2002 Kia Sedona on tuscan vineyard image

Flashback Friday: First-Generation Kia Sedona

Kia Sedona Model History and First-Generation Photos 

Famous for their ability to carry an entire family and plenty of cargo in as much comfort as a mass-market vehicle can provide, minivans have experienced a range of degrees of acceptance by automotive shoppers.  

When they first debuted, they were beloved. Drivers, who had previously relied on a station wagon for their family transportation, now had more headroom, comfortable third-row seating and the option to have nearly a truck’s worth of space available with the seats folded/removed. 

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, every family had a minivan. It was likely this mass acceptance that led to the revolt against them by the following generation in the early 2000s. 

We’ve spoken at length about how drivers need to get over their conditioned aversion to minivans and enjoy all of the space and comfort they provide. With the 2019 Kia Sedona, the minivan has finally become stylish – adopting a wide body, muscular profile and luxurious sweeping contours. 

[READ MORE: 6 Reasons Why You Should Buy a Minivan Tomorrow] 

For the Sedona, however, style wasn’t always baked into the formula the way value has been. If you’ve followed our Throwback Thursday/Flashback Friday feature before, you know that Kia is a brand that historically lagged (at best) in terms of design.  

The last ten years have seen an incredible leapfrog to a position of design leadership, but we want to take you back before this change. Today, we’re looking at the first-generation Kia Sedona. 

First-Generation Kia Sedona Specs and Information 

Debuting stateside for the 2002 model year, the Kia Sedona was a high-value minivan model that sought to attract buyers in the dwindling minivan segment. Manufactured in South Korea, the first-generation Kia Sedona included Kia’s 3.5L V6 engine which put out an underwhelming 195 horsepower and 218 lb-ft. of torque. 

This engine was mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission. 

Despite the sluggish engine output, the first-generation Kia Sedona could tow a whopping 3,500 lbs., a number that has continued to be the maximum towing capacity to this day. 

While the 2019 Kia Sedona can fit up to 142 cubic feet of stuff into it with second- and third-row seats folded, the earliest Sedona was notably smaller, providing only 127.5 cubic feet. Even with all of the safety features/sensors/airbags/etc., the newest Sedona has more cargo and passenger space. 

Perhaps the biggest difference between the modern Sedona and the first-generation is the gulf in design. Sure, the late 1990s and early 2000s weren’t renowned for automotive design, but the earliest Sedona didn’t try anything. Its profile was like a composite of every minivan that had gone before it and its interior left a lot to be desired. 

Still, the Sedona managed to foment the badge as one of high value and signified Kia’s commitment to understanding the needs of drivers, despite the potential market share of the minivan segment shrinking. 

With the 2007 Kia Sedona, Kia added more standard and available features, gave the model some styling enhancements and brought the design between the Spartan early Sedona and the technology-packed behemoth we know and love today. 

First-Generation Kia Sedona Photos 

Scouring Instagram for the #KiaSedona and #KiaCarnival hashtags, we were able to find the following photographs of this early wonder. 

A post shared by Car captures (@highwaygraphic) on Mar 15, 2019 at 1:29pm PDT

What Did the First-Generation Kia Sedona Teach Us about Kia? 

It taught us that inner beauty is the most deep, eternal and holy beauty. Okay, we’re being dramatic. 

The most compelling lesson the first-generation Kia Sedona has for us is Kia’s commitment to being a high-value manufacturer that loves delighting drivers in niche segments. Although numbers for the minivan weren’t looking good by the early 2000s, Kia knew there were families that still relied on the class’ unique combination of versatility, comfort and value. 

This fascination with impressing drivers in niche segments continues to this day and has seen Kia release a luxury sports sedan in the Kia Stinger, a funky sports box in the Kia Soul and (if rumors are to be believed) a forthcoming pickup truck. 

If you have questions about the current Kia Sedona, would like to test-drive one or would like to stop by and show us your pristine first-generation Kia Sedona (you know we love the oldies), contact us today! 

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