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Many drivers will be hauling their families around in third-row SUVs this year, but the 2021 Kia Sedona proves that there is nothing quite like a good mini-van for hauling the kids around. With its power rear sliding doors, getting passengers in and out is easy peasy. The interior is cozy and serene, as you might expect from a mini-van, but it gets infused with a lot of personality.
The Sedona's last redesign was in 2015, but Kia keeps adding things to make it feel contemporary. This year, the L trim level has been discontinued in order to focus on the remaining three: the base LX, mid-level EX, and line-topping SX. These three trim levels all have a roomy cabin design that features a remarkably SUV-esque cockpit set-up. The cabin itself is serene, even when taken up to speed on the highway.
The ride does get a bit busy over rougher road surfaces though. This mini-van also has just a little bit less cargo space than some of the top competitors in this segment. This is likely something that Kia will alter for the Sedona's fourth generation, which is due out for the 2022 model year.
One of the most alluring features of the Sedona is its price tag. It is priced to compete and is more affordable than many of its rivals. And, for that price, you get a lot of features packed in on each trim level.
But is one of the Sedona's three trim levels the right one for you? Is one better than the other two? Let us go over the 2021 Kia Sedona's trim level options and see which one comes out on top.
Compare the 2021 Kia Sedona LX vs EX - What is the Difference?
Start off the 2021 Kia Sedona's line-up is the base LX trim level. The LX comes in your choice of five exterior colors (Silky Silver, Aurora Black, Snow White Pearl, Celesial Blue, and Panthera Metal) and Dark Graphite interior cloth. The exterior comes with a black mesh grille and has body-colored side mirrors with integrated LED turn indicators. There are also body-colored door handles, a front windshield that is made with solar controlling glass, rear privacy glass, and heated rear glass with a timer that can be set. The rear doors are both power sliding.
The front windshield wipers are able to sense rain, and there is a rear windshield wiper with a washer built in. The LX comes with projector beam headlights and automatic light control. It rides atop standard 17-inch alloy wheels done in a silver finish.
The interior has a lot of nifty standard features too, and it feels more loaded than some of its competitors. The LX receives a 7-inch color touchscreen infotainment display, and smartphone app integration is standard through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There are dash-mounted tweeters that accompany the 6-speaker sound system and Bluetooth wireless technology. The steering wheel has multiple controls mounted onto it, including those for audio, cruise control, and the hands-free phone feature.
Siri Eyes Free, an USB/auxiliary input jack, 12-volt power outlets, and a rear-view camera are all standard equipment on the LX. Active Eco System also comes equipped, as does remote keyless entry, dual glove boxes, air conditioning, 12 cup-holders, bottle holders on the doors, and a day/night rear-view mirror. The driver's seat is 8-way power-adjustable, and the front passenger seat is 2-way power-adjustable with lumbar support. The Slide-n-Stow second-row seats are easy to maneuver, and the 60/40-split folding third row seats can be taken down in order to utilize more cargo space.
A 3.6-L V6 engine and 8-speed automatic transmission come standard across the line-up. Together, this powertrain produces 276 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque. The Sedona gets an EPA estimated 21 mpg combined (with 18 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway). Front-wheel drive is the standard drivetrain. The LX is equipped with hydraulic power steering while the EX and SX come with rack mounted motor-driven power steering. The Sedona can tow up to 3,500 pounds.
When it comes to safety features, the LX has the very basics, such as a full array of airbags and rollover mitigation. You will have to upgrade to the EX in order to get standard driver aids.
Speaking of the EX, let's go over what comes equipped on it. Safety-wise, vehicle stability management, rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, and forward and rear park distance warning.
On the outside, you can opt for power-folding exterior mirrors that have heating, chrome door handles, a power sunroof, and Smart Welcome. Solar control glass can be added to the front door windows if you so choose. The rear doors are smart sliding, and you can opt for a power liftgate. You can add projector beam front fog lights too. Roof rails come standard, as do 18-inch silver finish alloy wheels.
When it comes to infotainment, the UVO eServices system comes equipped with a 7-inch touchscreen display, and you can opt to add a rear seat entertainment system to keep the kids engaged. There are some rapid-charging USB 2.1 charging ports, a wireless charger, an optional 100-V power outlet on the front console, and optional power one touch up/down rear windows in addition to the front ones.
