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The Kia Telluride rules over the midsize SUV segment with an iron fist. The Carnival is the South Korean automaker’s minivan model (despite the company’s insistence that it’s a “multi-purpose vehicle”). The Telluride and Carnival are similar in terms of performance specs. Is the Telluride overshadowing the Kia Carnival?

The Kia Telluride is a hit, but the Kia Carnival is flopping in comparison

It’s no secret that the Kia Telluride is a standout model in its lineup. The Telluride is one of Kia’s best-selling nameplates. The midsize SUV has dominated the competition in its segment since its arrival as a 2020 model year because of the value it provides for the money and its pleasant driving experience.

The Telluride is usually followed by its cousin, the Hyundai Palisade, in rankings. SUV models normally sell better than minivans, but the Telluride’s sales numbers make the Kia Carnival seem like a failure. The irony is that the Kia Carnival doesn’t have drastically different specs than the Telluride. In fact, the Carnival is even more affordable.

The 2023 Kia Telluride starts at $35,690. The 2023 Kia Carnival starts at $32,900. Both models use V6 engines that produce about 290 horsepower (291hp for the Telluride). The Telluride gets 20 miles per gallon in the city and 26 miles per gallon on the highway. Kia’s Carnival model gets 19 miles per gallon in the city and 26 miles per gallon on the highway.

The two Kia models share a long list of great standard safety and driver assistance features. The Telluride has better standard creature comforts and tech features like a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a 12.3-inch infotainment system.

The Kia Carnival isn’t for everyone

A blue 2023 Kia Carnival is parked outdoors.
The 2023 Kia Carnival | Kia

RELATED: 2022 Kia Telluride Review: Perfect for Errands and Escaping the City

So, the Kia Telluride and Kia Carnival have similar starting prices, a similar power output, and similar gas mileage. They’re so similar that consumers could even compare the two models when looking for a new family vehicle.

Ultimately the Telluride is the better buy because of better standard features. It may be more expensive than the Carnival, but Kia’s MPV(multi-purpose vehicle) lacks flair. Some of its coolest features are reserved for the SX Prestige final trim. Since both models offer eight-person seating capacities, most consumers will choose the Telluride over the Carnival.

Maneuverability may be a factor, as the Carnival is six inches longer than the Telluride. Dimensions aside, the Telluride is indisputably the more impactful Kia model, and the sales numbers prove it. Kia’s Carnival MPV is a great option in its segment, but drivers aren’t feeling vans as much as in previous years. SUVs like the Telluride take some responsibility.

Have vans become too boring for consumers?

Vans aren’t nearly as popular as SUVs, but that doesn’t mean automakers aren’t producing exciting minivan models. The Toyota Sienna is particularly interesting because it’s an affordable standard hybrid minivan with incredible fuel economy. It gets 36 miles per gallon combined and has an 18.0-gallon tank. The minivan can travel for 648 miles on a single tank of gas. Car and Driver praises its fuel efficiency and ride quality.

Automakers are constantly innovating and improving minivans. There’s still a market for vans, it just isn’t nearly as large as the market for midsize SUVs like the Kia Telluride.


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