2022 Kia Carnival first drive review: A luxurious minivan with SUV style

Victoria D. Doty

Spacious and adaptable, approachable and safe and sound — the minivan is a marvel of suburban utility. The trouble is that most persons do not in fact want to be found driving a person, so quite a few purchasers skew towards cooler-looking SUVs. To battle this, the main players in the course have pushed minivan design in a route that’s perhaps greatest described as “sci-fi bullet prepare” with mixed results.

Kia’s solution to the trouble of uncool perception is to dress its new 2022 Carnival “multipurpose car” in SUV cosplay. The result is a minivan that offers all of the benefits and amenities of its classmates, although standing aesthetically aside with activity utility design and style.

The Carnival wears an upright, boxy design with a entrance end shaped more like Kia’s Telluride than the Sedona it replaces. Information like the L-shaped, chrome C-pillars break up the minivan’s profile and, along with the sculpted wheel arches and dark reduce sills, assist pull the eye upward to make the visual appearance of a taller, more rugged trip. At 1st look, the Carnival appears to be just about exactly like a total-dimensions SUV from most angles, but then you detect the reversed handles and tracks for the sliding doorways and, abruptly, the minivan-ness of the silhouette gets to be obvious.

The Carnival is the 1st Kia to use what I have taken to contacting the brand’s new “K-backwards-N” emblem.


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VIP seating

The Carnival’s power sliding doorways open to reveal a spacious interior that’s accessible in seven- or 8-passenger configurations. The conventional 8-seat setup characteristics a forty/twenty/forty-split 2nd-row bench with a heart portion that can fold about to make a desk-like armrest for the outboard seats. The bench can also slide considerably adequate ahead enabling entrance seat passengers to simply attain a motor vehicle seat. The 2nd row can also be wholly removed when you need to have to accessibility the Carnival’s optimum a hundred forty five.1 cubic feet of cargo potential.

Update from the foundation LX to an EX or SX design and the fabric upholstery is replaced with synthetic leather-based. Move up to the top spec SX Prestige for actual leather-based trim and a pair of power-adjustable VIP seats in spot of the 2nd-row bench. These deluxe buckets immediately recline or return upright at the contact of a button, and they function heated and cooled surfaces and can even deploy footrests for optimum rest. The Prestige setup elevates the Carnival from a nicely appointed spouse and children hauler to a rather deluxe shuttle with more passenger space, more cargo potential and less difficult entry than a taller SUV can offer you. With the third row folded flat, I can slide the VIP seats considerably adequate back for a total recline and leg extension, even with the entrance seats in a at ease driving posture. Check out executing that in an Escalade.

Kia’s minivan is not the only a person to offer you reclining captain’s chairs, but these are a contact more luxe than most.


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The seven-seat SX Prestige is not without its compromises, having said that. The nonremovable VIP seats mean this trim maxes out at 86.9 cubes of cargo potential behind the 2nd row, and acquiring to the third row is more of a squeeze.

Speaking of that conventional third row, there is certainly lots of legroom back there for two ordinary-dimensions grownups, and adequate shoulder space for 3 little ones. Pulling a strap speedily folds the sixty/forty split bench flat into the Carnival’s flooring and a one pull lifts it back up, leaving a continue to-remarkable forty.two cubic feet for cargo.

On the selections listing, you will uncover Kia’s smart power tailgate, which immediately opens the hatch when you strategy the rear of the car with the crucial in your pocket. I normally uncover this function really aggravating, but Kia need to have enhanced its detection logic from before programs. I seasoned just about no fake-good accidental openings in the course of my testing, and the tailgate now immediately closes when you wander absent, making loading groceries or other cargo a definitely palms-cost-free system.

Backseat tech

The Carnival can be outfitted with a dual-screen rear seat entertainment setup. Every characteristics USB and HDMI inputs that can be shared with the other display screen. Every can join to a telephone or Wi-Fi hotspot to power applications like Netflix or mirror a smartphone’s display screen. There’s also a colourful Kid Mode interface that serves up youngster-welcoming content. Bluetooth connectivity will allow people to pay attention utilizing just about any headphones they by now possess, fairly than relying on minimal-high quality pack-ins.

The Passenger Digital camera and Passenger Communicate characteristics assist the driver to observe and talk with occupants in the 2nd and third rows.


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An optional broad-angle Passenger Digital camera on the Carnival’s ceiling displays a bird’s-eye see of 2nd and third rows on the multimedia screen, comprehensive with evening eyesight. This improve works perfectly in tandem with the Passenger Communicate function that amplifies the driver’s voice about the Carnival’s speakers, so they do not have to shout to speak to individuals in the third row. 

When outfitted with the optional Passenger Voice Recognition tech, 2nd-row passengers can also challenge commands to the dashboard UVO method. This is valuable for acquiring destination ideas from grownups in the VIP seats, but is also defeatable when you need to have to hold a van total of young children from requesting Child Shark for the fifty-leventh time.

