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SUVs remain red hot, but those in the know are well aware minivans remain the ultimate family haulers. The newest contender in this shrinking but competitive segment is the Kia Carnival, replacing the Sedona beginning in 2022. The South Korean car brand has become synonymous with reliable, value-driven vehicles, and the 2024 Kia Carnival’s $33,200 base price looks like a bargain. But how much should you actually expect to pay to get the most desirable features and amenities?

Choosing a Carnival trim

2024 Kia Carnival price
2024 Kia Carnival | Kia

The 2024 Kia Carnival offers five trims: LX, LX Seat Package, EX, SX, and SX Prestige. Pricing starts at $33,200 for the LX base model. That MSRP is well below those of its rivals. The 2024 Honda Odyssey starts at $37,840, the Toyota Sienna at $37,185, and the Chrysler Pacifica at $38,425.

The Carnival’s price point is vital, considering minivan buyers almost always have larger families. And anyone who has raised little ones knows bringing up children seemingly costs more than the GDP of a small country.

Fortunately, the Carnival base model isn’t bare-bones. Kia’s minivan provides plentiful standard equipment.

The LX includes power-sliding rear doors, keyless entry and start, sliding and removable second-row captain’s chairs, and LED headlights. Infotainment tech includes an 8.0-inch touchscreen, a six-speaker sound system, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, and USB ports throughout the cabin. The base Carnival also has a suite of standard driver’s aids, such as automatic forward emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, and more.

Those who need to haul eight passengers can opt for the LX Seat Package. It has the same amenities as the base model but swaps out the second-row captain’s chairs for a three-person bench to increase seating capacity from seven to eight. The upgraded model, which costs $2,000 more than the standard LX, also includes heated front seats, an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, synthetic leather upholstery (versus cloth in the LX), and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.

Shopper focusing on affordability would sensibly keep their choice to one of these LX trims. However, moving up the scale can offer a lot more for not much more money.

Here’s how we’d spec the 2024 Kia Carnival

2024 Kia Carnival interior
2024 Kia Carnival | Kia

The midrange 2024 Carnival EX starts at $38,700, which puts it on par with the starting price of its key rivals. Kia bakes plenty of value into that price.

The EX has all the standard amenities of the base model and the LX Seat Package, including synthetic leather seats and the second-row bench, a must for larger families.

Also, the EX notably upgrades the connectivity of the Carnival with a larger 12.3-inch touchscreen, HD and satellite radio, navigation, an eight-speaker sound system, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and wireless phone charging. Additional features include a hands-free liftgate, larger 19-inch wheels, faux open-pore wood interior trim, and rear window sunshades.

A rear-seat entertainment system looks nice on paper, but most parents don’t want to spend $1,500 to hear even more Cocomelon.

Furthermore, the EX adds more family-friendly features. They include a quiet mode that can turn off the rear speakers when the wee ones finally fall asleep, an interior camera showing the back two rows of seats, and an intercom system for when the littles are awake.

Plus, the EX adds adaptive cruise control (a boon for long road trips), a lane-keep system, front parking sensors, and pedestrian/cyclist detection to the suite of advanced safety features.

Kia also offers optional extras for the EX trim, but for affordability’s sake, we’d skip them. A rear-seat entertainment system looks nice on paper, but most parents don’t want to spend $1,500 to hear even more Cocomelon.

2024 Kia Carnival: Base price versus reality

Our 2024 Kia Carnival EX with no options or accessories rings in at $40,560 with destination charges — $5,995 over the LX base model with destination. Six thousand dollars is no small chunk of change, but we like the added features, better appointments, and improved practicality of the midrange trim over the base version.

It’s also vital to note that the price point is still slightly higher than buyers can expect to pay for a base Odyssey, Pacifica, or Sienna once destination fees are included. For instance, a base Odyssey with a destination charge is only $1,345 less than our midrange Carnival EX.

Ultimately, the 2024 Kia Carnival’s starting price makes this minivan the value pick in a highly competitive segment. Still, most buyers probably won’t spend more on a higher trim to get the features most desired in a family hauler. The good news is that the Carnival still presents strong value prospects even in its pricier trims.