Kia is hoping you’ll celebrate the launch of its new minivan, but not call it that.
The 2022 Carnival replaces the Sedona in the lineup and Kia prefers to refer to it as multi-purpose vehicle so your kids aren’t mortified, I guess.
The 2022 Kia Carnival is called a multi-purpose vehicle
Unfortunately for them, the fact is that it’s about the same size as a Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna or Chrysler Pacifica/Voyager and has sliding doors and a deep cargo area behind its third row, so it is very much a minivan.
Its styling is boxier than any of those to give it more of an SUV look, however, and it has a pair of dashing chrome panels on the sides that act as shiny sideburns to add some unexpected flair.
Inside, the driver will appreciate a low window line that offers great forward visibility and a modern dashboard with dual widescreen digital displays for the instrument cluster and infotainment system. The center stack is filled with auxiliary controls, many of which are touchpads that continue the contemporary look, but are finickier to use than the traditional buttons they replace.
Despite matching up well on paper, the cabin feels a little snugger than the competition, especially in the third row. Prices range from $33,275 to $47,770 for the top of the line SX Prestige I tested that adds a pair of power reclining “VIP” second-row captain’s chairs that can be pushed inboard and back for maximum legroom if there’s no one seated behind. They don’t flip and fold like the standard seats, however, so passengers need to squeeze through the middle aisle to reach the waybacks.
A dual-screen rear entertainment system is also included that’s able to mirror what’s on a smartphone and stream live video from built-in apps like Netflix, Twitch and YouTube Kids.
Parents can keep an eye on things with via a rear seat video monitor with night vision and communicate through an intercom system that amplifies their voice. A motion-sensing detection system can also warn if you’ve left anyone behind in the vehicle and another can check for traffic and prevent the rear doors from opening until it passes by.
Getting into traffic is no problem with a 290 hp V6 that’s the strongest in this small class, outgunning the Chryslers by a whopping three hp. Its 22 mpg combined fuel economy rating also equals the Pacifica/Voyager’s and Odyssey’s, but falls short of the hybrid-only Sienna’s 36 mpg rating. It’s also only available with front-wheel-drive, but can tow up to 3,500 pounds.
The Carnival is based on the same platform as the Kia K5 sedan and Sorento SUV and definitely has better ride quality and handling that a traditional minivan, but still feels its size.
To help manage that, it gets the same range of electronic driver aids as Kia’s top SUV models, including a 360-degree parking camera, automatic emergency braking, blind spot video monitors that pop up in the instrument cluster and Kia’s Highway Driving Assistant, which holds the vehicle smack in the center of the lane, but requires a hand to remain on the wheel.
The Carnival may not be the party bus that its name implies, but it is dressed better than the rest and should make a pretty good entrance on the parental red carpet that is the school pickup line.
2022 Kia Carnival
Base price: $33,275
As tested: $47,770
Type: 7-8 passenger front-wheel-drive minivan
Engine: 3.5L V8
Power: 290 hp, 262 lb-ft
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
MPG: 19 city/26 hwy
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