Crossover & Midsize

Is Minivan Life a Party in the 2022 Kia Carnival?

Although they’re extremely practical, minivans have a stigma about them in the US. It’s such a prevalent phenomenon that Kia technically doesn’t call the 2022 Carnival a minivan. Instead, the Korean automaker refers to it as a “multi-purpose vehicle.” But marketing terms don’t matter to the families that might buy one. What matters is if it’s a good vehicle. So, what’s the 2022 Kia Carnival like?

Kia says ‘sayonara’ to the Sedona with the stylish 2022 Carnival

A blue 2022 Kia Carnival parked by some desert mountains
2022 Kia Carnival | Kia

Styling is one of the biggest reasons why people buy SUVs over minivans. That’s why, when Kia designed the 2022 Carnival, which replaces the Sedona, it tried to give the minivan “SUV-like proportions,” Car and Driver reports. Whether or not it succeeded in that regard is a matter of debate. But what isn’t up for debate is how sleek it looks inside and out.

Still, no matter how much style a car has, it needs the substance to back it up. That especially applies to minivans. And in terms of features, the 2022 Kia Carnival certainly delivers.

The rear 3/4 view of a blue 2022 Kia Carnival parked by some desert mountains
2022 Kia Carnival rear 3/4 | Kia

Each 2022 Kia Carnival comes with the same powertrain, Car and Driver reports. Under the hood is a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 290 hp and 262 lb-ft linked to an eight-speed automatic. That power goes exclusively to the front wheels; the Carnival lacks an AWD option. But even so, the Kia minivan can tow up to 3500 pounds. And, on paper, it’s slightly more fuel-efficient than the outgoing Sedona.

The 2022 Kia Carnival starts with the $32,100 LX trim and tops out with the $46,100 SX Prestige trim. If you want features like leather upholstery, a Bose audio system, and reclining second-row seats with heating, ventilation, and pop-out footrests, you’ll have to spring for the SX Prestige, Car and Driver and Roadshow report. But even the LX comes with an 8” central touchscreen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, and sensors that remind you of rear occupants.

The brown-leather front seats and black dashboard of a 2022 Kia Carnival SX Prestige
2022 Kia Carnival SX Prestige front interior | Kia

For the best value, Car and Driver recommends the $37,600 2022 Kia Carnival EX. This trim replaces the 8” touchscreen with a 12.3” one and a 12.3” digital gauge cluster. It also adds adaptive cruise control, navigation, wireless phone charging, and heated front seats. Plus, the Carnival EX has six USB outlets, power-sliding doors, and seating for eight.

The 2022 Kia Carnival “is an excellent modern minivan,” MotorTrend says

Naturally, the appeal of a car’s design is a subjective matter. But the 2022 Kia Carnival “definitely looks unlike the competition,” Autoblog reports. Still, no matter how much the automaker calls it an MPV, it’s a minivan. A rather excellent one, MotorTrend reports.

The downside of going with the SX Prestige is that you can’t remove the second-row seats, Roadshow reports. But considering how comfortable and relaxing they are, especially when they’re folded out, that might not be a drawback for some. Those reclining leather seats turn the Kia Carnival into “a fairly luxurious shuttle,” Roadshow reports. The effect is further enhanced with the dual-screen rear entertainment package, which is optional on lower trims.

RELATED: Mercedes Once Offered a 500-HP Minivan

But even if you do go for a lower trim, the 2022 Kia Carnival makes for a great minivan. It has more cargo space than the Sedona and a flat load floor, Automobile reports. And if you remove the second-row seats and fold the third row down, the Carnival has more cargo space than any other minivan, Roadshow reports. Plus, more overall passenger space.

Plus, the 2022 Kia Carnival drives surprisingly well, MT reports. Its V6 makes more power and torque than its minivan rivals and its transmission shifts very smoothly. Plus, despite having a plush and comfortable ride, the Carnival has little-to-no body roll. And its lane-keeping and adaptive cruise control “are among the best in the business,” MT reports.

What still needs work?

That being said, the 2022 Kia Carnival isn’t perfect.

A dark-colored 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle minivan parked outside a large shingled home
2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle | Stellantis

RELATED: The Kia Carnival is Coming to Dethrone the Toyota Sienna

For one, unlike some of its rivals, it doesn’t offer AWD. And there’s no hybrid powertrain, either. So, although the Kia Carnival is reasonably efficient, the Sienna Hybrid is significantly more so, Autoblog reports.

Secondly, while the Carnival’s second-row seats are removable—apart from the ones in the SX Prestige—they don’t fold flat. If you need that capability, Automobile recommends going with the Chrysler Pacifica instead.

RELATED: The 2016 Kia Sedona’s Infotainment Screen Is Embarrassingly Small

Also, the Kia Carnival doesn’t offer a WiFi hotspot. Plus, its capacitive-touch controls can be difficult to use without taking your eyes off the road, MT reports.

But are any of these things deal-breakers? Not necessarily. The Carnival isn’t the only minivan that lacks AWD, for example. And depending on your lifestyle, the lack of folding second-row seats might not be an issue. All in all, the 2022 Kia Carnival “is a damn good minivan,” Roadshow reports. And for families, that’s something worth celebrating.

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