2015 Kia Sedona Long-Term Review Update: take two

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A short three months ago we were talking about how much we loved the Kia Sedona MPV, and now that we’re halfway through our long-term loan, we still think the world of this family mover and people hauler. So many adventures have occurred since our last update. We took a trip to Reno, Nevada, we had a 7,500-mile service completed, and the Sedona was the victim of body damage, through no fault of our own.

IMG_0984ALet’s follow this in the correct order. While the Sedona has been trouble free since we got it, a high-pitched squeak developed as we traveled down the road. We thought it might have been a rear seat that wasn’t mounted properly, so we took it into the Kia dealership closest to our house in Sherman Oaks, California. What the dealership discovered what that the spare tire jack, which is mounted in a compartment on the left side wall of the rear cargo area, was a little loose, causing it to rub, and therefore to squeak. Fixed it, no problem. That’s the good news. The bad news is that when the technician was coming back from the checkout run, he tagged another car in the service department. The damage included a dent to the rear quarter panel, and another good-sized ding on the sliding door of the passenger side. The dealership fessed up to the accident, even though someone rubbed it out before calling to tell us what happened, which we weren’t happy to hear. It took them a week to repair it at the body shop, at no cost to us. We give them credit for doing a good job restoring it to pre-incident condition, but it left us with a bad taste and no desire to go back there for service.IMG_1034

We had the squeak checked out in the first place because we were planning a trip to Reno, Nevada, to attend both Hot August Nights and the Barrett-Jackson auction. We took the quick route up Interstate 5 through the farmlands, then through Sacramento, connecting to I80 through the Sierra Nevada mountain range until we dropped into Reno, the biggest little city in the world. If you look at the lead photo, we didn’t actually do a big smoky burnout in the van, but we did replace what was once a Dodge Challenger with the Sedona via photoshop. We can dream, can’t we?!

IMG_7670AAs much as we love the Sedona for hauling cargo and moving people, we truly admire its handling capabilities when climbing hills and steering through the curves, both of which it does with confidence and finesse. After 460 miles of driving, we are still amazed at how quiet the Sedona is, and how comfortable the seats are for both back and thigh support. We also did quite well when it came to fuel economy. Our highest altitude we traversed was around 8,000 feet, and the Sedona, with all the climbing and cargo, still managed to produce 22 mpg on average.

IMG_1749AWe had a great time in Reno watching the auction, as well as seeing who won the Barrett-Jackson Cup for best vehicle. (It went to builder Andy Leach of CAL Automotive Creations for a 1962 Chevrolet Impala Bubbletop owned by Randy and Lisa Wilcox.) After the long weekend, we decided take the scenic route back home down Highway 395, which used to be the only way to get to Reno from California. Boy, are we glad we did.

IMG_1756ATaking the back roads is such a great way to see this country. Although we’ve made this drive before, it had been a while, so it was fun to stop at some of the places we missed. On this trip, we drove past a great view of Mt. McKinley, stopped in Big Pine, California, for some Copper Top barbecue, checked out a lemon house, and visited the hubcap capital of the world, Pearsonville, California, which has a population of 12. All in all, the time and distance factors were only slightly more than taking the interstate, but the experiences were worth every extra mile and minute.

IMG_7851ABAfter the trip, it was time for the Sedona’s first service. The best experience was with the UVO app that Kia has for vehicles equipped with the system. There’s a place where you can schedule a request for service that goes directly to the dealership, plus, after service, you can update the app after syncing with the vehicle to keep track of your miles and that the vehicle was serviced, so you don’t have to remember. Loved it. Now onto the actual service adventure.

