Minivans are great for families, but for the most part they are missing the cool factor, which is why crossovers are the norm. Well Kia is trying something new with its people mover. The Sedona minivan is gone and is now replaced by the 2022 Kia Carnival, which Kia calls a multipurpose vehicle or MPV. The name is not the only change, since the Carnival attempts to look more like a three-row SUV with its boxy styling, but most buyers will still see the Carnival as a minivan with its sliding doors. Even if Kia is trying to lose the minivan stigma, the good news is that the Carnival is a great minivan.
The 2022 Carnival is based on the third-generation N3 platform, which means it shares its platform with the K5 sedan and Sorento SUV. We like the look of the Carnival compared to the more rounded Sedona with its more squared off styling and the new take on Kia’s tiger-nose grille. The flat hood also makes the Carnival look more like a crossover than a minivan, like the Chrysler Pacifica and Honda Odyssey.
As you would expect, there’s plenty of space inside and depending on which version you choose, you can equip it with up to eight seats. The Carnival’s third row seat is split 60/40 and can manually fold into the floor. Behind the third row there’s 40.2 cubic feet of cargo space, but that can be expanded to 145 cubic feet with the third row folded and the second row seats removed. The second row seats don’t fold into the floor like in the Chrysler, but they easily slide fore and aft. The VIP lounge seats are a must have if you don’t need eight seats, since the second row seats fully recline with power footrests. The VIP lounge seats also get heating and ventilation.
For passengers in the third row there’s a good amount of space and no matter which row you’re in, you get USB ports to connect your devices. Compared to three-row crossovers, the third row is cavernous with a good amount of headroom and legroom.
At the front there’s an attractive dashboard with high quality materials. The Carnival comes standard with an 8-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A larger 12.3-inch display is added to higher trim levels. The infotainment system is easy to use and its graphics looks great, giving the Carnival a more modern look and feel than the Honda Odyssey. There’s a cabin and intercom system so that the driver can communicate and keep an eye on the passengers in the back.
The Carnival is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that generates a nice 290 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque, that’s mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The engine sounds refined and acceleration is a strong point. The transmission also is lively and smooth. On the road the Carnival also feels more nimble than you’d expect, but it’s suspension is a bit too soft.
The Carnival is rated at 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined, which puts it on par with the non-plug-in Chrysler Pacifica and Honda Odyssey. If you want a more efficient minivan, you’ll want to look at the hybrid-only Toyota Sienna, which gets up to 36 mpg or the Pacific plug-in hybrid.
On the safety front, the Carnival comes standard with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitor, rear-cross traffic alert, lane-keeping assist, lane departure warning, automatic high beams and rear parking sensors. Adaptive cruise control is optional.
The 2022 Kia Carnival is available in four trim levels: LX, EX, SX and SX Prestige. The base LX starts at $33,555, including destination. The top SX Prestige will land you around $46k.
There aren’t that many minivan options now since everyone is obsessed with SUVs, but what we do have are all great options. The 2022 Carnival has what it needs to compete with the Odyssey, Pacifica and Sienna, thanks to its stylish exterior and spacious interior.