More stories related to Chicago Auto ShowDETROIT – When Kia Motors America unveils its new ’06 Sedona minivan this week at the Chicago auto show, don’t look for a stowable second row. (See related story: New Civic Headlines Chicago Show Menu)

Kia says having a stowable second row in the minivan, akin to what Chrysler Group has done with its minivans, is not feasible in the Sedona because it would mean sacrificing comfort.

A Kia spokesman tells Ward’s that only Sedona’s third row will fold into the floor, while the second row seating will fold flat. Chrysler’s “Stow ‘n’ Go” minivan seating features a second row that folds and stows in the vehicle floor.

“We’re like Honda (Motor Co. Ltd.’s Odyssey), we have captain’s chairs,” he says. “(A stowable second row) doesn’t really work. The comfort isn’t there because the seat bottom isn’t long enough.

“Chrysler spent (some) $700 million to do that second seat. It might work for their customers, but we have predominantly captain’s chairs rather than a bench because of the (need for comfort).”

New Sedona foregoes stowable second-row.

With the first redo of the Sedona since it’s debut in the ‘02 model year, Kia is looking to take on minivan quality leaders Honda and Toyota Motor Corp.

“It’s a completely new vehicle, and you’ll see a new, higher horsepower engine, (improved) interior space and styling, comparable we think to industry-leading models, such as (Toyota) Sienna and Odyssey,” says Peter Butterfield, KMA president and CEO.

Sedona was Kia’s best-selling model in the U.S. last year, with 61,149 units sold, a 20.8% increase over like-2003. However, sales still lag behind Honda and Toyota minivans, both of which sold upwards of 150,000 units.

Butterfield says to expect electric side doors and a rear gate on the new Sedona, “similar to the Chrysler products.” Also like Chrysler’s minivans, Kia will offer long- and short-wheelbase versions.

Sedona, the third new model Kia will introduce in the U.S. this year, will debut in fall.

Additionally, a new-generation Sportage cross/utility vehicle goes on sale in March, and the next-generation 4-door Rio will launch in May or June. The 5-door Rio hatchback is slated to debut in the July/August timeframe, Butterfield says.

cschweinsberg@primediabusiness.com