Is this what gig vans of the future will look like?

Some manufacturers have already said that even with the advancement of autonomous technology, they don’t want to force the steering wheel out of our hands, ultimately saying we’ll have a choice of driving ourselves or being driven autonomously. Of course, governmental agencies will probably pass a law banning human drivers anyway, but we’ll save that conversation for another time. The bottom line is that Kia is one of those companies that is pushing to remove the steering wheel forever. This has never been more evident than now, with every concept at SEMA being void of an actual steering wheel. Even the School of Rock Sedona you see here is 100-percent autonomous, with Kia making it a point to note that autonomous vehicles will eventually haul around our little ones for us to “accommodate their busy lives.”

All of that aside, Kia partnered up with the School of Rock and LGE-CTS to create this crazy gig van you see here. Like the rest of its concepts at SEMA, this one is fully autonomous. It has unique features like built-in amplifiers for roadside shows and an interior that features not only a studio but an area to chill as well. This concept supposedly maintains all of the framework that allowed the production Sedona to obtain a five-star safety rating from the NHTSA and a Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS. But, the B-pillar on the driver side has been removed. Lack of a B-pillar may fly in some markets, but here in the U.S., it’s unacceptable for a Ford F-150 to park its front end inside a van in the event of a side collision. So, you should probably take that PR talk with a massive grain of salt.

With that said, let’s take a look at this crazy concept that offers a pretty awesome way for students at the School of Rock to get from point A to point B.

Continue reading to learn more about the Kia Sedona School of Rock.


The exterior of the Sedona School of Rock hasn’t really been modified all that much. The body took a base of candy red with the front getting a unique layout of tan accenting in different shades. Farther back on the sides, you’ve got the School of Rock logo along with some unique livery. The front grille has been reworked with a black surround and a School of Rock logo in the middle while the insert in the fascia and all of the chrome trim takes on a black finish as well. All but the front side windows have been blacked out, including the windshield.

The body took a base of candy red with the front getting a unique layout of tan accenting in different shades.

Around back, the white and red livery continues with a black School of Rock logo between the rear glass and the Kia emblem on the hatch. The insert on the rear fascia and the exhaust outlet have also been painted black. Up top, there is a custom roof rack that can be used to store and transport band equipment. This is great, considering there isn’t room inside the van for hauling equipment, but you better be sure your cases are waterproof. If not, using this van to get the band around could get expensive quick should they encounter inclement weather on the way to the next gig.

All told, it’s an interesting take on a type of vehicle that has all but disappeared from the market and shows that the minivan can look stylish with the right livery and styling.


The inside of this van has been heavily modified to make it a studio on wheels. The driver-side doors apparently open in suicide fashion, and without a B-pillar in place piling in or out should be a breeze. Kia obviously believes that autonomous vehicles will be able to completely prevent accidents as you’ll notice there are no seats or seatbelts to speak of. But, in place of these things, there’s a custom liner in the room and rear wall that provide a unique ambiance, and there are throw pillows of various sizes here and there. Red and black is the theme here, with the roof and rear wall being a shade of red that almost matches the candy red exterior. This wide open area doubles as a chill spot and recording booth, with lots of lighting and a huge mic hanging from the ceiling.

The inside of this van has been heavily modified to make it a studio on wheels.

Up front, the entire dash has been removed, including the steering wheel. It the place of these items is a custom-built desk solution that offers up an audio mixer, and two computer screens to control the music for the person recording in the rear. There are two large speakers mounted in the front, upper corners of the cabin. While this is a cool setup, I’m not sure how well those speakers will work out so close to those monitors. Enough bass will clearly disturb them, while too much will ultimately destroy them. Display screens don’t tend to do well over time when subjected to excessive vibration.

In the very rear, and apparently inaccessible from the interior, is a pair of large amps that Kia says are perfect for impromptu roadside shows. I don’t know about performing on the side of the road, but this thing would be a pretty damn cool ride to take to tailgate parties, that’s for sure. This interior is pretty cool to look at, but things like the speaker placement and the lack of safety equipment shows that some things weren’t thought out as well as they could have been. I’d be curious to know if the design team that put it together took into consideration the acoustics of the van itself and how speaker placement ultimately affects sound quality.


Kia did nothing to the drivetrain or chassis, but that is to be expected on a concept like this. After all, this concept is all about people hauling and the novelty of having a studio and comfortable chill area built into a gig van. The van did get fitted with a pair of Vossen VFS-6 20-inch wheels that are finished in flat black and wrapped in Toyo Proxes 255/45-series tires. Not that it matters for an autonomous vehicle that will likely be governed worse than the Olympics if they were held in North Korea, but under the hood lurks a 3.3-liter V-6 that delivers a fairly impressive output of 276 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. Utilizing an aluminum block and aluminum heads, it isn’t the strongest engine out there, but it is pretty light for its size. For the record, the van should be able to hit 60 mph in about eight seconds while top speed sits somewhere around 110 mph.

