It may not go as well as the others, but the Kia sure stops, requiring only 135 feet to halt from 60, in spite of having rear drum brakes. The two longer-stopping competitors feature more sophisticated four-wheel-disc-brake systems. The Grand Caravan posted a close second place at 136 feet. But the Odyssey stretched out its 60-0 distance to 145 feet. Like the acceleration runs, the brake tests were conducted with just a driver behind the wheel. Stopping distances lengthen considerably when vehicles are loaded with passengers or cargo.
Minivan buyers expect an arsenal of active and passive front-line safety features. All our competitors have dual front airbags; Honda offers standard side-impact airbags, while Dodge provides them as a $390 option. Our lower-cost newcomer doesn't offer them at all. The only extra front-seat passenger protection in the Sedona comes from its seatbelt pretensioners. All three vans, however, are equipped with stability and stop-distance-enhancing anti-lock braking; the Honda and Dodge also have traction control. But the Kia charges you $595 for anti-lock, while it's standard in the other two.
Keeping younger passengers comfortable and entertained is a big bonus across town or across country. All the minivans vans are equipped with power windows and door locks, as well as cruise control, tilt wheel, and lots of beverage holders. No, we didn't send in an audit team to verify cupholder count--let's just say each has at least one for every passenger seat.
All three have features that please the grown-ups, too, including alloy wheels, universal garage-door openers, and premium six-speaker sound systems. The Dodge and the Honda also have front and rear heater and air-conditioning systems. All have a plethora of reading lights, with convenient individual controls in the Grand Caravan and Odyssey. The latter boasts second-row seats that slide together or apart (which moves the location of the pass-through to the third row), but we found little need for that feature. The Sedona's third row doesn't magically fold away, as does the Odyssey's, but it does adjust fore and aft for more legroom or to permit the seatback to recline.
There's even more convenience and luxury available in the Grand Caravan and Odyssey, but to keep the stickers in the right price zone, we skipped the Honda's navigation system as well as the costly DVD players. While our Grand Caravan, like the Sedona, came with leather seats, our Odyssey had standard cloth.
Between the front buckets, Honda and Kia offer handy foldaway tables for a purse or loose items for the driver. We like the Dodge's clever removable storage console with a 12-volt power point. The console can be easily relocated without tools to the center foot corridor between the second-row buckets. In a blatant attempt at convenience one-upmanship, the Kia offers two instrument-panel-placed gloveboxes and a storage bin atop the middle of the dash, with a pop-up door. All three vans have storage drawers under the front-passenger buckets.