honda Odyssey also has those features, minus the adaptive cruise control. Just blind spot and cross-traffic alert is available on the Sienna, Chrysler Town & Country, and Dodge Grand Caravan. The Nissan Quest only offers blind spot. With their family focus, it is not surprising to see active safety systems proliferate across the segment. Given that several competitors are getting a bit dusty, Kia has an advantage in being able to roll out the latest, great gear with their new entry.

But whether you call these vehicles an MPV or a minivan, it is clear that this segment has honed in on a one-box-does-it-all solution. And no matter how you spin the language, Kia has aimed to build a better box, rather than reimagine the category.

We’ll see how it measures up to the segment leaders when we buy one for testing.

Liza Barth

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