2015 Kia Sedona High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 548836

Note: Standard Kia Sedona drivetrain shown here.

Kia did nothing to the drivetrain or chassis, under the hood lurks a 3.3-liter V-6 that delivers a fairly impressive output of 276 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque.

In comparison, the Sedona has three main competitors that include the Chrysler Town & Country, Honda Odyssey, and Nissan Quest. The Town & Country offers up 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque from a 3.6-liter, Pentastar, V-6, while the Nissan Quest offers 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet from a 3.5-liter, and the Honda Odyssey offers just 248 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. So, as far as power is concerned, the Kia Sedona would be one of the best options for a gig van if you’re running late to your next show.

Horsepower Torque
Kia Sedona 276 HP 248 LB-FT
Chrysler Town & Country 287 HP 262 LB-FT
Honda Odyssey 248 HP 250 LB-FT
Nissan Quest 260 HP 240 LB-FT


2016 Kia Sedona School of Rock High Resolution Exterior
- image 694179

While I think Kia is pushing a lot of PR with this concept, I think the idea and overall design is pretty cool. I’m still not convinced that this concept could ever pass U.S. safety regulations without a B-pillar on one side, but maybe I’m wrong. The other thing I’m really not sure about is that speaker placement in the front. I’m not a musician or anything, but I’ve done many custom audio systems for cars, and speaker placement is of the utmost important for sound quality. Without knowing that the acoustics of the van have been taken into account, I can’t say for sure that this studio setup would work well. The fact that it is a studio on wheels, however, is freaking awesome.

To be honest, I would like to see more concepts like this in the future, as it showcases how relaxing or productive travel in a future full of autonomous cars will be. And, that’s ultimately where we’re heading right? Leaving the driving and road conditions to the AI, while we focus on the more important and finer things in life?

  • Leave it
    • Doubtful that it meets U.S. safety regulations
    • No way to view the path of the vehicle from the inside
Robert Moore
Editor-in-Chief and Automotive Expert -
Robert has been an auto enthusiast his entire life. He started working cars at a young age, learning the basics from his father in the home garage on the weekends. As time went on, Robert became more and more interested in cars and convinced his father to teach him how to drive when he was just 13 years old. Robert continued working on cars in his free time and learned as much as he could about engines, transmissions, and car electrical systems, something that only fed his curiosity more and eventually led him to earn a bachelors degree in automotive technology with a primary focus on engine performance and transmission rebuilding.  Read More
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Press Release

One of the most intriguing aspects of the autonomous life is the safety aspects associated with removing the possibility of human error when behind the wheel. This is especially true when children are involved and Kia imagines a world when vehicles will someday autonomously transport our young ones to accommodate their busy lives.

2016 Kia Sedona School of Rock High Resolution Exterior
- image 694176

Partnering with School of Rock, the leader in performance-based music education, Kia turned over a Sedona minivan to LGE-CTS, set a creative session with all the concerned parties and the School of Rock Sedona gig van was born. This rolling recording studio features everything aspiring musicians crave: a studio, a place to chill and a completely hands-free way of transporting the band to the next gig. The stunning hand-painted School of Rock imagery hides the strong bones of the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ and NHTSA 5-Star rated Sedona so parents can be assured their kids will make it to the show safely and with more than 180 locations, School of Rock plans to hit the road in style to perform at various shows with their talented musicians.

2016 Kia Sedona School of Rock High Resolution Interior
- image 694185

Significant enhancements to the Sedona include the removal of the driver-side B-pillar, steering assembly and gear selector. This makes room for a digital mixing board and dual flat-screen monitors to record tracks. Front-mounted near-field speakers pump out the tunes and when a track is being laid down, the RECORDING light mounted to the roof illuminates. Vocalists will appreciate the boom mic that hangs from the ceiling. Sound-studio-quality acoustic foam panels line the interior to reduce exterior noise during an intense recording session. Should the band decide to host an impromptu roadside show, the Sedona’s lift gate flips open to reveal an imposing stack of amps. There is also storage on the roof for guitars, bass guitars and a myriad other instruments. Fun and comfortable custom bean bags allow the band members to relax or jam in style.

2016 Kia Sedona School of Rock High Resolution Exterior
- image 694180

Layered on a base of candy red are contrasting white tan and black accents. The School of Rock logos and music-inspired icons are hand painted. While no modifications were made to the suspension, the School of Rock Sedona rides on flat-black painted 20-inch Vossen VFS-6 wheels that are wrapped in aggressive Toyo Proxes 255/45R-20 tires.

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