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There is a negative stigma among those who feel purchasing a minivan is the ultimate expression of giving up on the idea of ever being considered cool again, but recent sales figures show that mindset may be waning based on what we’re seeing from the Honda Odyssey and Kia Carnival. Or perhaps fewer buyers care about said stigma or don’t subscribe to it. This is underscored by recent surging sales among two models in the limited but hyper-competitive minivan market.

Honda Odyssey and Kia Carnival sales are surging

Minivan sales still pale compared to SUVs, but the Honda Odyssey and Kia Carnival are finding their way onto plenty more driveways as of late.

Sales of the Odyssey last month were up a staggering 128 percent over the model’s May 2022 figures, according to GoodCarBadCar. As such, Odyssey sales are up 90 percent through the first five months of the year versus 2022.

The Kia Carnival, the newest entrant into the minivan fray, is also picking up sales steam. The Carnival experienced an increase of 79.5 percent in year-over-year sales for the month of May. Like the Odyssey, Kia has nearly doubled its minivan sales from this time last year; Carnival sales are up 93 percent.

A more robust stock could certainly be helping Odyssey and Carnival sales as the supply chain is far more ample than it was in the early months of 2022. But with annual sales so far this year nearly double that of 2022 for both the Kia and Honda, it could underscore that more people are shaking their minivan stigma.

The Odyssey remains the sales champ against the Carnival so far

Sales of the Honda Odyssey and Kia Carnival are rising at similar rates compared to this time last year, but the Honda remains the outright sales leader of the two. Honda sold 7,011 Odyssey models during May while Carnival sales were 3,231, giving the Odyssey over a two-to-one sales advantage.

However, both models still trail the leader of the segment for overall sales by a significant margin. Chrysler sold nearly 29,000 Pacifica models during the first quarter of 2023 alone.

The Kia Carnival is a worthy challenger to the Honda Odyssey

The 2023 Honda Odyssey continues to be a solid choice among the four major players in the minivan segment, but in the ultra-competitive class, the 2023 Kia Carnival is another appealing choice.

Both models are powered by a V6 engine developing 280 hp in the Honda and 290 hp in the Kia, and each delivers an estimated 22 combined mpg.

The Odyssey’s strong suits are its comfortable overall demeanor and composed ride quality. Its Magic Seat system allows for midrow seats to slide forward, back, and side-to-side. Against the Carnival, the Odyssey is more spacious for passengers, with 38 inches of legroom in the back row compared to the Carnival’s 35.6 inches, and the Carnival’s second-row seats are fixed in place. Overall, the Honda Odyssey can be considered more user-friendly for hauling people, a notable advantage in a class aimed at moving a brood efficiently.  

The Carnival has the plus of being far more modern than the Odyssey. The Honda minivan’s latest generation hit the streets in 2018, whereas the Carnival was introduced for the 2022 model year. The Carnival also sports more SUV-like styling, which could help some buyers who aren’t exactly proud to put a minivan on their driveway. The 2023 Carnival offers a notably larger cargo area with 40 cubic feet of storage space behind the rear row to the Honda’s 32.8 cubic feet.

Perhaps the Kia Carnival’s biggest advantage is its price — it starts at $34,365, while the Odyssey commands $38,835.

Both can certainly be considered strong choices in the ultra-competitive minivan segment, and recent sales suggest that more buyers are taking notice of the two models.


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