Kia has retired the Sedona minivan and replaced it with the all-new Carnival for 2022. Kia calls the Carnival an MPV, for multi-purpose vehicle, likely to avoid the stigma unfairly attached to minivans in the past. Nevertheless, Carnival probably will find itself alongside minivans when motor vehicles are grouped into categories.
To be fair, Kia seems justified in avoiding minivan nomenclature for the Carnival, based on looks alone. The viewing angle most often used to identify a minivan is a bland profile, but Carnival’s profile strikes a dramatic pose. Copying the boxy look of current Kia SUVs, Carnival’s corners are squared off. Large wheels, prominent wheel arches and the brand’s signature tiger-nose grille with blended daytime running lights contribute to the Carnival’s SUV-like demeanor.
Interior design around the driver and front seat passenger reflects SUV influence, as well. Specifically, an upscale SUV.
The “main cabin” area draws from the important contributions of minivans: ease of entry and exit, and tremendous versatility. Power sliding doors on both sides and a power liftgate can be operated in several different ways including push button, key fob and hands-free. Seating for seven or eight passengers across three rows of seats can be configured in a gazillion different ways for occupants or cargo or a mix of both.
Interior dimensions are 168.2 cubic feet of overall passenger space, and 145.1 cubic feet of cargo space behind the first row. According to Kia, those numbers are best-in-class.
One great little feature inside the Carnival, almost capable of being overlooked, is secondary power adjustment buttons for the front passenger seat. They’re located on the side of the seatback, facing the driver’s seat, making it a cinch for the driver to move the passenger seat forward or backward to accommodate a second-row passenger.
The 2022 Kia Carnival is available in four trim levels: LX, EX, SX, and SX-Prestige. A 3.5-liter V6 engine provides power for the whole bunch, producing 290 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. It shares duties with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Every Carnival model has front-wheel drive.
EPA fuel economy ratings are 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, and 22 mpg combined.
Including a $1,175 destination charge, pricing for the LX starts at $33,275. Next up is the EX, $38,775; then the SX, $42,275; and finally the SX-Prestige, $47,275.
When called upon, the powertrain’s burst of rapid acceleration impressed me. It must be noted that during the test days, the Carnival only had to carry me, my purse, a few books, some mail and the tote bag full of tote bags I keep on hand for grocery shopping. A cabin full of people or lots of cargo would curb some enthusiasm, but Carnival’s power would still be acceptably energetic.
Carnival’s maximum towing capacity is 3,500 pounds.
Tooling along on Snohomish County zigzag roads, Carnival kept its cool pretty well. On the highway, Carnival was gold, one of the smoothest and quietest rides around, and without feeling floaty.
The base LX trim has an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system and the other models come standard with a 12.3-inch touchscreen setup. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are included with both systems. Navigation and SiriusXM satellite radio are standard with the larger display screen. On the industry standard Lowry Rating Scale of Infotainment Systems, which ranges from Hellish to Heavenly, the Carnival system falls between Purgatory and Heaven. That’s considered quite favorable.
2022 Kia Carnival SX
Base price, including destination charge: $42,275
Price as driven: $42,770
Mary Lowry is a member of the Motor Press Guild and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. She lives in Snohomish County. Vehicles are provided by automotive manufacturers as a one-week loan for evaluation purposes only. Manufacturers do not control content of the reviews.