2022 Kia Carnival first drive review: A luxurious minivan with SUV style

Nancy J. Delong

Roomy and adaptable, approachable and protected — the minivan is a marvel of suburban utility. The challenge is that most men and women never basically want to be observed driving a person, so several shoppers skew toward cooler-wanting SUVs. To battle this, the big gamers in the class have pushed […]

Roomy and adaptable, approachable and protected — the minivan is a marvel of suburban utility. The challenge is that most men and women never basically want to be observed driving a person, so several shoppers skew toward cooler-wanting SUVs. To battle this, the big gamers in the class have pushed minivan layout in a course which is possibly most effective described as “sci-fi bullet educate” with blended success.

Kia’s resolution to the challenge of uncool perception is to dress its new 2022 Carnival “multipurpose auto” in SUV cosplay. The final result is a minivan that boasts all of the rewards and amenities of its classmates, although standing aesthetically aside with sport utility design.

The Carnival wears an upright, boxy layout with a front conclusion shaped more like Kia’s Telluride than the Sedona it replaces. Facts like the L-shaped, chrome C-pillars crack up the minivan’s profile and, together with the sculpted wheel arches and dim decrease sills, assistance pull the eye upward to create the appearance of a taller, more rugged journey. At initially glance, the Carnival seems to be just about just like a total-dimensions SUV from most angles, but then you detect the reversed handles and tracks for the sliding doorways and, abruptly, the minivan-ness of the silhouette gets clear.

The Carnival is the initially Kia to have on what I’ve taken to calling the brand’s new “K-backwards-N” symbol.


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VIP seating

The Carnival’s ability sliding doorways open to expose a roomy interior which is available in 7- or 8-passenger configurations. The typical 8-seat setup attributes a forty/twenty/forty-split next-row bench with a center portion that can fold in excess of to create a table-like armrest for the outboard seats. The bench can also slide significantly ample forward permitting front seat passengers to very easily arrive at a auto seat. The next row can also be absolutely eradicated when you want to entry the Carnival’s most a hundred forty five.one cubic ft of cargo capability.

Improve from the foundation LX to an EX or SX design and the cloth upholstery is changed with artificial leather. Phase up to the top spec SX Status for authentic leather trim and a pair of ability-adjustable VIP seats in put of the next-row bench. These magnificent buckets routinely recline or return upright at the touch of a button, and they function heated and cooled surfaces and can even deploy footrests for most leisure. The Status setup elevates the Carnival from a properly appointed family hauler to a relatively magnificent shuttle with more passenger area, more cargo capability and simpler entry than a taller SUV can give. With the 3rd row folded flat, I can slide the VIP seats significantly ample again for a total recline and leg extension, even with the front seats in a comfortable driving placement. Try out performing that in an Escalade.

Kia’s minivan is just not the only a person to give reclining captain’s chairs, but these are a touch more luxe than most.


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The 7-seat SX Status is just not without its compromises, nevertheless. The nonremovable VIP seats imply this trim maxes out at 86.9 cubes of cargo capability behind the next row, and acquiring to the 3rd row is more of a squeeze.

Talking of that typical 3rd row, you can find a good deal of legroom again there for two regular-dimensions grown ups, and ample shoulder area for three young children. Pulling a strap immediately folds the 60/forty split bench flat into the Carnival’s floor and a single pull lifts it again up, leaving a still-impressive forty.2 cubic ft for cargo.

On the options record, you can expect to find Kia’s sensible ability tailgate, which routinely opens the hatch when you solution the rear of the auto with the vital in your pocket. I normally find this function very aggravating, but Kia have to have improved its detection logic from previously applications. I professional just about no bogus-optimistic accidental openings for the duration of my tests, and the tailgate now routinely closes when you stroll absent, earning loading groceries or other cargo a certainly arms-free approach.

Backseat tech

The Carnival can be outfitted with a twin-display rear seat enjoyment setup. Each and every attributes USB and HDMI inputs that can be shared with the other show. Each and every can link to a telephone or Wi-Fi hotspot to ability apps like Netflix or mirror a smartphone’s show. You will find also a vibrant Kid Mode interface that serves up youngster-friendly content. Bluetooth connectivity enables end users to listen working with just about any headphones they currently very own, instead than relying on small-quality pack-ins.

The Passenger Camera and Passenger Communicate attributes assistance the driver to check out and communicate with occupants in the next and 3rd rows.


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An optional extensive-angle Passenger Camera on the Carnival’s ceiling displays a bird’s-eye check out of next and 3rd rows on the multimedia display, entire with evening vision. This enhance functions nicely in tandem with the Passenger Communicate function that amplifies the driver’s voice in excess of the Carnival’s speakers, so they never have to shout to talk to folks in the 3rd row. 

When outfitted with the optional Passenger Voice Recognition tech, next-row passengers can also situation instructions to the dashboard UVO program. This is practical for acquiring location recommendations from grown ups in the VIP seats, but is also defeatable when you want to hold a van total of little ones from requesting Infant Shark for the fifty-leventh time.

