Does the 2023 Kia Carnival Offer More Utility Than the 2023 Kia Telluride?

Kia improved the Telluride SUV for 2023. But it still doesn’t offer the utility that the Kia Carnival does. The “U” should stand for utility in a sport utility vehicle, and if it’s utility you’re looking for, a Carnival could be the winner in a Kia Carnival vs. Telluride comparison. Other than a few convenience options and slightly different pricing, the 2023 Carnival is the same as the 2022 version.

Carnival vs. Telluride? It may come down to styling

2023 blue carnival on a mountain road
2023 Kia Carnival | Kia

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We get it, minivans aren’t exactly cool. But take a look at the Carnival. It’s not exactly a van, nor is it really an SUV. Kia calls it an MPV. The Carnival was all new for 2022 and replaced the Sedona minivan. Like the retired Ford Flex, its styling splits the difference between a minivan and an SUV. It doesn’t pretend to have off-road ability it doesn’t. Instead, it’s a large eight-passenger, front-wheel drive, people hauler that can be well optioned.

But, in a Carnival vs. Telluride comparison for styling, the Telluride looks cooler, especially the updated version. The spec sheet is the same for 2023, but Kia updated everything else for 2023. The Telluride gets a new look front and rear, and new interior packages, and it still holds up to eight passengers. It also can be ordered in sporty X-Line and X-Pro trim that give it some off-road ability.  

Is the Kia Telluride or Carnival better?

Front view of blue 2023 Kia Telluride
2023 Kia Telluride | Kia

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Both vehicles have the same smooth V6 that puts out about 290 horsepower. They both offer Kia’s Drive Wise advanced driver aids. Both vehicles have high driver’s seats so you can see over traffic. They both can be ordered in basic LX trim that provides a lot of value, or SX trims that have every convenience you’d expect. They’re also designed to haul families and offer rear-seat entertainment, as well as second-row captain’s chairs optional.

The 2023 Carnival gets 18 mpg in the city, and 26 mpg on the highway. The Telluride gets 20 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway, but all-wheel drive saps a bit from that.

The 2023 Carnival shines with a huge cargo hold

2023 Carnival holding stuff int eh back
2023 Carnival interior | Kia

If you’re making Home Depot runs, and you’re considering a Carnival vs. Telluride, the Carnival holds a stupefying amount of cargo. Yes, that’s a full sheet of plywood in the picture. With the seats folded flat into the floor, it holds 145.1 cubic feet of stuff. That’s as much as many truck beds. The Telluride holds just 87 cubic feet of stuff with the rear seats folded, and a bit more behind the front seats. The main difference is that the Carnival’s seats fold flat into the floor allowing you to pack in more stuff.

For most of us, the Carnival’s 3,500-pound towing capacity is enough. For the rest of us, the Telluride can tow 5,500 pounds.

Carnival vs. Telluride: what’s new in 2023?

A blue Kia Telluride in a parking lot.
2023 Telluride | Kia

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The Telluride got a major update for 2023. The front and rear have new styling and the instruments inside are now all digital, with two 12.3-inch screens. Navigation is standard. All-wheel drive is optional. The Carnival is a carry-over for 2023.

How much is a 2023 Kia Carnival?

Rear angle view of blue 2023 Kia Carnival, highlighting its release date and price
2023 Kia Carnival | Kia

The 2023 Kia Carnival comes in four trim options, LX, EX, SX and SX Prestige. The LX starts at $32,600, the EX at $38,100 and SX at $41,300. The top dog SX Prestige is a premium $45,700 package that in addition to the leather, heated seats, and more of the SX package adds a rear-seat entertainment package, extra carpet and trim pieces, and most importantly, second-row heated and ventilated “VIP lounge seats” that have a built-in ottoman.

Kia didn’t yet release the price information for the 2023 Telluride. But we’re expecting a price increase. The 2022 Telluride ranges from $33,090 in LX trim up to $42,990 for the SX. The new 2023 Telluride should appear at dealers this fall.

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