2022 Kia Carnival

2022 Kia Carnival
2022 Kia Carnival Rear Angle View 1
2022 Kia Carnival Driver Area
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2022 Kia Carnival Test Drive Review: The Camouflage Minivan

by Jake Lingeman

The Kia Carnival is the South Korean brand's new minivan, but Kia's new people hauler looks more like a rugged SUV. And that's exactly what the company was going for. Its marketing specialists found that people love the space of a minivan, and the driving dynamics, but there's a certain segment of the US population that just can't cross that bridge to become a minivan owner.

That's obviously silly, minivans are not only more useful than anything south of a pickup truck, but entrants to the segment like the Honda Odyssey and Chrysler Pacifica now look cool too. But not as cool as the Carnival, which was built from the ground up to fool the haters. Even its commercials feature cool young people doing cool adventurous things. There isn't a child in sight.

But a good minivan needs to be more than just stylish. To that end, the Kia Carnival brings a new 3.5-liter, 290-horsepower V6 to the party to do the heavy lifting, it boasts seating capacity for eight, and has a massively versatile cabin with sliding and removable second-row seats. It packs the latest Kia Drive Wise safety tech too which means that, in theory, this could be the perfect all-rounder. The only things missing are available all-wheel drive and a hybrid variant, but Kia sent us a Carnival to review to see if these factors are even relevant to most buyers in the USA.

Read in this review:

9.2
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What’s New For The Kia Carnival?

The 2022 Kia Carnival is an all-new arrival and takes over from the outgoing Sedona. It's one of the more masculine-looking minivans in the segment, an attribute that could serve it well against rivals like the Chrysler Pacifica. The Carnival is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 290 hp, making it more powerful than the 276-hp 3.3-liter V6 that was used in the Sedona. It rides on the same N3 platform that's used by models like the new Sorento SUV and K5 sedan. Similarly wide to the Sedona, the Carnival does, however, have a longer wheelbase and body.

Minivans are all about versatility and the Carnival does not disappoint. It can seat up to eight occupants and, depending on the configuration, offers second-row VIP lounge seating. With 145.1 cubic feet of space behind the first row, there is plenty of space. A much more advanced van than the Sedona, the Carnival is offered with technologies like a blind-spot view monitor, cyclist detection, navigation-based smart cruise control, a surround-view monitor, a digital instrument cluster, and wireless phone charging.

Pros and Cons

  • The most stylish minivan around?
  • Smooth ride
  • Strong acceleration for a large minivan
  • Excellent cabin materials
  • All three rows offer spacious seating
  • Well-priced
  • Only one powertrain
  • No AWD option
  • Available lounge seats not as great as they look
  • Cargo space beaten by key rivals

Best Deals on 2022 Kia Carnival

2022 Kia Carnival Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
LX
3.5L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$32,300
LXS
3.5L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$34,300
EX
3.5L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$37,800
SX
3.5L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$41,300
SX Prestige
3.5L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$46,300
See All 2022 Kia Carnival Trims and Specs

2022 Carnival Exterior

2022 Kia Carnival Front View CarBuzz 2022 Kia Carnival Rear View CarBuzz 2022 Kia Carnival Front Angle View CarBuzz
2022 Kia Carnival Front View
2022 Kia Carnival Rear View
2022 Kia Carnival Front Angle View
See All 2022 Kia Carnival Exterior Photos

Dimensions

  • Length 203.0 in
  • Wheelbase 121.7 in
  • Height 68.5 in
  • Max Width 78.5 in
  • Curb Weight 4,376.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

  • Snow White Pearl +$495
  • Aurora Black +$495
  • Ceramic Silver +$495
  • Astra Blue +$495
  • Flare Red
  • Deep Chroma Blue
  • Pantera Metal
  • Silky Silver

2022 Carnival Performance

2022 Kia Carnival Rear Angle View CarBuzz 2022 Kia Carnival Central Console CarBuzz 2022 Kia Carnival Engine Bay KIA
2022 Kia Carnival Rear Angle View
2022 Kia Carnival Central Console
2022 Kia Carnival Engine Bay

Engine and Transmission

  • Engine
    3.5L V6 Gas
  • Transmission
    8-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrain
    FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

From the pilot's chair, the Carnival feels cavernous. Look in the rearview and there's about 15 feet of space before you get to the back window. For a second we thought it might handle like the full-size-SUV it's pretending to be. But it doesn't. The Carnival has a small turning radius, allowing us to make three-pointers without knocking over mailboxes.

The 3.5-liter V6 is strong with 290 hp. It bests the Pacifica by three, the Sienna's new hybrid powertrain by 45 and the Odyssey by ten ponies. That makes it best in class. The Smartstream 3.5 is a new powerplant, and also sees work in the company's bigger vehicles like the new K8 and the Sorento.

