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Car buying can be exciting, but there are many factors to consider, such as the cost of insurance, depreciation, and repairs. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) should be the most straightforward part of this process, but it’s not. The 2023 Kia Carnival is a prime example because, lately, it costs significantly more than its MSRP.

The MSRP can be misleading

2023 Kia Carnival MPV/minivan
2023 Kia Carnival MPV/minivan | Kia America

When checking sticker prices, you should know that you could pay more than expected. The law requires dealers to report the MSRP, but they aren’t required to sell you the vehicle for that price. Demand, a lack of parts, and other factors are driving up many vehicle prices, and consumers are still buying.

For many models, the price has increased by $2,297 in the past year, according to Consumer Reports. Some vehicles are selling for 20% over the MSRP. Kia and Hyundai are seeing the highest price increases.

Many of the vehicles on CR’s list are Kia models. For instance, the Kia Telluride, Seltos, and Rio are selling for 18% over the MSRP. And the 2023 Kia Carnival minivan is going for 20% over the MSRP. 

You might pay more for a 2023 Kia Carnival than it’s worth

The 2023 Kia Carnival’s MSRP is $33,100, according to Kia. However, Consumer Reports data shows buyers are paying an average of $9,033 over that price, meaning some new owners are shelling out $42,133. Further data shows the average transaction price is $55,033.

So, what do you get for the price?

The Carnival packs a V6 engine producing 290 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque, paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. In addition, the 2023 Carnival has a max towing capacity of 3,500 pounds and a max payload of 1,334 pounds.

The gas mileage is decent for a minivan, with an EPA-estimated 19 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway, and 22 mpg combined. 

And there’s plenty of safety equipment. Standard advanced driver-assistance features include blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, accident avoidance, lane-keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert, driver attention alert, pre-collision safety system, and post-collision systems.

In addition, the five-year/60,000-mile basic and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranties are hard to beat.

Overall, the 2023 Kia Carnival is an excellent vehicle, with Car and Driver rating it 9/10. Still, paying 20% over the MSRP is tough to swallow.

Here are some 2023 Kia Carnival alternatives

You won’t find many other new minivans thanks to SUVs’ growing popularity. But the 2023 Kia Carnival has a few rivals whose buyers haven’t paid significant markups lately. Alternatives are the Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey, and Chrysler Pacifica.

According to Edmunds, the 2023 Toyota Sienna has a total starting MSRP of $36,720, and buyers are paying $38,852 on average — 5.6% over MSRP — due to low supply. This minivan has an inline-four hybrid engine making 245 hp, paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission. But where the Sienna shines is its fuel economy: 36 mpg in the city and on the highway. Its Car and Driver rating is a solid 8/10.

Another Kia Carnival alternative is the 2023 Honda Odyssey. Edmunds reports that consumers are paying around $39,376 — 1.9% over the $38,635 MSRP. With a 280-hp V6 and a 10-speed automatic transmission, this minivan gets 19 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. And like the Carnival, the Odyssey earned 9/10 from Car and Driver.

Last, the 2023 Chrysler Pacifica starts at $38,615, but Edmunds reports customers are spending around $39,794 — 3% over MSRP. The Pacifica packs a 287-hp 3.6-liter V6 engine paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. EPA estimates are 19 mpg in the city and 28 on the highway, the same fuel economy as the Odyssey. And the Pacifica boasts a nearly perfect 9.5/10 Car and Driver rating.

Due to low supply, finding a good deal on most new vehicles is challenging right now. But these three minivans are attractive Kia Carnival alternatives with lower dealer markups.