Kia is out of the minivan business. The unpopular Sedona is gone, supplanted by the 2022 Kia Carnival, which is billed as a multipurpose vehicle, or MPV for short. The South Korean automaker is trying to fill a vaguely defined white space with this product, which happens to be a tall and boxy machine with three rows of seats, cavernous interior space and a sliding door on each side.
The 2022 Carnival is built on Kia’s third-generation N3 platform, which underpins other vehicles like the Sorento SUV and avant-garde K5 sedan. Giving it noticeably sturdier styling than the old Sedona, which was rounded in comparison, the Carnival features a modernized version of the brand’s signature tiger-nose grille, complete with distinctive sculpting and tasteful brightwork.
For a more rugged look, the wheel arches are accentuated, plus the hood is higher and flatter than what you will find on other minivans.
Thanks to these design attributes, the Carnival looks more robust than its rivals, particularly the billowy Chrysler Pacifica. But there’s only so much you can do with visual sleight-of-hand. This Kia is still undeniably a minivan, as evinced by its imposing two-box form. Size-wise, the Carnival is in lockstep with competitors - its 121.7-inch wheelbase may be the longest of the bunch, but it’s just 0.1 inches greater than the Chrysler’s. At 203 inches from grille to liftgate, it’s an inch or two shorter than its rivals, with the Honda Odyssey being the longest of the group (if only just).
That generous size gives the Carnival plenty of interior space. Behind its 60/40-split third-row seat, which manually folds into the floor, you get 40.2 cubic feet of storage space. Behind the second-row chairs it provides 86.9 cubic feet so you get up to 145.1 cubes to play with, more than in all but the voluminous Odyssey.
Aside from capaciousness, comfort is another one of the Carnival’s strong suits in this midrange EX model. The Slide-Flex second-row chairs are plenty comfortable and supportive. Ensuring passengers have access to power, USB ports are integrated into the front seatbacks. The Carnival’s third-row seat is accommodating with plenty of space too, even for lanky adults. As with the second row, passengers in steerage have access to a pair of USB ports.
Spacious and comfortable, the Carnival’s interior is stylish and well built. The dashboard is simple and cleanly laid out.
The climate controls, which are partly comprised of physical switches and touch-sensitive buttons, are clearly labeled and easy to operate. Aside from there being a little too much piano-black trim, the materials used are of high quality, everything is assembled with painstaking precision and nothing is loose or otherwise cheap feeling.
The Carnival is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that belts out 290 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. This Kia has a few more horses in its stable than the Pacifica and Odyssey, but unexpectedly, all three of these minivans have an identical amount of torque.
The Carnival’s engine is quiet and smooth, the little tingles produced by all V6s are well attenuated, with little vibration being felt inside. Acceleration is good, the van pulling well when you punch it, a performance aided by the super-responsive eight-speed automatic transmission.
As gearboxes go, this one is perfect: imperceptibly smooth, quick-witted and eager to downshift when you need more oomph. What more could you ask for?
The Kia Carnival holds eight adults in absolute comfort, and has been designed with the modern family in mind. The Carnival comes in four grades - S, Si, SLi and Platinum – each with a choice of 3.3-litre naturally aspirated V6 petrol or 2.2-litre four cylinder turbo-diesel power