It's both smooth and quiet in the Carnival with an eight-speed transmission. And like most of Kia's other products, the minivan has drive modes for all situations. Sport mode sharpens things up across the board. The throttle is more sensitive and the gears hang on longer before shifts. It doesn't sound half bad at full tilt either. Eco brings everything down and shifts come earlier. Normal and smart adapt to your driving style, but we'll remind you that this is a minivan, and it's not going to feel "sporty" using the common definition.

The steering is soft and easy, which makes those three-point turns snappy, but it did feel more direct than we were expecting.

We used the adaptive cruise control often, with the lane keeping and centering on as we took a few-hour round-trip jaunt. The Carnival still bounces between the lines a little, though so far the only company to eliminate that ping pong effect to a comfortable degree has been Cadillac. It feels especially weird when pulling up to a stop, when it makes minor adjustments until the last second.

2022 Carnival Interior

2022 Kia Carnival Dashboard CarBuzz 2022 Kia Carnival Steering Wheel CarBuzz 2022 Kia Carnival Central Control Panel CarBuzz
2022 Kia Carnival Dashboard
2022 Kia Carnival Steering Wheel
2022 Kia Carnival Central Control Panel
See All 2022 Kia Carnival Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

  • Seating capacity
    7-seater
  • Front Leg Room 41.1 in
  • Front Head Room 40.9 in
  • Rear Leg Room 40.5 in
  • Rear Head Room 39.5 in

2022 Carnival Trunk and Cargo Space

2022 Kia Carnival Armrest CarBuzz 2022 Kia Carnival Trunk Space CarBuzz 2022 Kia Carnival Trunk Space with Third Row Folded CarBuzz
2022 Kia Carnival Armrest
2022 Kia Carnival Trunk Space
2022 Kia Carnival Trunk Space with Third Row Folded

2022 Carnival Safety and Reliability

Warranty

  • Basic:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    10 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    5 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles

US NHTSA Crash Test Result

NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.

Verdict: Is the 2022 Kia Carnival A Good car?

If you weren't already on the "minivans are cool" bandwagon, the 2022 Carnival MPV should be the tipping point. Kia's design team is on a roll and this MPV - if you don't want to use the other term - blows everything else away. But only if you want rugged. If you want elegant, we'd say the Pacifica is the way to go.

The powertrains of all the main players are close enough to be a wash, this is a minivan after all, but only the Toyota Sienna and Pacifica offer all-wheel drive or hybrid power plants. We'll also note that the Sienna is hybrid-only and has a combined mpg of 36.

This is the first year of the Carnival, which is always a bit dicey, but from what we've seen this is a winner. Its starting price is $32,100, making it the second cheapest above the Honda Odyssey's price of $32,090, barely. The Pacifica is the most expensive in the group, starting at $35,820. Like all Kias, the Carnival is great value. And now it just became the toughest-looking minivan on the market.

2022 Kia Carnival Comparisons

Kia Telluride CarBuzz
Toyota Sienna CarBuzz
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Kia Carnival290 hp19/26 mpg$33,600
Kia Telluride 291 hp20/26 mpg$36,190
Toyota Sienna 245 hp36/36 mpg$37,685

2022 Kia Carnival vs Kia Telluride

Kia designed its 2022 Carnival minivan to look more like an SUV, so how does it measure up against an actual crossover SUV like the company's hot-selling Telluride? At the time of writing, the 2022 Telluride hadn't yet been announced, but it shouldn't be vastly different from the still-fresh 2021 model. Starting at $32,190, the Telluride has almost exactly the same starting price as the Carnival. The Telluride can also seat eight occupants but the Carnival provides much more space - the latter has over four inches of extra legroom in the third row and nearly double the amount of cargo space behind the third row. In terms of versatility, the Carnival can't be beaten. However, the Telluride is still a more butch-looking vehicle, offers the option of AWD, and has a higher towing capacity of 5,000 pounds. It all depends on your needs, but both the Telluride and Carnival are superb family vehicles. If, like most, you'll be spending more time on the road than off it, the Carnival is a smarter buy, and now no longer looks like you aren't as cool as the crossover gang.

See Kia Telluride Review

2022 Kia Carnival vs Toyota Sienna

Toyota introduced an all-new Sienna for the 2021 model year and it has impressed us with its efficient hybrid powertrain, spacious interior, and smarter looks. The Carnival's V6 is more powerful, sounds better, and ensures more potent acceleration, but the Sienna's hybrid is unbeaten for efficiency - it returns a combined 36 mpg in FWD guise. Unlike the Kia, the Toyota can be specified with an AWD system. The base Sienna is a bit better-equipped as it comes with three-zone climate control, a power driver's seat, and a power liftgate; then again, it's more expensive than the Carnival LX. The Kia fights back with more cargo space regardless of whether the rear seats are upright or folded, and the Korean van's cabin does come across as a bit posher on its upper trims. We prefer the stylish and well-rounded Carnival overall, but the Sienna's efficiency and available AWD system could tempt shoppers away from the Kia.

See Toyota Sienna Review

2022 Kia Carnival Video Reviews

Check out some informative Kia Carnival video reviews below.

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