The Kia Carnival steps up where the Sedona left off.
When is a minivan not a minivan? When the manufacturer chooses another name for it, such as a multi-purpose vehicle or MPV. That’s exactly the approach Kia took when the 2022 Kia Carnival MPV rolled out this summer, replacing the previous Kia Sedona minivan. Nevertheless, with sliding rear doors present, the Carnival is very much a van. And it’s a solid entry in the three-row people-mover class at that.
Kia offers the 2022 Carnival four trims: LX ($32,100), EX ($37,600), SX ($41,100), and SX Prestige ($46,100). Add $1,175 for the destination charge. The base and top-of-the-line trims seat seven. The EX and SX seat eight. The Carnival is a front-wheel-drive model motivated by a V6 engine.
A Matter of Style
How do you apply style and substance to an otherwise nondescript body layout? With care, yet while managing expectations.
Minivans are certainly useful, but they’ve also received derision for their boxy layout marked by rear-sliding passenger doors. Practicality has always triumphed over beauty and in the first department minivans excel.
Kia has done its best to make the Carnival a more palatable vehicle for people who prefer SUVs, although the traditional door arrangement remains. The Carnival’s front fascia is elegant, with chrome dominating the grille and zig-zag accent lighting imparting a sporty touch. Its profile is long and plain, but fancy alloy wheels and an unusual “shark fin” embellishment on the C-Pillar are welcome.
What’s the best thing about the rear? The available hands-free liftgate automatically pops up with a kick underneath the rear bumper. Being loaded down with groceries while tending children is a challenge every parent faces.
The automatic rear sliding doors reveal just how roomy the Carnival is inside. While our choice would be seven-passenger seating, the middle jump seat in the second row is surprisingly comfortable. The second-row seats tilt forward, fold down, or can be removed. The third-row seats fold and can disappear into the floor. When not in the floor, a huge in-floor compartment is available for holding groceries.
Various nooks, crannies, and storage compartments throughout the cabin are also found. Altogether, the Carnival has far more cargo-carrying space than similar-sized crossovers, including a pair of Kia models: Sorento and Telluride.
Bring on the Amenities
A family vehicle is nothing if it does not serve up all the amenities we expect. Beyond multiple storage compartments and an available rear entertainment system to keep youngsters occupied on long trips, the Carnival delivers the goods.
Full power accessories along with front and rear air conditioning are standard. Most trims feature a power driver’s seat with lumbar support that’s also very comfortable for the average-sized adult. Cloth seats on the base model give way to imitation leather or real hides elsewhere.
Our test SX trim featured real leather, wrapping the seats and covering the layered dashboard. Brushed metallic trim separates the upper and lower portions of the dashboard, a touchpoint typically reserved for luxury models. Heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and heated second-row seats can also be had. An available panoramic dual-pane sunroof brightens the interior and is perfect for counting stars.
On the tech front, an 8-inch touch-screen display is standard. But the available 12.3-inch screen with the digitized dashboard simply improves the look and usability. Bluetooth, smartphone compatibility, seven USB ports, and a six-speaker audio system. The list of upgrades includes a 12-speak Bose sound system and a wireless charging pad.
Among the safety features, little is left out. Forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection kicks things off. Lane keep assist, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear parking sensors are included. Among the upgrades are adaptive cruise control, additional parking sensors, and a surround-view camera system.
On the Road
No minivan will ever send a shiver down the spine of drivers as they press the pedal to the metal. The most powerful among them deliver about 300 horsepower. That’s robust performance, but these vehicles are designed with families in mind. In other words, they offer a comfortable ride and are quiet.
The Kia Carnival features a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 290 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque. Power travels to the front wheels with an 8-speed automatic transmission. This model averages 21 mpg and has a towing capacity of up to 3,500 pounds.
At most, we had five people in our weekly tester, but that experience gave us a solid indication of how the Carnival performs with most of the seats occupied. This vehicle has capable step-off power and steady acceleration. The engine never once struggled while the transmission compliantly adjusted gears for the moment. The long wheelbase and available 19-inch tires combine for a soft ride. We give this model high marks for its tight turning radius. Just be aware that body roll is common on twisty roads. You’ll also want to hit the brakes while cornering. The Carnival fulfills its mission and is a noticeable improvement over the outgoing Sedona.
Dealer inventories are lean everywhere as the global semiconductor chip shortage limits product availability. While the Kia Telluride crossover is difficult to find and comes with high markups, the Carnival may be easier to acquire. We recommend working with your dealer to order one. Choose the EX edition and your cost should come in around $40,000. Expect few discounts, but you should receive more cash for your trade.
See Also — Good-Bye, Kia Optima; Hello K5!
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