Since we wanted to not have a repeat performance at the last dealership, we headed about 10 miles due east to Glendale Kia, which now is owned by the Car Pros franchise. Even though we knew that the dealership was located on Brand Blvd. (well known in Southern California as the boulevard of cars because there’s at least one of every brand dealership represented on that long street), just for fun, we asked the Sedona navigation system to guide us to the nearest Kia dealership. It found Glendale Kia. However, it was the old location, and took us about five miles out of the way. If you were on the road and needed service, this would be a bad experience. But the way the GPS maps work in most cars, the Kia UVO navigation included, maps need to be updated. What would be upsetting is that the Sedona is only six months in our possession, but the dealership had been sold over a year ago. So the new location should have been in there. A map upgrade is $189, and it takes about 35 minutes to complete once you download the updates. Version 9 is what’s new, and we have 07.47, and the update would be 08.41. We’re on the fence about paying the money for the update, but it does look as if there’s a lot of good new content, including SIRI Eyes Free. It would be nice if when you buy a $38,000 vehicle, they give you at least one map update free.

IMG_7844AOnce we got to the right place, we were disappointed in how the dealership looked. The service bay was around back, and it was in a drive-through tunnel connected to the dealership. The day we took it in, the temperature was in the 90s and it was hot and stuffy. Luckily the waiting room was inside the actual building, and it was air-conditioned. For the service, we told them we wanted the 7,500-mile scheduled maintenance, which we were informed cost $89.99. We thought that was a bit high, so the service advisor said it would only be $59.99 if we skipped the fuel additive. At the local auto store, you’d have to fight to pay more than $10 for a bottle of additive. We certainly hope the other $20 wasn’t for the labor of opening the bottle and pouring it in the fuel tank! We declined, thank you very much! The regular maintenance included oil change, tire rotation, and a variety of other checks. We waited about 60 minutes out of the predicted 90, so we were happy about that, especially because the waiting room was somewhat grungy, without a nice place to work on a computer or even plug in a phone cord.

IMG_7839AAs we waited, we took the opportunity to wander into the showroom, fully expecting to be pounced upon by a bevy of sales consultants. Quite the opposite occurred. We were practically invisible. No one said hello, no one asked if we could be helped, and we saw consultants sitting at desks jawing with each other. Rather disappointing. There was only one vehicle on the showroom floor, a 2016 Sedona. We checked it out, and still no one approached us. With such a great lineup of Kia products, we were stunned how there wasn’t even the luxurious K900 or a cute Kia Soul, or even the Soul EV taking the open space on the floor across from the Sedona.

IMG_7852ASince we were invisible, we tried to make it easier for them to sell us something, so I approached the large front desk (no reception area to speak of), and asked if one of the sales consultants could tell me about how to get a navigation update and what it would cost. I was told they wouldn’t know that information, and I’d have to ask the service department. Their attitude was dismissive at best, and flippant at the least. You have to ask yourself, is this anyway to run a business?

IMG_1463AIt was painful to see how much effort Kia is putting into its vehicles, only to experience all that hard work and effort fall apart at the customer level. When we shared what happened with Kia, we were informed that the brand has been working on improving this area of the Kia buying experience, and is in the process of introducing Kia Gallery Stores that really raise the buying experience. There’s not one in our area yet, but if we can find one, we’ll report back.

On top of this, when it was time to pay, the bill was about $10 more than quoted, which we questioned, and our service advisor promptly reduced it without explanation, but not to the original $59.99. It was $60 and change, but again, if you’re going to change prices, don’t show me a printed sheet with pricing options, then still charging me a different price. We really can understand why people have trouble trusting car dealerships for service. Once again, we’ll seek out another Kia dealership for the next adventures in servicing. There are a few more within driving distance. I refuse to hold our experience against Kia, because this is an industry-wide problem that few manufacturers have control over due to franchising laws, but most customers don’t know this. Let’s hope the dealerships get on board and understand that customer service really can make or break a customer’s buying decision.

What’s next for Sedona? There’s a short trip planned down south San Diego way, and a jaunt or two to Las Vegas in the next few months. We’re also seriously considering driving the Sedona to the launch of the 2016 Kia Optima in Aspen, Colorado, as long as the weather holds. But even if it’s rainy, cold, or snowy, we have every confidence the Sedona will handle it with ease.

Photography © Team Killeen, Inc.