The 2022 Kia Carnival Reboots the Minivan

Let’s face it: The minivan is a four-letter word to some parents. While the minivan has changed how families move en masse, it’s become lame. With shrinking space in the market, it only makes sense for automakers to rethink what the minivan represents in their lineups. For 2022, it looks like Kia is doing exactly that with its new Sedona—only it’s not called the Sedona anymore. Kia has pivoted to the global name for its minivan, now dubbing the family hauler Carnival in the US market. More important than the name change, this newest Kia isn’t a minivan: Kia insists that this is new Carnival is a multipurpose vehicle that fills the void between a minivan and an SUV.

The major changes to the Carnival aren’t so much in its underpinnings as in the design language. The 2022 Kia Carnival probably won’t be tackling the Rubicon anytime soon, but it will look more interesting than your first-generation Sedona. The boxier styling might make this people mover more attractive to the minivan detractors, but it still has the creature comforts you want from your minivan, er, multipurpose vehicle, namely, lots of seating options, sliding side doors, and a big rear hatch.

The Carnival actually takes its seating options in an interesting direction. While most minivans are designed to pack as many people, comfortably, into a mobile box, the Carnival has an optional second-row VIP seating option, with reclining, heated, and ventilated seats. The fancy seats are only available on seven-passenger configurations, with the eight-passenger variants sporting traditional second-row seating. Another option is what Kia is calling Side-Flex second-row seats that feature a sliding second-row middle seat. This seat also converts into a table when not needed.

Powering the Kia Carnival is a 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V6 making 290 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. That power travels to the front wheels by way of an eight-speed automatic transmission. This is a small bump over the outgoing models, which used the smaller 3.3-liter V6 engine rated at 276 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque. The updated powertrain is sound enough to tow 3,500 pounds, plenty for a small boat and trailer.

Kia is also not shy about stuffing this family-oriented ride with active safety goodies. Standard features include forward collision-avoidance assist, blind-spot avoidance assist, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assist, parking distance warning-reverse, lane-keeping assist system, driver attention warning, and high beam assist. You can also tack on the available blind-spot view monitor, highway driving assist, navigation-based smart cruise control, parking collision avoidance, and a surround-view monitor, if you want to see what’s around your car, from the comfort of your new Carnival.

Likewise, a host of standard consumer tech comes standard, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system that features multi-Bluetooth connectivity. As many as nine USB ports are available to help folks with older devices charge on long trips. Optional extras like a huge 12.3-inch navigation screen, Bose sound system, and UVO telematics integration.

Kia says that you’ll see the 2022 Carnival hit showrooms in the second quarter of 2021. That means you’ll probably see the Carnival in person before summer gets into full swing. There’s no word on price, but we would expect to see an increase over the current Sedona’s $30,400 starting price. Kia is splitting the Carnival up among similar trim lines to the Sedona, starting with LX and rising through the option ranks from EX, SX, and SX-Prestige, which loads the new Carnival to the max.

Does the 2022 Kia Carnival do it for you? Or has the minivan ship sailed too far from your shore? Let us know in the comments below.

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