Kia is updating the Sedona with a new look and new features. Will the Sedona minivan be able to break out of the pack with an infusion of SUV DNA?
The minivan is a strong illustration for the power of semantics in marketing. Framing and context can end up mattering far more than the actual facts of the matter. Minivans are practical; they are spacious, comfortable, and drive far better than your average crossover or SUV. And yet … the segment has shrunk to just a sliver of its former share of the automotive sales pie. The why is simple. Minivans connote domesticity whereas SUVs connote adventure. To remedy this, manufacturers are toughening up their minivans, both in how they look and how they are marketed. Kia’s upcoming revamp to the 2022 Sedona is a case in point.
Kia smartly recognizes the biggest problem for the minivan is the name itself. Again, this probably sounds silly to automotive insiders and laypeople alike, but Kia is dubbing the new Sedona a “Grand Utility Vehicle.” Cue eye rolls, I know. But words matter, and even if this alternative to “minivan” sounds like an over-correction, at least Kia is aware of the need for a change.
And Kia’s not the only one to get this. Recent updates to the Toyota Sienna and Chrysler Pacifica amped up the robust exterior qualities in an effort to more closely resemble SUVs. These moves succeed in making them more visually compelling, though we’ll have to see whether sales numbers appreciably improve.
Hyundai/Kia have been making great strides of late, upping their quality and curb-appeal such that their unexpected hit in the Kia Telluride is backordered into next year. Pivot to the 2022 Kia Sedona, due for American shores sometime early next year, and we find another visually compelling and high-quality vehicle that just might catch more than its share of attention.
The 2022 Sedona (the Carnival overseas) gets a major exterior update, including a new spin on Kia’s “tiger nose” grille. Kia keeps it fashion forward here, with a large mouth and a diamond pattern lattice work complimented by the scowling angle of the daytime running lights. This aggressive face introduces a longer, bulkier looking body with subtle body creases chiseling out its shape. Note, too, the fat, two-tone C-pillars for added flair.
The interior of the 2022 Sedona gets a welcomed update, too. Like the rest of the Kia lineup, the Sedona sports quality materials and a modern design that give it a premium-level finish.
Most prominent in the early photos are the twin 12.3-inch touchscreens that adorn the dash, one for the infotainment system and the other as a gauge display. Note too, the rotary shifter and large center console.
Though Kia has yet to release anything official, we can assume that, at minimum, the Sedona will continue with a naturally aspirated V6 under the hood and FWD. But, given that its closest competitors, the Pacifica and Sienna, both offer AWD options, it might behoove Kia to consider that as an option for the snowy North American market.
If it’s anywhere near as good as the Telluride, the 2022 Kia Sedona may help redefine our collective expectations of what a minivan can be. We might snicker at “Grand Utility Vehicle” today, but that may not sound so outlandish by this time next year.