Vehement Vans: 2016 Kia Sedona vs. 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan
As far as the current minivan market goes, it seems the 2016 Kia Sedona and 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan are the two that prove to roll all over the competition. Whether it’s because of their performance, safety, or interior luxury — these two vans provide top-notch value for your dollar. But between the two, which one reigns supreme? The famous and well-loved Grand Caravan has been in the spotlight multiple times, whereas the Sedona has been left on the back burner for the past few years. For 2016 however, it’s sporting a new redesign with some very impressive aspects.
When these two vehement vans go head to head, it’s a close call. But in the end, the Sedona — in a unexpected turn of events — appears to reign supreme.
Sometimes it’s easy to tell which vehicle has a better design or look, and sometimes it’s difficult. In this case, it’s difficult. Both models are sporting a design that looks good and is practical. The good looks mainly come from the bold nature, and the GC and Sedona both borrow elements from the SUV segment. The intimidating headlights, stern grilles, and wide sweeping hoods command the attention of both models. On the sides, both models have an upswept beltline and large tires, albeit the Sedona has gigantic 19-inch chrome tires to really fill up the wheel wells. In an uncanny coincidence, the Sedona and GC both happen to have a strikingly similar rear-end. The only noticeable difference being the Sedona’s slightly larger bumper and smaller and more square taillights.
To make matters even more complicated, both of them have effective aerodynamic designs, which is proven (in part) by their similar fuel economy. Therefore, the outside of each one simply comes down to preference, since they both have a design that looks good and is oriented towards saving fuel.
The inside? That’s a whole different story, and the Kia Sedona is absolutely dominating the competition when it comes to interior quality, comfort, and space. Here’s why...
While Dodge has a nice set up going for their van in the front, the Sedona’s is still better. Expert reviewers like Edmunds claim that it has the most memorable first row of any minivan. When you see what it looks like, it’s hard to argue against that idea. It has classy looking gauges in the front, a sleek and high-quality touchscreen, a stylized instrument panel, wide and sweeping dashboard, and even a full-size center console sitting between the first-row seats. Unlike in other vans, the shift-lever is mounted directly on the console. Kia understands that this type of shift-lever is easier to use, as opposed to the traditional steering wheel mounted “tree-shifter.”
However, it causes the Kia to lose out on storage space up front, which is perhaps the only area where the Grand Caravan beats the Sedona. But, we’ll get to that a little later.
Even in terms of passenger space, the Sedona comes standard with eight seats and the GC comes standard with seven. On the SXL trim, the Sedona has the opportunity to have seven seats with two captain's chairs in the second row just like the Grand Caravan. The difference, however, is that the Sedona’s captain's chairs are built to be far more comfortable than the Grand Caravan’s. How? Well, the winged head-rests are a good start, and the Second-Row First-Class Lounge seating also comes with the capability to recline, as well as footrests that extend out from the base of the seats.
This is the only minivan in the class to have this type of second-row comfort, and adds a whole new level of luxury to the interior. Plus, they can be heated, and Tri-Zone Automatic Climate Control allows passengers in the back to have their preferred temperature.
Since the Sedona’s second-row seating slides forward and folds up behind the first-row seats, it loses out on a chunk of potential storage space. The third-row seating can fold flat into the floor, but it still isn’t enough to beat the Grand Caravan’s 143 cu-ft of storage space thanks to its Super Stow N’ Go system which folds all the rear seats flat into the floor. On every other trim except for the SXL, however, the Sedona comes with a three-seater bench in the second row, which needs to be completely removed. As inconvenient as that sounds, it gives the Sedona its largest cargo capacity — which is 142 cu-ft.
That means the Sedona loses to the Grand Caravan by one cu-ft of cargo capacity on every other trim except for the SCL. On the SXL, it’s significantly more. The fact the Sedona comes standard with nearly the same amount of cargo space — even if it doesn’t have fancy Stow N’ Go seats — but provides an upscale-luxury experience on the SXL trim means that it can be bought with either supreme comfort or storage space in mind.
Besides, the foot-rests on the second-row seating make the loss of storage space palatable.
Just like the design of both vans, the performance is a toss-up. Each van has one engine option: the Sedona’s 276 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque 3.3-liter V6 is almost comparable to the Grand Caravan’s 3.6-liter V6 that produces 283 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. But, the smaller engine in the Sedona means that you’ll be seeing enjoying improved fuel economy.
On the L, LX and EX trims, it gets 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. It improves to 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway on the SX trim thanks to an electric power steering system exclusive to this trim level, but drops to 17 mpg city and 22 mpg highway on the SXL trim because of an extra 100 pounds.
The Dodge Grand Caravan only gets one EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. Which means the Sedona ties or slightly beats the Grand Caravan on four of its trims.
Which means if you want comparable power with slightly better fuel economy, opt for the Sedona. Or, if you want a van that provides the reverse, grab the Grand Caravan.
A Brief Overview of Safety
It’s worth noting that the Sedona boasts a top five-star safety rating in government crash testing. That means it received a top score of Good in all five crashworthiness categories provided by the IIHS, and a five-star rating from the NHTSA. The Grand Caravan? It only received a possible four out of five-stars from the NHTSA, and was given the lowest rating of Poor in the small-overlap frontal-impact test, which is what tanked its score with the IIHS.
That top safety score effectively makes the Kia Sedona one of the safest minivans on the market, even safer than the Grand Caravan.
So, Why is the Sedona Victorious?
Well, for one, it’s one of the only other minivans on the market that even has a chance of being pitted against the legendary Grand Caravan. But, it’s also just a great quality van. The materials on the interior are both comfortable and exquisite, and they only get better the higher-up in trim you go. It also provides a unique first-class experience that’s reminiscent of what’s found on an airplane, and while the Grand Caravan has a nice interior, it can’t even come close to the interior of the Sedona. Nor can the Grand Caravan compare to the Sedona’s overall top five-star safety score. Combine that with the similar performance, technology, and design — even if the Sedona’s is slightly more interesting at a second look — and you’ve got a winner.
While it costs more throughout the trim levels than the Grand Caravan, the 2016 Kia Sedona typifies getting what you pay for. The SXL trim, in particular, with its five-star safety rating, reclining and foot-rest equipped captain’s chairs, dual sunroof, Tri-Zone Automatic Climate Control, adult-size space all throughout the cabin (even in the back seat), and many more features, proves it.