Changing the Game
Over the past decade Kia has made great strides in every aspect. Their vehicles are more powerful, more capable, more reliable, and more comfortable than ever before. All of that rings true for the 2022 Carnival.
2022 Kia Carnival
Worldwide Kia’s minivan has been known as the Carnival for years, but now Kia is bringing that nameplate to the United States. With the name change, Kia has taken the opportunity to revamp the design of the minivan which they call an MPV or Multi-Purpose Vehicle.
We had more people asking about the Carnival than just about any other vehicle we’ve tested. In a world where SUVs are becoming more like crossovers and crossovers are becoming more like minivans, the Carnival has gone the other way. Many people on the street didn’t realize that the carnival is a minivan, when asking us about that new vehicle we were driving.
The biggest factor in giving the 2022 Carnival a crossover type look is the longer looking, more horizontal hood line. Adding to that is an aggressive grill and front clip, which work together in hiding the minivan inside.
Moving down the side, the Carnival has a Telluride kind of boxy look. However, the sliding doors and low ride height are obvious and a dead giveaway that this is a minivan, not a pseudo off-roader like the Telluride.
The C-pillar has an interesting chrome fish scale diamond pattern, which doesn’t show up anywhere else. It looks good, but out of place. The rest of the minivan has blacked out trim all around the glass to give the floating roof look.
From the rear, the Carnival is obviously not a crossover. The hatch is massive and has a clear minivan shape. The styling is modern and sleek, but it doesn’t hide the minivan underneath.
Up top there is a roof rack that runs nearly the full length of the roof. While our tester had no cross members, having the roof rack from the factory provides for plenty of mounting options for future upgrades.
Inside the 2022 Carnival
Matching the rest of Kia’s updated lineup, the 2022 Carnival has an modern high end interior. The two tone black and tan leather looks and feels top tier.
As expected in today’s world, the steering wheel houses a plethora of controls for audio, hands free functions, adaptive cruise control, and the gauge cluster screen.
To the left of the steering wheel are additional controls for the active lane keep assist and traction control. Below that are the buttons for the power doors and rear hatch.
Having a 12.3-inch infotainment screen allows for plenty of space to have a split screen view. Kia has an interesting take on this by allowing the screen to be split roughly 70/30, not 50/50. This way the driver can put the more pertinent information on the larger section and still have a smaller section for other desired content.
A passenger view camera and Passenger Talk intercom system can be controlled through the infotainment screen as well. Both of these features make it easy to connect with, and keep an eye on, the 3rd row passengers. Great for those with kids.
The seating is upright and comfortable. Climbing in and out is easy with the seats being at an optimal height for ingress and egress. The front seats are heated and ventilated for added comfort. Our particular test model had seating for 8. The middle seat of the middle row can be easily removed for quick access to the third row.
Up front there are 3 usb ports and a wireless charging pad to keep all the devices charged. For the middle row there are two outlets, a 115-volt outlet and a 12-volt outlet. Also for the second row on each of the front seat backs there is a USB port to charge devices and connect to the screens. In the third row there is one additional USB port on each side near the cup holder armrests.
Cargo area behind the 3rd row seats is quite large and deep. Fold the rear seats down and some of that depth is lost, but a massive flat load floor is presented. On the left side there are two storage areas with the lower one having an almost secret compartment hidden below it.
On the right side there is an additional 115-volt outlet and a 12-volt outlet as well. The jack and tire repair tools are stored just below the rear power outlets. There is no spare tire, but there is a kit for repairing a damaged tire.
Driving: A Sports Van?
Immediately upon driving the 2022 Carnival it is clear that Kia has focused on good driving characteristics. Minivans have improved greatly in recent years, but Kia has gone a step further. Boasting best in class horsepower and torque, and a best in class 0-60 mph time of 7.3 seconds.
When empty the ride is just a touch stiff. However, we imagine that most of the time a minivan will have gear or additional people in it, which helps smooth out the slightly stiff springs.
Around town the Carnival handles road imperfections well and is easy to maneuver and park. The only real downside is the very sensitive throttle off the line which makes it hard to accelerate smoothly. This is mostly remedied by using the eco drive mode.
On the open road is where the Carnival really shines. Cruising is smooth and controlled with plenty of power for passing slowering moving vehicles or climbing steep grades while maintaining speed.
An unexpected performance feature is the neutral steering through tight curves. We pushed the Carnival to its traction limits and found that steering remains neutral, even when slightly on the throttle. We fully expected it to have significant understeer and were pleasantly surprised by how well it handles.
Our test model was a 2022 Kia Carnival SX with a base price of $41,100. It came with only one option, the upgraded ceramic silver paint for $495. Add in the $1,175 destination charge and the total comes to $42,770.
Where Does the 2022 Carnival Stand
With the most appealing style in its class, the Kia Carnival drew looks and questions from more onlookers than any other minivan we’ve tested. Backing up those looks are the top driving dynamics in the minivan segment. However, interior utility isn’t as good as the Chrysler Pacifica and the fuel economy is below the Toyota Sienna. Unlike the Pacifica and Sienna the Carnival falls in line with the Honda Odyssey by only offering front-wheel-drive.
A minivan for those who hate the look and driving dynamics of a traditional minivan, but need or want the utility minivans have to offer.
Matthew Barnes is an experienced towing expert. He works as a mechanical engineer and his day job involves testing a variety of vehicles while towing trailers of all types and sizes. Matt shares his knowledge by writing for automotive news outlets in the evenings. When he’s not working he can be found spending time in the great outdoors with his family. He enjoys camping, hiking, canyoneering, and backpacking. Whenever possible he spends time riding in or on any power sports vehicle he can find and claims he can drive anything with a motor, which probably isn’t true.