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With a name like Carnival, it has to be fun, right? The 2023 Kia Carnival might try to pass as an SUV with its design and Kia’s genius marketing branding it an MPV. However, don’t misunderstand, as the Carnival is all minivan, with sliding doors, three rows of seating, and a super spacious cabin.

As the redesigned and renamed Kia Sedona, consumers are expected to love everything about this family hauler. However, before you buy your 2023 Kia Carnival, you’ll want to consider the various trim levels, each bringing a host of additional features. Today, we’ll dive in and find that sweet spot of value and amenities to outline the best trim level.

Five trims from which to choose your Kia Carnival

A gray 2023 Kia Carnival minivan/MPV parked on a trail near the ocean at sunset
2023 Kia Carnival | Kia America

When you first start looking into the specs and features of the 2023 Kia Carnival, you’ll notice there are five trims, each packaging additional bundles of extras. As Kia describes, you can choose from the LX starting at $32,900, the LX Seat Package starting at $34,900, the EX starting at $38,400, the SX starting at $41,600, and the SX Prestige starting at $46,000. Every version of the Carnival comes with the 3.5-liter V6 engine, achieving 290 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque.

The base model LX comes stacked with plenty to love, including power-sliding rear doors, seven-passenger seating, heated exterior mirrors, sliding and removable captain’s chairs in the second row, reclining third row, an 8-inch touchscreen, and USB ports across all three rows. The LX Seat Package is more of an add-on than a package, but it bumps up the seating capacity to eight and adds simulated leather upholstery and heated front seats. Additionally, there are loads of standard safety features you’ll need in a family hauler, like the driver attention warning system, rear seat monitors, pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warnings, and safe exit assist feature.

The 2023 Kia Carnival trim you might like best

Looking beyond the base model Kia Carnival, the EX brings all the elements of the LX Seat Package but adds a hands-free liftgate, 19-inch alloy wheels, and an upgraded interior trim. It also brings second and third-row sunshades, satellite radio, a 12-inch touchscreen, navigation, wireless smartphone charging, and triple-zone climate control. The features families might love the most include Quiet Mode, which turns off rear speakers in case of sleeping passengers, an interior camera, and an interior intercom system. These features make the most sense to everyday families, and the EX is the sweet spot of trims you might like the best.

Choosing the SX trim should be left for those who want a sportier feel for their minivans. It adds a dual-screen entertainment system, surround-view camera, and ventilated front seats. Bump up to the luxurious side of the 2023 Kia Carnival with the SX Prestige, and you’ll enjoy authentic leather, heated and cooled second-row seats, a 12-speaker Bose system, and dual power sunroofs. Sure, those extras are nice. However, if you’re not confident in spending more than $40,000, stick with the EX as the best trim level adding the most value for the price.

What trim the industry reviews say is the best

Car and Driver says the 2023 Kia Carnival’s best version is the EX, citing the convenient upgrades that are worth every penny. Autotrader also endorses the EX trim as the best value for most drivers. Since all trims come with the essentials you need in safety and performance, it boils down to which comfort and convenience amenities you deem most important when choosing your trim. Still, if you value the opinions of third-party industry critics, the EX is the best way to go.

The 2023 Kia Carnival is a fun introduction to the Kia lineup, offering several trims to help you configure your best variation. However, if you’re still unsure, the best trim in terms of value and added features, according to most, is the EX.


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