You can’t beat the minivan for hauling friends and family, but they are somehow missing out on the “cool” factor, which must be why crossovers have become the norm. Starting with the 2022 model year, Kia hopes to change that and is trying something different for its largest vehicle. The previous Sedona minivan is gone, replaced by the 2022 Kia Carnival, which the company has dubbed an MPV or multi-purpose vehicle. The name isn’t all that’s changed; the exterior gives it an SUV-ish appearance with boxy styling and a more aggressive front-end, but most people will view the Carnival as a minivan thanks to its dual sliding doors and excellent carrying capabilities. Even if Kia near Rio Rancho, NM is hoping to lose the minivan moniker, the 2022 Carnival is an outstanding minivan!
The Carnival has a unibody frame that ensures a smooth ride, built on the same platform as the Kia K5 sedan and the Sorento SUV. Dressing up that frame is a more squared-off look that we like better than the past look of the more rounded Sedona, and there’s also a flat hood which gives the Carnival more of a crossover appearance than a minivan. The new take on the Kia tiger-nose grille, a kind of “digital” tiger look, is also a change that we love.
Naturally, there’s loads of space inside. And depending on which edition you choose; the Carnival can be equipped with seating for up to eight. The third-row seat is a 60/40 split and can be manually folded into the floor. The Carnival will give you a whopping 145 cubic feet of cargo space when those are folded, and the second-row seats are removed. Otherwise, you’ll have 40.2 cubic feet of space behind the third row when all seats are up. Unfortunately, the second-row seats don’t fold away into the floor, but they easily slide fore and aft to give passengers more room.
If you don’t need eight seats, the VIP lounge seats are a must. Lounge seats are a great term because it’s like being in your living room, thanks to the fully reclining function with power footrests. The VIP lounge seats come with heating and ventilation as well.
Even passengers riding in third row have a generous amount of head and legroom; compared to three-row crossovers, the Carnival’s third row is cavernous! And no matter which row you’re sitting in, you’ll find USB ports to connect all your devices.
The 2022 Carnival comes equipped with an 8-inch touchscreen that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The higher trim levels have a larger 12.3-inch display, and all models have an attractive dashboard made with high-quality materials. Kia’s infotainment system is user-friendly, with beautiful graphics, giving the Carnival a more modern look and feel than its rivals.
There’s an available cabin intercom and camera system, making communication a snap with passengers in the way back. And all the expected driver-assist tech is included for you too.
A 3.5-liter V6 can be found under the hood, delivering a nice 290 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. An 8-speed automatic transmission is paired with it, which provides smooth and lively shifts, and acceleration is strong. The Carnival feels nimbler than you’d expect from a minivan, but the suspension is a bit soft because, well, it really is a minivan!
Fuel consumption is rated at 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, and 22 mpg combined. This puts it about the same as the Honda Odyssey and the non-hybrid Chrysler Pacifica. If you want better fuel efficiency, you’ll need to try the more expensive hybrid Toyota Sienna or the plug-in hybrid Pacifica.
The 2022 Kia Carnival comes in four trim levels: LX, EX, SX, and SX Prestige. The base model LX starts at $33,555 MSRP, including destination fees. If you want the top-of-the-line SX Prestige, you’ll only put out around $46,000 – much less than the competitors’ top trims.
Come over to Fiesta Kia near Rio Rancho, NM to get a closer look at all the Carnival trims and take one for a test drive. We’re located just a short drive down the road at 7400 Lomas Blvd NE in Albuquerque, New Mexico.