Kia’s quest to reinvent itself has produced some excellent entries, with the Telluride full-size SUV and the Seltos CUV being the latest nuggets of success for the Korean car brand. But amid all of this newfound success resided one prominent stalwart, the Kia Sedona minivan. Designed to compete with segment leaders like the Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Odyssey, and the Toyota Sienna, the Sedona initially promised to wow buyers with equipment and features. But with the surge in SUV and CUV demand, the Sedona has morphed into an afterthought. That’s about to change, though, with the introduction of the 2022 Kia Carnival, which aims to bring Kia’s lone minivan entry back into the spotlight.
Festive Moniker Adds International Flair
While the Carnival nameplate is new to the U.S. market, it will be very familiar to those that have traveled overseas with the moniker being used across the pond for a very long time. This iteration of the Carnival aims to do a better job luring in SUV buyers, and it does so with styling that is much more utility-focused than the Sedona ever was. The front fascia is much bolder and prominent than before and features a front grille that looks like a larger version of the one found in the smaller Seltos. The headlights are also much crisper, and the profile is more SUV than the typical square box that’s a minivan mainstay.
As you work your way towards the rear of the van, you’ll discover that the design is much more cohesive and eliminates some of the frumpiness that defined the Sedona. A floating roofline is a key Carnival trademark, but Kia designers have added some textured elements to help provide a modern twist on this long-running trend. The rear styling is a bit slab-sided, but we appreciate the thin LED taillights as well as the reworked rear bumper, which further boosts the Carnival’s attempts to be more like an SUV. The lights are very reminiscent of what we have seen on the Aviator, but we’ll reserve our final judgment until we have the chance to see it in person.
Advanced Interior Doubles Down On Luxury
The interior of the 2022 Kia Carnival follows many of the company’s core design cues, with the van featuring a wide dashboard and a healthy infusion of horizontal elements. Technology is also a strong focus in the Carnival, with a digital instrument cluster and a bigger infotainment screen serving as prominent conversation starters. Both of these 12.3-inch screens are a welcome update over Sedona’s dated hardware. Lower trim Carnivals reflect their budget roots and will come with analog gauges and a smaller 8.0-inch screen.
A broad center console helps improve storage and further builds on the Carnival’s attempts to be a CUV. Unfortunately, that also means the Carnival does not have the handy front pass through that has become a trademark for other minivans though we suspect most folks won’t mind its absence. The cabin is also much larger than the Sedona’s, and while Kia chose not to breakdown everything, we know that international versions can haul up to 145.1 cubic feet of stuff, and passengers have 168.2 cubic feet of space to stretch out.
A prominent feature is found in the second row of SX Prestige models, with the second-row bench being pitched for two “VIP Lounge” seats. As the name implies, the non-removable seats are power-operated and actually come with deployable leg rests. Recline them all the way back, and they do a perfect impression of a La-Z-Boy recliner. The seats themselves are mounted slightly inward, which helps maximize seat width and comfort.
The Carnival also comes with other tricks, including a sliding position for the second-row bench, dual rear entertainment screens with built-in Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and even a night vision rear seat camera to help parents keep an eye on the kids during night time driving.
Carnival Brings V6 To The Carpool Lane
With Kia aiming to steal SUV buyers with the Carnival, it’s rather interesting to see that the Carnival will arrive in the U.S. with only one engine. The engine in question is a 3.6 liter naturally aspirated V6 that’s good for 290 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. Power is routed to only the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. The lack of all-wheel drive is a very interesting omission since the Chrysler Pacifica and the Toyota Sienna both offer all-wheel drive, and the tech has proven popular with consumers in certain regions.
That said, the engine and transmission are carried over from the Telluride SUV, which is welcome news, especially for buyers looking to move on from the Sedona’s wimpy 3.3 liter V6. The Carnival can tow up to 3,500 lbs which keeps it from towing formal RVs but should allow the van to tow a wide array of toys, including a small boat or even a few dirt bikes. The Carnival also benefits from an all-new N3 architecture that uses extensive amounts of hot-stamped and ultra-strength steel. The result is a platform that is super strong but without any noticeable weight gain.
When Can I Buy A 2022 Kia Carnival
Buyers looking to have their figurative corn dog and funnel cake at their local Kia dealer will be pleased to hear that the first Carnivals will begin rolling out to U.S. dealerships this spring. Pricing information has not been released, but look for the Carnival to not stray too far from the Sedona’s pricing ladder, which sits between $30,000 to $41,000.
All Carnivals will come equipped with an enviable list of safety features. They include automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision alert, lane-keep assist, and Highway Driving Assist.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.