Smart Key comes with an engine immobilizer and push button start function. You can opt for an electronic parking brake, tri-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror with the HomeLink universal transceiver, and a cooling glove box. There are standard integrated second- and third-row sunshades, leather upholstery, and heating on the front seats.
Options exist for adding a 4-way power-adjustable driver seat with lumbar support, an 8-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, an integrated memory system for the front driver's seat and side mirrors, a front passenger chauffeur seat switch, carpeted floor mats, and metallic door trim. Other standard interior design features include a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shift knob.
Compare the 2021 Kia Sedona EX vs SX - What is the Difference?
This brings us to the line-topping SX trim level. The SX sees a number of changes, both inside and out. On the exterior, the SX gets a dark metallic mesh grille, power-folding side mirrors, chrome exterior door handles, Smart Welcome, the power sunroof, solar control glass on the front windows and windshield, and a sound-absorbing glass on the windshield.
You can easily access the cargo area with the standard smart power liftgate. An auto-leveling feature gets equipped on the front with the LED headlights. High beam assist and low beam assist-dynamic headlights get included as well. LED positioning lights are also standard issue, as are LED front fog lights, LED taillights, and machine-finish 18-inch alloy wheels.
So, what is different on the inside? There are a few points worth mentioning. Navigation gets added to the infotainment system, for starters. HD Radio and SiriusXM Traffic also get thrown into the mix. A Harman Kardon premium sound system gets swapped in with a subwoofer, external amplifier, and ClariFi technology built into it for concert-like sound quality. Voice recognition is also standard and seems to understand many natural speech patterns.
The 100-volt power outlet up front gets standardized, and one gets added to the rear cargo area as well. The Supervision Meter Cluster with its 3.5-inch organic light-emitting diode color display (which is optional on the EX) is included with the SX. Drive Mode Select is also added into the equation along with power windows with auto up/down on the front and rear. An electronic parking brake is standard, and the tri-zone climate control system is too.
You can also stash your gloves and other small items in the cooling glove box up front. The auto-dimming rear-view mirror with HomeLink comes equipped and is handy to use when you realize you forgot to close your garage door after you have left your home. Standard seating includes the 4-way power-adjustable lumbar support on the driver's seat and 8-way power-adjustable lumbar support for the front passenger seat. Integrated memory features and the chauffeur switch for the front seat are now standard feature too.
The highlight of the SX's interior is the ventilation on the front seats. Having it be standard along with heating is truly a treat as some auto manufacturers leave ventilation as optional on even their higher trim levels. Of course, the heated steering wheel comes standard, as do the metallic door strips and carpeted floor mats. In other words, everything that comes as an option on the EX is standardized on the SX.
It is time to wrap up the SX's section by discussing its additional safety features and driver aids. The SX sees the standardization of helpful features like the surround view monitoring system, forward collision avoidance assist that includes pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, driver attention warning, and smart cruise control with stop-and-go technology.
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Which Trim to Choose?
Picking a trim level is going to depend on how much you are willing and able to spend. The 2021 Kia Sedona starts off at an affordable price but does get a little pricey on the SX. However, the $11,000 price jump can be justified when you look at the huge list of features that get made standard on the SX. And they are features that many people want to have on a newer, family-oriented vehicle.
While most people would probably want to see more of the driver aids on the lower trim levels, they will have to settle for having them on the SX. This takes away from how great of a deal the Sedona can be when compared to some of its rivals, but for those dead-set on getting the Sedona, the SX is going to be the way to go.
The SX's interior is plush with comfort, and the leather seating is quite relaxing with its breathable nature. Of course, having standard ventilation on the front seats feels nice on hotter days when you don't want your bare skin touching any sun-heated leather. Those with young children also might want to opt for the rear seat entertainment system on the SX.
Overall, the 2021 Kia Sedona is a strong contender in the mini-van segment this model year. Its impending overhaul is promising, for sure, but the Sedona as it is right now is pretty satisfying. With its long list of safety features and driver aids on the SX, the Sedona is a family-friendly vehicle that is all about trying to keep you and your loved ones safe (and entertained) while on the road. You will just have to plan your budget accordingly so that you can reap the benefits that the line-topping SX trim has to offer.
• Compare the 2020 Kia Sedona Trim Levels