Recently, Kia made it known that 2021 would be the final year for its Kia Sedona – a fairly popular minivan that offers solid performance and reliability. As the minivan market has been almost completely obliterated by the desire for SUVs, this isn’t entirely surprising. However, Kia has not abandoned minivan fans out there, as they’ve revealed the replacement for the Sedona: the all-new 2022 Kia Carnival. And while that name is certainly something, the Carnival’s actual specs and info are quite impressive.
Kia might be doing its best not to call it a “minivan” since they’re referring to it as a Multi-Purpose Vehicle or MPV. But let’s be honest: it’s a minivan. Still, there’s no shame in that because this is definitely not the sort of thing that families would have piled into in the 1970s and 1980s – this is an excellent piece of machinery with some of the most impressive features I’ve seen in quite some time. So whether you want to call it an MPV, minivan, sorta-SUV, or anything else, it’s clear that Kia is offering something worth getting excited about.
Impressive Minivan Performance
The last thing I expected today was to sit here and talk about performance for a minivan; that’s not exactly what they’re known for. And yet, here we are with a new Kia model to look at, and it actually comes through with some very respectable performance. It’s not going to blow away a sports car or anything, but it definitely looks like it will be fun to drive.
The Kia Carnival has a 3.5L V6 engine that delivers 290 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque, which comes paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. It’s a solid engine that should make driving it quite a lot of fun – though so far, they’ve only shown the one. Considering there are numerous trims to choose from, I’m a bit surprised that there isn’t another, more powerful engine available to take performance up a level.
Similarly, front-wheel drive is standard, and from what I’ve seen, it’s the only option. With Kia putting so much energy into talking about its clear SUV inspiration and calling this an MPV so that people don’t think it’s just another minivan, it seems like a strange oversight not to have an option for a more powerful engine and all-wheel drive. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a strong start – and the Carnival even has up to 3,500 lbs of maximum towing capacity – but I’m surprised to see a lack of more robust, SUV-level performance.
A Spacious Minivan Interior
Despite my sense that a more powerful engine should be available, one thing I certainly can’t balk at is the size of this thing and the way it’s utilized. While there are clear areas where SUVs have informed the design of the new Kia Carnival, the interior layout and configuration clearly say “minivan” to me; and that’s for all the right reasons. I’m very curious to see if it gives some full-size SUVs out there a run for their money because if I had a growing family, I’d definitely be considering this model.
Inside the Kia Carnival, you’ll get an incredibly spacious interior that you can really use every last inch of. Although there’s plenty of room for loading up with cargo, it seems clear that the real focus here is on passenger comfort and space. Depending on the trim you’re looking at, the Carnival has seating for either seven or eight people: two seats in the front, either a three-person bench or pair of seats in the second row, and a three-person bench seat in the rear.
You get more than 40 inches of headroom in the front row, more than 39 inches of headroom in the second row, and more than 36 inches in the rear. Front-seat passengers get more than 41 inches of legroom, while people in the second row can have more than 40 inches of legroom, and rear-seat passengers can have more than 35 inches of legroom. Overall, it’s well laid out and configured to make sure everyone is comfy (perfect for long road trips when personal space gets very important). You get 40 cubic feet of rear cargo volume and more than 145 cubic feet of total available cargo volume behind the front seats.
Exciting Minivan Technology
Most people probably don’t think “exciting tech features” when you say the word “minivan,” but this is one area where the Kia Carnival looks to shine. Some of this stuff will be standard, and some offered only on higher trims, but the overall impression is excellent. Whether you just like having the latest tech or you have a car full of kids to keep entertained, the Carnival will have you covered.
The base LX trim includes a standard 8-inch infotainment display with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, plus a 6-speaker sound system. The LX also features numerous USB ports, steering wheel-mounted controls, and a 4-inch trip computer display for the driver. You even get features like a smart key with remote start, push-button start, and air conditioning in the front and rear. It has cloth seating, a 6-way adjustable driver’s seat, and sliding, folding, removable second-row seats.
Once you look at the highest trim, the SX Prestige, then things get very impressive. The SX Prestige features a pair of 12-inch displays: one for the infotainment system and one for the driver’s instrument cluster, along with a 12-speaker Bose premium audio system. This trim also includes a rear-seat entertainment system with two large screens to help keep passengers occupied, along with additional USB ports throughout the interior. It has tri-zone automatic temperature control to make sure everyone stays cozy, along with LED interior lighting, leather seating, a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with 2-way power lumbar, and an 8-way power-adjustable front passenger seat.
Great Minivan Safety Features
Kia is well known for its impressive safety features, and the 2022 Carnival looks to be no exception to this. Best of all, many of these features are standard on every model, with only a few options reserved for higher trims. So no matter what you’re looking for in your next minivan, the Kia Carnival will help keep you safe.
Standard features include Forward Collision Avoidance-Assist with Pedestrian Detection, Driver Attention Warning with Leading Vehicle Departure Alert, and Lane Departure Warning. It also has Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Following Assist, High Beam Assist, and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist. Rear Parking Distance Warning, Safe Exit Assist, and a comprehensive airbag system are all also standard.
Available safety features on the 2022 Kia Carnival include an additional Junction Turning function for the Forward Collision Avoidance-Assist, which helps with avoidance while turning. There is also a Blind View Monitor, Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist with Parallel Exit Assist, and a Surround View Monitor available on higher trims. Finally, forward Parking Distance Warning, Parking Collision-Avoidance Assist, and Highway Driving Assist are also available.
Taking the Minivan Further
As you can see, the Kia Carnival is going to be an amazing option if you’re interested in the functionality of a minivan but the styling and design of a modern SUV. The generous interior space and sleek sliding side door give you the versatility you need without screaming, “I’m here to pick up my kid from soccer practice.” The new Carnival is the perfect blend of style and function. I suppose that does, indeed, make it a multi-purpose vehicle.