The Kia Carnival Rewrites The Minivan Rulebook

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Think of it as an SUV but with the practicality of an MPV.

The Kia Carnival is not a minivan. We know it has three rows of seats, we know it has sliding doors and would be perfect for growing and grown families. But we defy you to find a mention of that word in any of the company's marketing materials.

It's an MPV, Kia says, a multipurpose vehicle in the vein of the Mazda version that was so well loved. Automakers talk about breaking segments all the time, but Kia is really doing it. Just look at its new EV6. Is it a hatchback? A crossover? A wagon? And we'll ask again, does it matter?

Rear Angle View KIA
Rear View Kia
Driving Front Angle Kia
Side View Kia

"The Carnival MPV defines a new vehicle segment - the multi-purpose vehicle: versatile, capable and comfortable, and provides owners what they need, when they need it," said Russell Wager, vice president, marketing, Kia Motors America. "It transforms from a sophisticated adventurer to a cavernous cargo hauler. And everything in between."

And we can see in the video, Kia isn't marketing this as a take-your-kids-to-soccer vehicle. There are no cuts of it being filled with lacrosse sticks or potted plants. The ad features a bunch of hip-looking millennials, doers, movers and shakers out on a Burning Man-style road trip. It's complete with motocross stunts, shots of the VIP reclining seats and a boat being towed. We also get a gratuitous shot of the blind spot cameras showing the bikers in the gauge cluster. We asked Kia if this was purposeful.

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"The Carnival MPV transcends the traditional minivan segment - appealing to millennials and empty-nesters - and it was important for Kia to illustrate this in our marketing efforts," said Wager to CarBuzz.

"We feel the multi-purpose element is lacking in the current segment and is the type of vehicle many buyers are actually looking for when shopping for the more traditional SUV," he continued. "Ease-of-use is a trait often overlooked by buyers of large SUVs, but the Carnival MPV provides an unexpected degree of utility combined with the popular 'go anywhere' spirit that has much wider appeal."

Second-Row Seats KIA
Backrest screens KIA
Dashboard KIA

"Take it wherever. With whoever. Load it up," the ad copy says. "Change it. Challenge it. Throw everything - and the kitchen sink - at it. Every time, the all-new Kia Carnival MPV comes back with one thing to say: 'What Else Ya Got?'"

Are minivans cool now? They've always been useful, but this new breed gets better by the minute.

We're driving the Kia Carnival as you read this so expect a full report soon. As a teaser, we can say we're already loving it, and the kids are digging the games and apps on the rear entertainment screens. We put a sheet of plywood in the back with the seats removed, and it did fit, barely.

The campaign will feature broadcast, digital and print elements, and you should start seeing them soon if you haven't already. Check out the first spot above.

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