The 2022 Kia Carnival is Kia’s brand-new minivan that wants to make you think it isn’t a minivan. And while the sheetmetal might make it look more like a Chevrolet Traverse from some angles, there’s no doubt that this big box still rides, drives and feels like a minivan from the inside. Still, the valiant effort from Kia designers to try and bring folks into the minivan segment by way of SUV-like exterior design is a smart one in a crossover-hungry world.
Kia also draws you in with a mountain of tech and potential for extremely cool features like the VIP Lounge second row and Mercedes-like wall of screens in the dash. The interior is slathered with piano black trim, haptic-touch buttons and beautiful patterned plastic (which does good work at imitating metal trim). It’s all far more upscale and luxurious than you’d expect from a minivan, and that’s exactly what Kia needed to do to compete against the sumptuously updated Chrysler Pacifica and the classy Toyota Sienna now on the market. All the glitter and glitz fall away with the Carnival’s powertrain, though, as Kia doesn’t offer any green options like its competition. If high fuel economy isn’t a priority, though, the Carnival deserves a place on your shortlist.
Interior & Technology | Passenger & Cargo Space | Performance & Fuel Economy
What it's like to drive | Pricing & Features | Crash ratings & safety features
What’s new for 2022?
The Carnival is an all-new model for 2022. It replaces the outgoing Sedona as Kia’s minivan offering.
What’s the interior and in-car technology like?
Inside, the Carnival is darn near palatial. In the top SX-Prestige trim, it features leather seating for seven occupants. The first and second rows are both heated and ventilated. That second row has a few party tricks, including the ability to slide the seats both fore-and-aft and side-to-side. These “VIP Lounge” seats also feature a one-touch button to put the chairs into “relaxation mode” — a deep reclined position complete with the deployment of leg rests. There are two power-sliding sunroofs to give a view of the sky, or you can enjoy videos on apps including Netflix or YouTube on the optional rear-seat entertainment system, with individual screens located on the front seat backs. The third row is not so bad either, with sunshades and a center armrest with cupholders. While many of these features are shared with other minivans (the Odyssey's side-to-side moving seats, the Pacifica's dual-screen infotainment system, the Sienna's second-row leg rests), none offer so many distinctive and upscale features in one place.
The SX Prestige trim also features a pair of 12.3-inch screens up front — a digital instrument cluster and an infotainment touchscreen, side by side in the same wide housing. The rest of the lineup gets analog gauges with a 4.2-inch TFT display between them and an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s also a wireless charger for your phone and multiple USB ports for each row of seating. The SX and SX-Prestige have 115-volt inverters — one on the back of the center console and one in the rear cargo area — for accessories with a standard two- or three-prong plug. A 12-speaker Bose audio system comes with the SX-Prestige for high-quality audio, too.
How big is the Carnival?
Buyers choose between seven-seat or eight-seat configurations like all the other minivans. Both front-seat space and second-row space is on par with the competition, and the VIP Lounge seats make it the most decadent minivan if you’re only carrying around four people. However, the Carnival has a smaller third row than its rivals. Legroom is just 35.6 inches, which is about 2 inches less than the next smallest, the Toyota Sienna, and 3 inches less than the Pacifica, which is the clear winner for full-house comfort. That third row is still plenty acceptable, but others are roomier.
Kia quotes the best cargo capacity in the business at 40.2 cubic feet behind the third row. Kia also (just barely) wins the overall interior space wars at 145.1 cubic feet, but the Odyssey is nearly tied. Unfortunately, you can’t have the VIP seats and all that cargo room, since those seats don’t fold flat, and they’re not removable either. Slide them forward, and you still have a large, flat space, but it’s a real utility downer compared to other minivans with more flexibility. If you need the space, skip the SX Prestige.
What are the Carnival’s fuel economy and performance specs?
Kia keeps it simple with the Carnival and only offers one powertrain configuration. It comes with a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 290 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. This is sent through an eight-speed automatic transmission to the front wheels. The Carnival has more horsepower than other minivans, but not by a wide margin.
Fuel economy is respectable at 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined. That’s right on par with the rest of the V6-powered minivans out there, but you can hop in a much more efficient and frugal option should you choose a Toyota Sienna or Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid.
What’s the Carnival like to drive?
Out on the road, the engine feels torquey, and is happy to spin the front wheels from a stop at full throttle. The engine sounds good, too, mostly quiet in normal running, but issuing a controlled growl under hard acceleration. The Carnival feels swift and never left us wanting when merging onto a busy expressway with a short on-ramp.
It steers confidently, with a nice weight building up in the tiller through corners. The suspension is slightly on the taut side, giving a good feel of the road, with the downside of transmitting more road noise into the cabin — it’s a big box, and it sounds like one. You can have more fun swinging it around than a comparable SUV, but the Sienna is still the best-handling minivan. Long highway trips are pleasant due to the Highway Drive Assist doing most the work for you, and the Bose audio system is great for masking the road noise that intrudes into the cabin. The Carnival will leave you feeling refreshed after covering a ton of ground, which is just what a minivan needs to do.
What other Kia Carnival reviews can I read?
Our first experience behind the wheel. We provide initial impressions and all the details about the van you might want to know.
If you like specs, here’s where you’ll find the Kia Carnival compared to all the other minivans.
What is the 2022 Carnival's price and what features are available?
Pricing for the 2022 Kia Carnival can be found below, broken down into the available trim levels of LX, EX, SX and SX-Prestige. All include the $1,175 destination charge.
For family duty hauling lots of folks around, both the LX and EX are great values. The LX includes many essentials, and the luxuries added by the EX are worth the extra coin. Notable features for the EX include 19-inch alloy wheels, rear sun shades, eight-passenger seating, leatherette seats, long-sliding rails for the rear seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a power liftgate, tri-zone climate control, and most important of all, many of Kia’s neat in-cabin tech features. These include the Cabin Camera (view of rear rows in the screen), Cabin Intercom, Quiet Mode (turns off rear speakers for sleeping occupants) and adaptive cruise control with Kia’s sublime Highway Drive Assist.
The SX-Prestige adds all of the high-class luxury features — the VIP seats are standard — but only go for this trim if maximum utility takes a back seat to maximum luxury.
You can find a full breakdown of features, specs and local pricing here on Autoblog.
What are the Carnival safety ratings and driver assistance features?
Most of the important features come standard on the 2022 Carnival. Driver assistance features on the base LX include forward collision avoidance (car and pedestrian), lane-keeping assist, blind spot warning w/collision avoidance, rear cross-traffic alert w/collision avoidance, rear parking sensors, rear occupant alert, and a “safe exit assist” feature that watches for cars approaching from the rear when exiting into a street. Stepping up to higher trims unlocks features such as forward collision avoidance for cyclists, front parking sensors and Highway Driving Assist. The SX-Prestige gets those epic Blind View Monitors that allow you to see your blind spots with the turn indicator on via a live video feed to the digital instrument cluster.
The 2022 Carnival had not been crash-tested by a third party at the time of this writing.
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