by Jay Traugott
The Kia Sedona is gone. Meet the 2022 Kia Carnival, the South Korean automaker's fourth-generation minivan. The Carnival nameplate has been used globally since 1998 and now Kia has brought it to North America. It's also the first model to sport the brand's redesigned logo. And fortunately, the Carnival is everything Sedona owners love about their current minivans and so much more. Kia is calling the Carnival a Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV) and a "Grand Utility Vehicle" or GUV as part of an effort to attract crossover and SUV buyers, and the somewhat rugged styling reflects that.
Like all Kias, the new Carnival is packed with a host of standard features, while continuing the brand's upmarket quest with premium build materials and advanced driver-assist systems. Unlike many large crossovers, MPVs such as the Carnival have a more usable third-row seat that some adults can fit comfortably into. And Kia is adamant the Carnival is just as equally suitable for daily errands as it is for some weekend excursions.
Minivans typically have a more rounded appearance and look perfectly at home in mall parking lots. Kia wanted to change that perception with the 2022 Carnival with some SUV attitude. With the latest incarnation of the "tiger nose" grille flanked by LED headlights, the Carnival has crisp, strong lines throughout. Styled entirely at Kia's California studio, designers gave special attention to the hood with twin chiseled lines meeting at the top of the grille. Notice the enhanced wheel arches and the cutline running the entire length of the vehicle by connecting the front and rear lights.
For a more upscale appearance, there are two-tone side mirrors and black and chrome panel moldings, such as the C-pillar. The taillights have a cool geometric shape and they're connected to each other with a light strip. A rear skid plate and reflectors further enhance the SUV look. A set of 17-inch wheels are standard and 19-inch wheels in gloss black are optional.
While more rugged on the outside, the Carnival is sleek and modern inside. The dashboard and console are covered in high-gloss black surfacing and the integrated slim air vents are a nice touch. Three interior colors are offered. An 8-inch touchscreen display with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard, as is wireless smartphone charging, and 3-inch displays for navigation and the fully digital gauge cluster. A 12.3-inch navigation and fully-digital instrument cluster are optional. A Bose premium audio system with 12 speakers is also available, and passengers will enjoy up to nine USB ports spread out between the three rows plus two 110-volt power inverters.
Four trims are on offer: LX, ES, SX, and SX-Prestige. All have best-in-class passenger room (168.2 cubic feet) and, with the exception of SX-Prestige, segment-leading cargo space behind the first row (145.1 cubic feet). The third-row seats fold into the floor. With the removable second-bench seat, the Carnival can accommodate up to eight passengers. There's an optional second-row heated and ventilated "VIP Lounge Seating" setup featuring power controls, wing-out headrests, and leg extensions. Eight-passenger variants offer multiple configurations thanks to the sliding second row that also converts into a table.
Regardless of trim, all 2022 Carnivals come powered by a naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 with 290 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, replacing the Sedona's 276-hp 3.3-liter V6. Power is directed to the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. In addition to being more powerful, it's also more fuel-efficient with an EPA rating of 19/26/22 mpg city/highway, a 1 mpg improvement in the city and 2 mpg for the highway.
Kia claims a towing capacity of up to 3,500 pounds, the same as its segment rivals. The Carnival shares the same platform as the outgoing Sedona but engineers strengthened and stiffened it for improved driving dynamics.
A number of advanced driver assistance systems come standard, among them are Forward Collision-Avoidance, Blind-Spot Avoidance, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, and Lane Keeping Assist. Optional systems include Blind-Spot View Monitor, Highway Driver Assist, and Surround View Monitor.
Kia has not provided official pricing at this time but we don't expect it to greatly differ from that of the outgoing Sedona, which started at $30,400. Expect the 2022 Kia Carnival to arrive in dealerships this spring.
The minivan segment is certainly not as popular as it once was, but the surviving contenders are all excellent choices. They include the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Chrysler Pacifica, and the more budget-friendly Chrysler Voyager. Only the Sienna and Pacifica offer hybrid powertrains. But unlike any of those, only the Carnival has a more SUV-like styling attitude, hence the MPV moniker. The Sedona was a strong seller for Kia despite America's crossover addiction and the new Carnival MPV will no doubt pick up the mantle and, hopefully, attract new customers.