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Kia Sedona 2.9 CRDi LS

Date: 28 June 2006

Category: MPV Prices: £15,995-£22,595
Delivery: 2-6 weeks Key rival: Ford Galaxy

Kia has big plans for its new Sedona MPV and intends to increase fleet sales from the old model's 48% closer to the class average of 60% of all vehicles sold. That's a bold claim from a company that has just upped the prices of its new car by around £2000 across the board compared to its predecessor, but the new Sedona could well just have the ability to pull it off.

The new MPV has been designed with European buyers in mind, so gone is the elongated nose of the old car to be replaced with a simple monobox shape with crisp modern lines. There's nothing radical about the Sedona's looks, so there's nothing to put off potential buyers, which Kia is confident will also help improve residual values and lower contract hire rates.

Inside, the Sedona keeps with the conservative, understated theme of the exterior, but there have been some big changes to the cabin compared with the old model. Although the new Sedona is 120mm shorter overall, the cabin is 177mm longer to provide better accomodation, and the seating plan has been changed from the previous version's 2-2-3 layout to a more usual 2-3-2 design

The seats' layout provides ample space in the front and second rows for adults passengers, while the third row is also able to cope with fully grown occupants if those seats are slid as far back as possible. Headroom is a little tight in the third row for taller adults, but the Sedona is still able to carry seven in decent comfort.

With seven on board, luggage space is limited to 364 litres, but with the one or both of the rear seats removed it's possible to fit in plenty of cargo. Removing the seats requires strong back muscles, but it's a simple system for removal and refitting. With all five rear seats taken out, the Sedona offers a huge 3440-litres of load space. You'll need to find somewhere to stow the seats as the Sedona is not as clever as the new Ford Galaxy or Chrysler Voyager to store seats within the cabin, but the Sedona is still an effective large MPV.

Another effective component of the new Sedona is its uprated 2.9-litre turbodiesel. It now has 182PS, making it the most powerful four-cylinder turbodiesel in its class. Performance will not set your heart thumping, but it pulls strongly when there's a full load on board. A five-speed manual gearbox is standard and we'd stick with this as the £1100 optional five-speed auto is slow to react and dulls the Sedona's otherwise decent drive.

Based on the same platform as the new Magentis, the Sedona has a much improved ride over its predecessor, and the steering now has a positive feeling and tighter turning circle. There's a little road noise that filters into the cabin, but the turbodiesel is refined when cruising on the motorway.

A revised 2.7-litre version of the Sedona's V6 petrol will arrive in December and will only be available in the entry-level GS trim with manual gearbox. In the meantime, the diesel is the only choice and it's the one we'd go for. It's not quite as emissions friendly as a Citroen C8 or Hyundai Trajet, but the Sedona's lower list price cancels out the C8's advantage and the Trajet is not nearly as good to drive as the Kia. This means the Sedona is worth considering and is why Kia is confident of achieving those sales targets.