A couple of weeks ago we speculated that the new version of Kia’s Sedona minivan would get a new name, and now it’s official—Kia’s new-for-2022 minivan will wear the Carnival badge used in other markets, including South Korea. Oh, and it’s not a minivan, it’s a multi-purpose vehicle. And to judge from its slick new appearance, primary among those multiple purposes is not to get mistaken for a minivan.
Picking up where the Sedona left off, the 2022 Kia Carnival further blurs the line between minivan and SUV. The Carnival’s elongated nose and bumper-to-dash-to-wheel ratio are distinctly SUV-like, as is the heavy chrome C-pillar treatment. The sliding-door tracks have been neatly integrated into the bodywork, and the whole concoction carries a cool Dodge Durango/Ford Explorer-ish vibe. Kia is to be congratulated: Few minivans—sorry, MPVs—carry off the pseudo-SUV look this well.
That said, it’s still essentially a minivan—a good thing when it comes to interior packaging. Up front, and like the Sedona that preceded it, the 2022 Kia Carnival has a broad center console housing the transmission shifter and cupholders, just as you’d find in an SUV, but behind the front seats, it has minivan-style seven- and eight-seat layouts and a low step-in height. The seven-seater features removable buckets, or optional VIP seats that recline private-jet style. Eight-seat Carnivals offer a three-place second row with seats that can be individually removed. The center seat can be folded down to form a table or slid far forward enough that front-seat passengers can attend to babies strapped into car seats. In the way-back, the three-place split rear bench can be made to disappear into a deep well in the floor, just as in any self-respecting minivan. With all second- and third-row seats removed (which can’t be done with VIP seating), the Carnival will hold a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood.
Let’s go back up front to check out the new dash, which features two 12.3-inch LCD panels, one for instruments and one for infotainment, integrated into a single handsome stand-up unit. The center stack is angled towards the driver (and surely whoever is relegated to the passenger seat isn’t going to like that much), and the controls are arranged in the same sensible layout we’ve come to know and love in other Kia models.
The list of family-friendly features in the 2022 Carnival is long, so take a deep breath: There are USB ports in every row, up to nine total, and twin 110-volt power outlets. There’s an optional low-light camera with zoom capability for monitoring the second and third rows and an intercom system facilitating conversation between front and rear rows. Second-row occupants get their own microphones and activation button for the UVO infotainment system’s voice-recognition system, and the available twin rear-screen entertainment system has wireless Android and Apple screen-mirroring capability.
Kia will sell the Carnival in LX, EX, SX, and SX Prestige trim levels, and all will feature dual hands-free power-sliding rear doors. An innovative Safe Exit Assist system warns rear-seat passengers against opening their doors when the car detects oncoming traffic, and when integrated with power child locks, the system will prevent the doors from opening. Also available is a rear occupant alert system. We’ve seen several of these gadgets that simply flash an easy-to-ignore reminder to check the rear seats every time you shut the vehicle off. But it’ll be harder to ignore the Carnival’s new system, which uses ultrasonic sensors to detect moving children or pets in the back seat. If you lock a living thing in the Sedona, it will flash the hazards, honk the horn, and send an alert to your mobile phone’s UVO app.
All of this family-totin’ goodness rides on the new N3 platform, which also underpins Kia’s Sorento SUV and K5 sedan. The 2022 Carnival offers a single powertrain consisting of a 290-hp, 262 lb-ft 3.5 liter V-6 driving the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. (That’s right, unlike the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica and the new Toyota Sienna, and in spite of its SUV-ish looks, the Kia doesn’t offer all-wheel-drive.) Towing capacity, if you’re into that sort of thing, is 3,500 lbs.
As we expect nowadays, the 2022 Kia Carnival has a host of ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance System) features as standard, including forward, rearward, and blind-spot collision avoidance, rear parking sensors, lane-keeping assistance, automatic high beams, and drowsy-driver detection. Optional upgrades include a blind-spot camera for lane changes (displayed in the instrument cluster), cyclist detection for the forward-collision system, adaptive cruise control that adjusts to speed limits and upcoming curves, and a 360-degree parking camera.
Ready to get MPV-ing? The 2022 Kia Carnival will arrive in dealerships in the second quarter of 2021 looking good but less weird than the extroverted Toyota Sienna, and blockier than the elegant (for a minivan) Chrysler Pacifica.
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