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The all-new 2022 Kia Carnival takes the design styling of an SUV and applies it to a minivan. If you’ve hated the standard look of a minivan for as long as so many others, the Carnival might be the one for you. The less rounded edges really take away from the look of minivans of years past. Some of the newer vehicles in this category have hit their stride in recent years. One of them being the 2022 Toyota Sienna, which will compete against the Carnival for this new model year. Car and Driver ranked the Sienna fifth and the Kia Carnival second overall in the minivan segment. Each has its advantages, but which of these stylish vans is the better option?

The all-new 2022 Kia Carnival

2022 Kia Carnival MPV
2022 Kia Carnival MPV | Kia

The Kia Carnival is new to the market but it’s not holding anything back. Right out of the gate, the Carnival is jumping into the high end of everyone’s yearly minivan rankings. The SUV-style look is the first thing that draws you in, but what else does the Carnival have? Firstly, a starting MSRP of $32,100 puts it lower than a lot of SUVs, and near the bottom of the minivan segment. Kia is coming out swinging with a great minivan at an affordable price.

Kia advertises its extensive testing, including extreme temperatures all over the globe. The Carnival MPV has been to the Alaskan tundra, Death Valley desert, and more. The temperatures have ranged from -40 degrees Fahrenheit to 130 degrees Fahrenheit, ensuring the Carnival is capable of operating in all conditions. That’s all great and interesting, but how many trims are there and what kind of technology is available in the Kia Carnival?

What does each Carnival trim add?

Kia Carnival interior photo featuring the rear entertainment system
2022 Kia Carnival Interior | KIA

The 2022 Kia Carnival has four different trim levels. The LX is the base trim and comes with a surprising amount of standard features. For the starting price of just North of $32,000, the Carnival LX includes blind-spot and rear cross-traffic collision avoidance, lane-keeping assist, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, an 8-inch touchscreen display, a smart key with push-button start, and more. For just a few thousand dollars extra, the LX Seat Package can be added and includes additional seating for up to 8 passengers, SynTex seating trim, heated front seats, and more.

The next step up is the EX trim level, which includes 19-inch wheels, UVO link with navigation, a smart power liftgate, navigation-based Smart Cruise Control, and a few smaller add-ons. The Carnival SX and SX Prestige are the highest trims and range from $41,000 to over $46,000. The countless amenities make the price hike seem worth it. A rear entertainment system, 19-inch black alloy wheels, ventilated front seats, memory driver’s seat, power outlets, fog lamps, and roof rails are all included before upgrading to the Prestige edition. The SX Prestige trim adds dual power sunroofs, blind view monitor, 12-speaker Bose premium audio, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, heated and ventilated second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, and more.

How does it compare to the 2022 Toyota Sienna?

A green 2022 Toyota Sienna minivan is parked in nature.
A green 2022 Toyota Sienna minivan is parked in nature | Toyota

The Sienna has an available hybrid engine, giving it a slight advantage over the Carnival. Kia’s offering only has a single motor option, the 3.5-liter V6. The Sienna’s gas mileage is better purely because of the available hybrid engine, which makes it capable of 36 city and highway mpg, compared to the Carnival’s 19 city / 26 highway. The two minivans are almost identical in size, the only difference is a .7-inch length advantage for the Sienna. Rear parking aid and remote engine start come standard on every Kia Carnival but are unavailable on the Sienna.

Both of these two minivans can seat 8 when equipped properly. A dual-screen rear entertainment system in the Carnival is rivaled by a single screen in the Sienna. The Carnival also does not have available all-wheel drive, and the Sienna does. Though the Sienna comes in at a higher starting price than the Carnival, it includes some seriously important features the Carnival can’t provide.

What’s new for the 2022 Toyota Sienna?

For the new model year, not a whole lot has changed. Toyota added the Woodland Edition model to the lineup, coming standard with all-wheel drive and a 0.6-inch lift kit. It also comes with off-roading and outdooring accessories for those adventurous owners. Featuring a roof rack, tow hitch, and a 1500-watt power outlet.

Car and Driver recommend the XSE trim, which comes in at $44,000. The standard navigation, 20-inch wheels, and more aggressive exterior design make it the middle-ground option most people will love. All-wheel drive can be added to this, and any other, Sienna trim for an additional $760.

There are fewer differences than you might’ve thought between the Carnival and the Sienna. One is a brand new vehicle with an original design and the other is a trusted minivan you know and love. Toyota’s offering didn’t change much for the new model year, so if a fresh vehicle is on your mind, the Carnival may be best. Kia’s minivan offering takes a lot out of the competition’s playbook and is certainly an excellent option. Toyota’s one big advantage is the hybrid option, giving you the gas mileage you’ve always wanted out of a spacious vehicle like this one.


Is Minivan Life a Party in the 2022 Kia Carnival?