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

Maria J. Danford

Spacious and flexible, approachable and safe — the minivan is a marvel of suburban utility. The issue is that most folks do not truly want to be noticed driving a single, so a lot of consumers skew towards cooler-hunting SUVs. To overcome this, the big players in the class have pushed minivan design in a direction that is perhaps greatest described as “sci-fi bullet train” with mixed outcomes.

Kia’s solution to the issue of uncool perception is to gown its new 2022 Carnival “multipurpose auto” in SUV cosplay. The outcome is a minivan that offers all of the pros and features of its classmates, while standing aesthetically apart with sport utility style.

The Carnival wears an upright, boxy design with a front conclude formed additional like Kia’s Telluride than the Sedona it replaces. Facts like the L-formed, chrome C-pillars break up the minivan’s profile and, alongside with the sculpted wheel arches and darkish lower sills, assist pull the eye upward to develop the overall look of a taller, additional rugged journey. At very first look, the Carnival seems to be practically particularly like a comprehensive-measurement SUV from most angles, but then you observe the reversed handles and tracks for the sliding doorways and, out of the blue, the minivan-ness of the silhouette becomes evident.

The Carnival is the very first Kia to put on what I’ve taken to calling the brand’s new “K-backwards-N” emblem.


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VIP seating

The Carnival’s ability sliding doorways open to expose a spacious inside that is accessible in 7- or eight-passenger configurations. The standard eight-seat setup attributes a 40/20/40-split second-row bench with a center area that can fold around to develop a desk-like armrest for the outboard seats. The bench can also slide significantly plenty of forward permitting front seat travellers to quickly arrive at a auto seat. The second row can also be wholly eradicated when you need to have to obtain the Carnival’s utmost 145.one cubic ft of cargo capability.

Enhance from the base LX to an EX or SX model and the fabric upholstery is changed with synthetic leather. Step up to the best spec SX Status for genuine leather trim and a pair of ability-adjustable VIP seats in location of the second-row bench. These deluxe buckets immediately recline or return upright at the contact of a button, and they aspect heated and cooled surfaces and can even deploy footrests for utmost peace. The Status setup elevates the Carnival from a nicely appointed loved ones hauler to a reasonably deluxe shuttle with additional passenger area, additional cargo capability and less complicated entry than a taller SUV can supply. With the third row folded flat, I can slide the VIP seats significantly plenty of back again for a comprehensive recline and leg extension, even with the front seats in a comfy driving posture. Attempt doing that in an Escalade.

Kia’s minivan is not the only a single to supply reclining captain’s chairs, but these are a contact additional luxe than most.


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The 7-seat SX Status is not without having its compromises, nonetheless. The nonremovable VIP seats necessarily mean this trim maxes out at 86.nine cubes of cargo capability behind the second row, and obtaining to the third row is additional of a squeeze.

Speaking of that standard third row, there’s a great deal of legroom back again there for two common-measurement adults, and plenty of shoulder area for three children. Pulling a strap rapidly folds the 60/40 split bench flat into the Carnival’s ground and a solitary pull lifts it back again up, leaving a nonetheless-extraordinary 40.2 cubic ft for cargo.

On the options list, you may find Kia’s clever ability tailgate, which immediately opens the hatch when you strategy the rear of the auto with the vital in your pocket. I ordinarily find this aspect really troublesome, but Kia should have enhanced its detection logic from before applications. I skilled practically no false-favourable accidental openings for the duration of my tests, and the tailgate now immediately closes when you walk absent, creating loading groceries or other cargo a really palms-totally free process.

Backseat tech

The Carnival can be outfitted with a dual-display screen rear seat leisure setup. Each individual attributes USB and HDMI inputs that can be shared with the other screen. Each individual can hook up to a cellphone or Wi-Fi hotspot to ability apps like Netflix or mirror a smartphone’s screen. You will find also a vibrant Child Manner interface that serves up kid-friendly content. Bluetooth connectivity permits end users to listen employing practically any headphones they previously possess, instead than relying on lower-quality pack-ins.

The Passenger Camera and Passenger Speak attributes assist the driver to enjoy and connect with occupants in the second and third rows.


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An optional huge-angle Passenger Camera on the Carnival’s ceiling shows a bird’s-eye check out of second and third rows on the multimedia display screen, finish with evening vision. This improve is effective very well in tandem with the Passenger Speak aspect that amplifies the driver’s voice around the Carnival’s speakers, so they do not have to shout to communicate to people in the third row. 

When equipped with the optional Passenger Voice Recognition tech, second-row travellers can also concern commands to the dashboard UVO system. This is valuable for obtaining place recommendations from adults in the VIP seats, but is also defeatable when you need to have to maintain a van comprehensive of youngsters from requesting Newborn Shark for the fifty-leventh time.