Front seat tech

Up front, Kia’s most current-era UVO infotainment life in the dashboard. An 8-inch show is typical, but EX, SX and SX Status models all enhance to a 12.3-inch show. Either way, Android Vehicle and Apple CarPlay connectivity are also typical with USB — but not wireless — connectivity. UVO packs its intuitive interface with unique attributes like voice memo recording, Appears of Nature (like calm waves, a forest or bustling cafe) and a tranquil manner that limitations media volume and disables the rear speakers — handy for when young children are dozing in the again.

The customizable star shortcut button on the dashboard — a smaller function that you can expect to find on Kia’s other UVO programs — is joined by a next customizable button on the steering wheel, permitting drivers to map attributes like the Passenger Camera or Passenger Communicate to a single push.

There are up to nine USB ports (7 are typical) for charging cellular gadgets spread across the Carnival’s three rows.


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LX, EX and SX trims all function regular bodily gauges and a smaller four.3-inch information and facts show. The SX Status upgrades to a 12.3-inch totally digital instrument cluster with four user-selectable themes, which include a dynamic location that adjustments together with the time of day. The digital cluster also integrates Kia’s Blind Location Perspective function, displaying a digicam feed of the adjacent lane when the corresponding transform signal is activated. 

DriveWise safety suite

Kia’s DriveWise sophisticated driver-aid program suite is typical on all Carnival models. That will get you front, rear and lane-improve collision detection, forward computerized crisis braking with pedestrian detection, lane-trying to keep help, blind-place checking and a rear digicam. DriveWise also rolls in driver interest checking and a sonar-based mostly rear occupant inform that stops accidentally leaving a youngster or pet in the parked auto.

The EX trim adds park distance warnings, increased collision avoidance that can also detect cyclists and Highway Driving Assistant, Kia’s umbrella technologies that rolls in navigation-based mostly adaptive cruise management that functions in halt-and-go targeted visitors and increased lane-trying to keep steering help. Upgrading to SX delivers a encompass check out digicam program on the internet. Last but not least, the total-body fat SX Status completes the safety suite with the aforementioned blind-place digicam tech.

Performance and effectiveness

The only powertrain made available in the 2022 Carnival is a 3.five-liter V6 paired with an 8-speed computerized transmission and front-wheel push. Regardless of wanting like an SUV, all-wheel push is not an possibility. On the bright aspect, 290 horsepower imbues the Carny with fairly great hustle for a minivan, and the 262 pound-ft of torque is ample twist to tow up to a 3,500-pound trailer.

Dealing with is gentle, but comfortable. The Carnival is just not the most swish dancer on a twisty street, but the minivan manages to stay off of its very own toes nicely ample that it feels protected. The steering is responsive, but system roll and understeer are obvious at speed. This is, of class, good. Regardless of Toyota’s internet marketing for the new Sienna, I never think that everyone purchasing for a minivan is wanting for “sport-tuned managing.” Far more importantly, the Carnival does a excellent task absorbing bumps with poise and communicating its limitations to the driver nicely and early ample to stay out of problems.

The EPA estimates 19 miles per gallon town, 26 mpg freeway or 22 mpg blended from the 2022 Carnival. Which is on par with other front-push, V6-powered minivans in this class. The various push modes — Standard, Eco, Clever and Activity — will have some influence on the Kia’s performance and effectiveness stability, but in excess of the class of three times, tests the two the SX and SX Status trim concentrations in a range of conditions, my regular of 21.seven mpg was just about place-on with those estimates.

Kia’s betting that the Carnival will find a home in the gray spot amongst minivans and SUVs.


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Pricing and levels of competition

The 2022 Kia Carnival starts off at $33,275 (which include its $one,a hundred seventy five location charge) for the foundation LX design and tops out at $forty seven,275 for the totally loaded SX Status. Increase $200 for floor mats and $495 for the high quality Astra Blue paint to arrive at an as-analyzed cost of $forty seven,970. I only ever want to be picked up from the airport in a Carny with VIP seating from now on, but for households wanting to optimize area for men and women and cargo, the sweet place is the 8-passenger SX design starting off at $42,275.

The Carnival is priced and appointed competitively against the Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. Nevertheless, Chrysler and Toyota give all-wheel push, hybrid and plug-in hybrid configurations that elevate the cost ceiling but also provide major performance and gas financial system rewards. Also take into account that the Carnival’s sport-utility design has the likely to tempt a number of households on the fence absent from a new SUV acquire, so a person could make the circumstance for it remaining an oblique competitor to one thing like Kia’s very own Telluride as nicely.

Kia can contact it an MPV and design it like an SUV, but what issues is that the Carnival is a damn great minivan. Kia’s designers have pulled off this stylistic double-choose with aplomb. With the 2022 Carnival arriving in dealerships now, the automaker can only hope that shoppers think it is as amazing as I do.

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