Entrance seat tech

Up entrance, Kia’s latest-generation UVO infotainment lives in the dashboard. An eight-inch display screen is conventional, but EX, SX and SX Prestige products all improve to a 12.3-inch display screen. Possibly way, Android Automobile and Apple CarPlay connectivity are also conventional with USB — but not wi-fi — connectivity. UVO packs its intuitive interface with exclusive characteristics like voice memo recording, Sounds of Nature (like relaxed waves, a forest or bustling cafe) and a peaceful method that boundaries media volume and disables the rear speakers — useful for when little ones are dozing in the back.

The customizable star shortcut button on the dashboard — a modest function that you will uncover on Kia’s other UVO techniques — is joined by a 2nd customizable button on the steering wheel, enabling motorists to map characteristics like the Passenger Digital camera or Passenger Communicate to a one push.

There are up to 9 USB ports (seven are conventional) for charging cellular equipment distribute throughout the Carnival’s 3 rows.


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LX, EX and SX trims all function conventional bodily gauges and a modest 4.3-inch information and facts display screen. The SX Prestige updates to a 12.3-inch absolutely digital instrument cluster with 4 person-selectable themes, which includes a dynamic setting that alterations along with the time of day. The digital cluster also integrates Kia’s Blind Place Watch function, displaying a digital camera feed of the adjacent lane when the corresponding convert signal is activated. 

DriveWise basic safety suite

Kia’s DriveWise superior driver-support method suite is conventional on all Carnival products. That receives you entrance, rear and lane-modify collision detection, ahead computerized crisis braking with pedestrian detection, lane-trying to keep support, blind-location checking and a rear digital camera. DriveWise also rolls in driver interest checking and a sonar-primarily based rear occupant alert that prevents unintentionally leaving a youngster or pet in the parked car.

The EX trim adds park distance warnings, increased collision avoidance that can also detect cyclists and Highway Driving Assistant, Kia’s umbrella technological innovation that rolls in navigation-primarily based adaptive cruise management that works in prevent-and-go website traffic and increased lane-trying to keep steering support. Upgrading to SX delivers a encompass see digital camera method on the net. Ultimately, the total-excess fat SX Prestige completes the basic safety suite with the aforementioned blind-location digital camera tech.

Overall performance and effectiveness

The only powertrain presented in the 2022 Carnival is a 3.five-liter V6 paired with an 8-pace computerized transmission and entrance-wheel generate. Irrespective of looking like an SUV, all-wheel generate is not an option. On the vibrant facet, 290 horsepower imbues the Carny with very very good hustle for a minivan, and the 262 pound-feet of torque is adequate twist to tow up to a 3,500-pound trailer.

Handling is soft, but at ease. The Carnival is not the most sleek dancer on a twisty street, but the minivan manages to continue to be off of its possess toes perfectly adequate that it feels safe and sound. The steering is responsive, but entire body roll and understeer are obvious at pace. This is, of system, good. Irrespective of Toyota’s internet marketing for the new Sienna, I do not imagine that anybody searching for a minivan is looking for “activity-tuned managing.” More importantly, the Carnival does a great job absorbing bumps with poise and communicating its boundaries to the driver perfectly and early adequate to continue to be out of issues.

The EPA estimates 19 miles per gallon town, 26 mpg freeway or 22 mpg mixed from the 2022 Carnival. That is on par with other entrance-generate, V6-powered minivans in this course. The various generate modes — Normal, Eco, Wise and Sport — will have some influence on the Kia’s overall performance and effectiveness harmony, but about the system of 3 days, testing equally the SX and SX Prestige trim concentrations in a selection of circumstances, my ordinary of 21.7 mpg was just about location-on with these estimates.

Kia’s betting that the Carnival will uncover a household in the grey space involving minivans and SUVs.


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Pricing and levels of competition

The 2022 Kia Carnival begins at $33,275 (which includes its $1,175 destination demand) for the foundation LX design and tops out at $47,275 for the absolutely loaded SX Prestige. Increase $200 for flooring mats and $495 for the quality Astra Blue paint to attain an as-analyzed price tag of $47,970. I only ever want to be picked up from the airport in a Carny with VIP seating from now on, but for people looking to increase space for persons and cargo, the sweet location is the 8-passenger SX design commencing at $forty two,275.

The Carnival is priced and appointed competitively towards the Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. Nonetheless, Chrysler and Toyota offer you all-wheel generate, hybrid and plug-in hybrid configurations that raise the price tag ceiling but also bring substantial overall performance and gasoline economy benefits. Also think about that the Carnival’s activity-utility design and style has the opportunity to tempt a couple of people on the fence absent from a new SUV purchase, so a person could make the circumstance for it currently being an oblique competitor to one thing like Kia’s possess Telluride as perfectly.

Kia can contact it an MPV and design and style it like an SUV, but what matters is that the Carnival is a damn very good minivan. Kia’s designers have pulled off this stylistic double-take with aplomb. With the 2022 Carnival arriving in dealerships now, the automaker can only hope that purchasers imagine it is as amazing as I do.

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