Back in January I drove the new Kia Sedona, and was impressed. It offers all of the size and most of the features found on the leading minivans, with superior handling, and a lower price. Ride quality and interior ambiance weren't as good as a Honda Odyssey's, though.
This month (May) Hyundai dealers are receiving their own version of the new Sedona. At one point Hyundai considered canceling the Entourage, but dealer demands brought it back. Clearly they didn't have too much investment tied up in it. Perhaps the Entourage is just a badge job? Is there any reason to choose one over the other? I took a mid-level Entourage SE for a test drive to find out.
The styling of the Entourage and Sedona differs only in details; the basic designs are the same. The exterior is essentially a minor update of the 1999-2004 Odyssey, clean, trim, and well-proportioned. Anyone who wishes Honda had never abandoned the previous Odyssey's less pretentious styling will find the new Koreans very appealing. Mild fender flares and a shoulder beneath the beltline make the Sedona more up-to-date than a simple copy of the old Honda would have been.
This said, I personally find the Hyundai's front end more appealing. The Kia's horizontally split grille is somewhat odd.
Inside, the story is much the same. The interior doesn't look quite as upscale as the current Odyssey, but some people will find its more pedestrian styling more to their taste. Nothing special here--just simple, functional design. Materials seem of good quality, if not quite up to the level of the Honda and Toyota. The Entourage's interior does somehow feel richer than the Sedona's. The trim plates are different, and the Hyundai might actually have higher grade materials. Different suppliers? It comes much closer to the leaders in ambiance.
Tan interiors have fake wood trim, gray interiors fake aluminum. Both actually look good, which is to say not too fake.
You sit higher relative to the instrument panel in the Entourage and Sedona compared to the current Odyssey. I personally prefer this, as the Korean vans feel smaller and more agile as a result. The seats are comfortable, but don't feel quite as substantial and cosseting as those in the Honda. Those in the Hyundai might be better than those in the Kia, but without examining the two back-to-back it's hard to say.
Though the Korean vans match the leaders in exterior dimensions, they trail a bit inside. In terms of total legroom, the Entourage, like the Sedona, trails the Honda by four inches and the Toyota by six. The difference didn't feel quite this large to me based on the distance from my knees to the previous row's seatback, but this is partly because the seats are mounted lower in the Entourage, forcing knees up into the air a bit. Though the Hyundai's second row would work for adults even on long trips, and the third row would be suitable for adults on shorter drives, said adults will be more comfortable in the higher, slightly more substantial seats of the Odyssey or Sienna.
With a tumble-forward second row, the Entourage is a bit more versatile than the Honda, as you can carry more cargo without removing the second-row seats. Like in the Honda but unlike the Toyota, the front-row passenger seat does not fold flat for even more capacity. In any of these vans the second row must be removed for maximum cargo volume; Chrysler maintains an advantage here.
On the Road
The Entourage's 242-horsepower 3.8-liter V6 doesn't sound as refined as the 244-horsepower 3.5 in the Honda, but it moves the van at least as quickly. Which means this van can accelerate much more quickly than a minivan has any right to. Getting to forty is especially brief and effortless. Stomp on the gas from a stop and you will spin the tires for a second until the traction control kicks in.
Fuel economy trails that of the uplevel Odysseys, but 18/25 is still quite good for a large vehicle with a powerful engine.
I was especially impressed with the sharpness of the Sedona's handling compared to the Odyssey. The Entourage has different suspension tuning, and as a result resembles the Honda in this area. It still handles well for a minivan, with very acceptable levels of understeer and leaning in turns, but not as well as the Kia. As in the Kia, a higher, more open driving position helps lend the Entourage a more agile feel.
The payoff is in ride quality, where the Entourage also resembles the Odyssey more than the somewhat noisier, somewhat harsher riding Sedona. The differences aren't huge, but they are nevertheless significant. The Entourage feels like a more expensive, more refined vehicle than the Sedona--even though I tested the mid-level trim. The Odyssey feels more upscale still, but not by as large a margin.
One possible exception: this time around I noticed some exhaust drone while cruising. The Kia might be the same here, but I didn't note it during that test drive. However, I still didn't hear the "drumming" at highways speeds I did in the Odyssey.
Hyundai Entourage Price Comparisons and Pricing
Perhaps because of the nicer interior and additional refinement, a loaded Entourage is initially priced about $2,000 higher than a loaded Sedona, even before factoring in the Kia's $1,000 rebate. (The newer model year might also be a factor; the 2007 Kia will likely be more expensive than the current 2006.) As much as I prioritize handling, I liked the Hyundai more than the Kia, but not this much more.
Looking at base vans, the pricing is close, with the Hyundai only about $700 more before the Kia's $1,000 rebate is included.
Though the Hyundai's price is two to three grand under a Honda's, depending on equipment levels, I'd expect significant rebates within a few months.
Prices change frequently, and differences will vary based on feature level. To quickly generate these and other comparisons with the specific features you want, visit my Web site, www.truedelta.com. (It's the only site that provides true "apples-to-apples" price comparisons.)
TrueDelta's page for the Entourage:
Like the new Sedona, the Entourage is a very competitive minivan. It's closer to the Honda in some areas, most notably ride quality and upscale ambiance, but trades off a bit in the handling department to achieve this. Overall I preferred the Hyundai to the Kia, but not enough to justify the current price difference between the two. Rebates could even out the playing field down the road, though. Both are impressive vans; the Koreans could end up owning a large chunk of this segment.
A note on Hyundai Entourage Reliability
When I asked the Hyundai salespeople why people should buy their van, they asserted that Hyundai's quality is higher than Kia's. And the major surveys will back them up on this. However, unlike other Hyundais and Kias, these sibs are produced in the same, Kia-managed plant.
I have been developing a site, www.truedelta.com, that not only collects reliability data but focuses on the differences between vehicles. It will be interesting to see how these vans compare with each other and the segment leaders.
Before I can report results, I need data on all cars--not just the Entourage--from people like you. To encourage participation, those who help provide the data will receive free access to the site's reliability information.To encourage participation, those who help provide the data will receive free access
to the site's reliability information. For non-participants, this access will cost $24.95.
For the details, and to sign up, visit www.truedelta.com.
A link to this website and alphabetized links to my other vehicle reviews
can be found on my profile page
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Some of my reviews of related vehicles:
Kia Sedona review
(similar to this review, but more detailed in some areas)
Buick Terraza review
Dodge Grand Caravan review
Ford Freestar review
Ford Freestyle review
Honda Odyssey review
Nissan Quest review
Toyota Sienna review