Entrance seat tech

Up front, Kia’s newest-technology UVO infotainment life in the dashboard. An eight-inch screen is standard, but EX, SX and SX Status products all improve to a 12.three-inch screen. Either way, Android Automobile and Apple CarPlay connectivity are also standard with USB — but not wireless — connectivity. UVO packs its intuitive interface with distinctive attributes like voice memo recording, Sounds of Nature (like calm waves, a forest or bustling cafe) and a tranquil mode that limitations media volume and disables the rear speakers — useful for when children are dozing in the back again.

The customizable star shortcut button on the dashboard — a little aspect that you may find on Kia’s other UVO programs — is joined by a second customizable button on the steering wheel, permitting drivers to map attributes like the Passenger Camera or Passenger Speak to a solitary push.

There are up to nine USB ports (7 are standard) for charging mobile devices unfold across the Carnival’s three rows.


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LX, EX and SX trims all aspect classic bodily gauges and a little 4.three-inch data screen. The SX Status upgrades to a 12.three-inch thoroughly electronic instrument cluster with 4 user-selectable themes, which include a dynamic setting that alterations alongside with the time of working day. The electronic cluster also integrates Kia’s Blind Place Look at aspect, exhibiting a digital camera feed of the adjacent lane when the corresponding flip sign is activated. 

DriveWise basic safety suite

Kia’s DriveWise innovative driver-aid system suite is standard on all Carnival products. That receives you front, rear and lane-change collision detection, forward computerized crisis braking with pedestrian detection, lane-maintaining assist, blind-spot checking and a rear digital camera. DriveWise also rolls in driver focus checking and a sonar-based mostly rear occupant inform that stops accidentally leaving a kid or pet in the parked auto.

The EX trim provides park distance warnings, increased collision avoidance that can also detect cyclists and Highway Driving Assistant, Kia’s umbrella know-how that rolls in navigation-based mostly adaptive cruise management that is effective in stop-and-go traffic and increased lane-maintaining steering assist. Upgrading to SX brings a surround check out digital camera system on line. At last, the comprehensive-unwanted fat SX Status completes the basic safety suite with the aforementioned blind-spot digital camera tech.

Effectiveness and efficiency

The only powertrain available in the 2022 Carnival is a three.5-liter V6 paired with an eight-speed computerized transmission and front-wheel generate. Irrespective of hunting like an SUV, all-wheel generate is not an choice. On the dazzling aspect, 290 horsepower imbues the Carny with quite excellent hustle for a minivan, and the 262 pound-ft of torque is plenty of twist to tow up to a three,500-pound trailer.

Managing is delicate, but comfy. The Carnival is not the most sleek dancer on a twisty highway, but the minivan manages to continue to be off of its possess toes very well plenty of that it feels safe. The steering is responsive, but entire body roll and understeer are obvious at speed. This is, of course, high-quality. Irrespective of Toyota’s internet marketing for the new Sienna, I do not think that anyone shopping for a minivan is hunting for “sport-tuned handling.” A lot more importantly, the Carnival does a terrific occupation absorbing bumps with poise and communicating its limitations to the driver very well and early plenty of to continue to be out of trouble.

The EPA estimates 19 miles per gallon metropolis, 26 mpg highway or 22 mpg mixed from the 2022 Carnival. Which is on par with other front-generate, V6-run minivans in this class. The numerous generate modes — Normal, Eco, Smart and Sport — will have some effect on the Kia’s effectiveness and efficiency balance, but around the course of three times, tests both of those the SX and SX Status trim levels in a wide variety of scenarios, my common of 21.seven mpg was practically spot-on with people estimates.

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


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Pricing and opposition

The 2022 Kia Carnival starts off at $33,275 (which include its $one,a hundred seventy five place cost) for the base LX model and tops out at $forty seven,275 for the thoroughly loaded SX Status. Incorporate $200 for ground mats and $495 for the premium Astra Blue paint to arrive at an as-examined price 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 people hunting to maximize area for folks and cargo, the sweet spot is the eight-passenger SX model commencing at $forty two,275.

The Carnival is priced and appointed competitively from the Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. Even so, Chrysler and Toyota supply all-wheel generate, hybrid and plug-in hybrid configurations that elevate the price ceiling but also bring sizeable effectiveness and gasoline economic system pros. Also contemplate that the Carnival’s sport-utility style has the prospective to tempt a number of people on the fence absent from a new SUV obtain, so a single could make the situation for it staying an oblique competitor to anything like Kia’s possess Telluride as very well.

Kia can connect with it an MPV and style it like an SUV, but what issues is that the Carnival is a damn excellent minivan. Kia’s designers have pulled off this stylistic double-just take with aplomb. With the 2022 Carnival arriving in dealerships now, the automaker can only hope that consumers think it can be as neat as I do.

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