The 2022 Kia Carnival is proof that minivans can still have swagger and style. It used to be that a Minivan was the vehicle of last resort, but with chip shortages and the resultant shortage of new and used vehicles following the Covid outbreak, they have come into their own again.
Despite the new gain in popularity, Kia couldn’t leave good enough alone. The year 2021 signified the last hurrah for the brand’s Sedona minivan, which the new Carnival quickly replaced. To which we ask, where have you been all our minivan (gulp)-loving life?
What is the new Kia Carnival?
The 2022 Kia Carnival is all-new and replaces the Sedona minivan. Designed to bridge the gap between minivan and crossover, it features seating for up to eight passengers, depending on the configuration. Our tester was the 7-passenger Kia Carnival SX Prestige in Astra Blue with Tuscan Umber leather seating inside.
Power for the Carnival is delivered by a 3.5-liter direct-injection V6 making 290 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is currently not available. If you are so inclined, you may tow up to 3,500 pounds behind the Carnival.
The Carnival MPV (for Multi-Purpose Vehicle) shares a platform with its Kia K5 sibling. Engineered to be lighter but stronger and quieter than the outgoing Sedona, we say they have largely succeeded. The Carnival is a quiet vehicle, even when you decide to put your right foot into it.
One of the best-included features on the new Kia Carnival is the brand’s 10-year / 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
How does it look?
If we were to compare the new Kia Carnival MPV to any other on the road, and we were squinting from 75 feet away, we at Napleton News would suggest it looks like a low-riding Ford Explorer. It features a “longish” front end in the proverbial two-box design typical of most crossovers and SUVs. A, B and C pillars lend a sense of epic proportions to the vehicle. The Kia tiger face holds sway at the front, but honestly, we have never seen a tiger in that grille. Looking at the new Kia grille on the K5 and Carnival has us thinking shark instead. At the rear, a floating roofline carries on the feeling of modernity.
Dual sliding doors on both sides of the vehicle make entry and exit occur with ease. At the rear, a wrap-around lightbar jazzes up the liftgate, which is the first one to wear Kia’s new logo badging. By the way, that power liftgate rises by the sweep of a foot under the Carnival’s chrome rear skidplate.
How about inside the Carnival?
As good as this new Kia’s exterior is, the interior is where the Carnival really shines. Our SX-Prestige model featured a new, quieter interior thanks to an acoustically tuned windshield and front-side window glass. While the entry-level LX model can seat seven passengers with an option for an eighth, our top-line model featured a maximum of seven seats. Because of the tricky nature of the second-row power VIP lounge seats, their function prevents them from being removed. More on that in a minute. The third row folds flat into a well in the floor. The SX and SX-Prestige include a dual-screen dashboard with a pair of 12.3 inch-screens: one displays gauges while the other controls the infotainment system.
The top-shelf SX-Prestige offers over-the-top seating, making you think you are cruising eight inches off the ground in your corporate jet. Not really, but with the pair of heated and ventilated Tuscan Umber seats, you may as well be. They appear as though they were lifted directly from a Gulfstream G700 corporate jet.
In the normal configuration, they sit to the outside of the cabin, closer to the hands-free sliding side doors. This provides a pass-through to the third row. But wait, there’s more: Squeeze them together and then slide them rearward. The third row will be empty, but you can recline the seats and lift the leg rests for approximately 2-feet of legroom. Just lay back and fall asleep to the sounds of the Bose 12-speaker audio system.
Behind the wheel of the new Kia Carnival
With class-leading power under the hood, the new Kia Carnival is ready to go. Offering 290 real-world horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, it provides adequate power that will take you and up to seven passengers and 3,500 pounds of trailer weight wherever you want to go.
You will need to squeeze the skinny pedal to get the most from the Carnival’s V6 engine. That’s because its power band lies in the upper range, around 5,000 rpm. The steering is well controlled and not overly boosted, so it keeps everyone inside in tip-top shape.
The suspension is well designed and manages to absorb imperfections on the highway with no drama. And sitting as low as the Carnival does helps it corner with minimal body roll. It’s a very satisfying ride and one we dare say is well enjoyed from the second row VIP seating.