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Big Minivan or SUV? That is the question when you first see the Kia Carnival. The 2022 Kia Carnival is hard to tell what it is. While it wreaks of a modern minivan with its elongated breadbox shape. And this is one long vehicle. It does give the impression of being more like an SUV.
Kia’s designers are post-millennial men, to whom minivans are dinosaurs, though as active lifestyles, they also understand the versatility and useability of the van-style vehicle. The rugged SUV is more to their liking, and image, but, as they have growing families they need van-like space, but SUV energy. Thus, they have created
Looking at it from different angles, each one has a different vibe. The long slab sides with auto opening and closing doors, yell minivan, the front profile has more of a SUVesque appearance, while the enormous tailgate gives a whole new meaning to tailgating. In the up position, it looks more like a back porch, with its large hatch that works as a roof, and you can easily sit in the rear cargo area. Perfect for getting out and away from the elements. Closed, the rear is a large flat surface with good-size tail lamps and no fake exhaust ports or visible exhaust pipes at all
Inside the styling is classic Kia. A little clunky in places, a little flashy in others. Generally well done, roomy and spacious, as it should be for the overall size of the vehicle.
Front seats are living room style, large and comfortable that fit the American build. The driver’s 12.3-inch LCD digital instrument cluster display looks to extend across the top of the dash, though it is separate from the center display that controls radio navigation and other functions. Below that is a separate HVAC Controller and USB outlets, and below that is a large area with wireless charging for a mobile device, including one with a case.
Second-row seating in our test model had VIP Lounge seats that moved manually side to side, and back and forth including an electroinically controled extendable leg rest for those who wanted to lay back. Laying back in the 2nd row would then put the passenger in the lap of anyone in the 3rd row.
And yes, there is standard third-row seating for three. While two will be more comfortable, you can fit three tightly in the back. Though I found it a scramble to get back there for anyone but the most flexible younger person. And we know if you are transporting kids, they will horse around, so there is a rear view passenger monitor for the driver to watch both the 2nd and 3rd row, which projects on the center 12.3-inch infotainment screen. As well as a remote rear occupant communication set up, so the driver will not have to scream, “Hey Kids Knock It Off Back There.”
The Kia Carnival favors those two passengers in the 2nd row with the reclining lounge seats and HVAC Controls on the right roof. Plus, two separate rear entertainment tablet-like monitors are mounted on the rear of the front seats. They work with headphones or remote ear pods. USB outlets on the inward side of the backs of the front seats, as well as a 12v and a 3-prong 120v outlet in the back of the front center console.
The beauty of Carnival’s rear seat monitors is that you can feed two separate programs into them. While some rear seat monitors will only show one program on all screens. Making a kid who wants to watch sports and one who wants to watch cartoons, both happy on a long trip. In our case we streamed two of our favorite YouTube fees; Queer4Cars on one and The RealDCCarGuy on the other.
Cargo space is deep rather than long, the area behind the 3rd row is spacious, just not big enough if you were to carry gear for more than a couple of passengers. The 3rd row is a 70/30 split, one side can fold down away into the cargo bay, and there is still space for someone to sit on the other part. With the 3rd -row seats fold into the recess in the cargo area, that provides a flat cargo load floor. Though the 2nd row seats do fold forward they do not fold up or away, limiting long load floor length in the cargo area. Don’t worry there is plenty of cargo space back there with the 3rd row stowed away.
The Carnival has just about everything technological under the sun built in and much of it is part of the package that you choose. In our tester we had the SX Prestige with a $46,100 base price. That includes all the standard Kia safety features from surround view cameras to wireless phone chargers. And my personal favorite when you activate a turn signal your blind spot is shown on the dash board from one of the side cameras. Kia also has a parking distance warning, safe rear exit assist to lane keep assist smart cruise control with stop & go and parking collision avoidance assist and pedestrian detection. Which is useful when you are distracted by a car full of kids in a busy supermarket parking lot.
Minivans are dropping their six-cylinder powertrain options, not Kia. The Carnival has a 3.5 Liter gasoline direct injection V6 gasoline Engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transportation. If you want a six-cylinder powered minivan in today’s market, here you go, the Kia Carnival is your choice. If you are looking for high fuel economy, the Carnival is not bad, but it is not great with 19 city, 26 highway and 22 all around miles per gallon. This is a front-wheel drive vehicle there is not an AWD option now.
What’s Special about the Carnival
First, is that it is a Kia, which has proven to produce sturdy vehicles with timeless look and a lot of technology at an affordable price. The Carnival has all the tech you could ask for on a modern car. Lots, and I mean, lots of space to carry things. Ride and handling are fine for this style of vehicle. Overall drivability of the van is fine, don’t expect a sports car or an off roader.
The Carnival may not be the most fuel-efficient vehicle on the road, you can work your way in the mid to upper 20 miles per gallon region with a frugal driving style. The price tag is not outrageous for all you get in this large minivan. And while in my eyes it looks like minivan, it stands out in that sea of other minivans due to the Kia styling cues.
The Carnival is quite good for a large minivan (and that it is, large.) Would I buy one, it would surely be on my list of vehicles to consider if I were in the market for a van. Personally, I had considered a Sedona a few years back, it was to replace an aging cargo van. I did not take the plunge at the time. The Carnival is indeed the replacement for the Sedona, which has been discontinued. As a predecessor the Sedona was a pure van without any essence of an SUV. Check out the 2022 Kia Carnival at your Kia dealer, that is if they have any in stock. Like the tremendously successful Kia Telluride, the Carnival will sell as quickly as it comes on the dealer’s lot.