2022 KIA Carnival EX+
If you live in Canada, or North America, you probably were in one of the minivans back in the 80s and 90s. They somehow started to disappear after the invasion of SUVs, as they offer quite good amount of practicality and available all-wheel-drive for the cold and harsh winters.
Despite poor sales numbers minivans had throughout the 2000 and 2010s, there are few brands that still offered continuously, such as the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. KIA may sound like the new kid on the block, but they offered the Sedona as a first attempt in the last decade.
Minivan sales started to pick back up again, as people decided to take longer trips with their families instead of taking a flight, due to the pandemic. KIA decided to renew their minivan and ditch the name Sedona for North America. The new minivan is now called the Carnival.
Exterior and Interior
Well, Minivans are known as uncool family hauler to this day, but KIA aims people who are looking for a good-looking minivan. If you don’t see the rear sliding door gap, it almost looks like an SUV. It has nice sharp body lines throughout the vehicle, but more importantly, the big grille and headlight design makes it look unique in this segment.
Like the front end, rear design is also unique as it has huge one piece taillight, the new “KIA” logo is placed in the middle, and it also has huge skid plate at the bottom to make it look more like an SUV. Overall, I think KIA did an excellent job with the overall design to make it look more like a crossover rather than a minivan.
The crossover-like design language continues in the interior of the new Carnival. Like many SUVs, there is a huge center console design as it comes with regular shifter and two cupholders. I wish the arm rest were adjustable back and forth, as for shorter drivers may not be able to use it due to its fixed location.
The second and third row is where you start to feel that it’s an actual minivan. As expected, it offers tons of legroom and headroom. As our tester is the second top trim, it didn’t have comfort seats, but it had 8-seat option which means the middle seat can be used as a table, it can go back and forth for additional flexibility.
Like many other minivans, the third row is actually usable by large adults. Though I would still not recommend having three large adults in the back, KIA Carnival EX+ can take up to 8 passengers easily. Getting in and out to the third row is easy as second row seats can be folded down quite easy. Folding down the 3rd row is also relatively fast, as you don’t have electric powered seats in the back.
3rd row seats is where you feel there is a big difference between a minivan and 3-row SUV. The difference is even bigger when you compare overall trunk space. The Carnival has 40.2 cubic feet (1138L) of cargo space behind the 3rd row, 86.9 cubic feet (2460L) if you fold down the 3rd row, and whopping 145.1 cubic feet (4109L) if you fold down all rear seats.
The good thing about the EX+ trim (or any lower trim) is that the second row seats can be removed if you need flat space. This is not possible with the top trim, as they come with special electric powered seats for additional comfort. Though with the EX+ trim, you can’t move the seats side by side, but good to have removable option for carrying large items.
Engine and Drivetrain
All 2022 KIA Carnivals come with one engine and drivetrain option. It has 3.5 liter naturally aspirated V6 engine that produces 290 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. It keeps the most powerful minivan title by a small margin. The V6 engine is not only smooth and refined, but the dual injection system eliminates the potential carbon build-up problems of the direct injection engines.
The smooth V6 engine is matched with KIA’s 8 speed torque converted automatic transmission. It’s a tried-and-true system that is also used in many other KIA, Hyundai and Genesis vehicles. The upshifts and downshifts are not lightning fast as it prioritizes fuel economy and comfort, and it does a pretty good job overall.
Unfortunately 2022 KIA Carnival does not come with either all-wheel-drive or hybrid system. The V6 engine and 8 speed automatic combination offers great fuel economy on the highway, but still can’t compete with hybrid entries in terms of overall fuel economy. In our tests, we were averaging around 9.5L-10L / 100 km, which is quite good considering overall size and weight.
Driving Impressions and Features
In terms of driving experience, my expectations were not high as it is a huge minivan. However, I’m quite surprised by the fact that it feels more of a big SUV rather than a big bus. The suspension tune is spot on in terms of road comfort and driving dynamics.
An average minivan user would not prioritize driving experience, but 2022 KIA Carnival didn’t make me feel like I’m driving a soccer mom mobile, as a car enthusiast. V6 engine is a sweet spot in terms of daily drivability, though it is naturally aspirated, it has decent amount of torque and roll on power.
Like many other KIA models, feature and value proposition is one of the strongest selling points with the Carnival. It has tons of features that is carried over from some high-end models. Blind View Camera, and Highway Driving Assist are the two most useful safety and comfort features that I think KIA stands out and makes a difference.
There are some missed opportunities. For instance, the amount of glossy black plastics is ridiculously high. This is supposed to be a family vehicle and whole center console is covered with piano black. After few days of use, it already looks disgusting, and KIA should have found more unique material choice.
Another missed opportunity is the touch sensitive buttons for air conditioning. It is good that you don’t have to rely on infotainment system to adjust it, and technically they are physical buttons, but the way they implement is just annoying. It is one of my least favorite features, as you constantly have to take your eyes off the road to adjust the A/C.
Last but not least, though it has some features that is unique to modern KIA – Hyundai vehicles, there are some features missing in the second top trim. I was expecting to have at least 1 sunroof in the front at least as an option, and memory feature available for the driver’s seat.
Pricing and the Verdict
KIA, like the other Korean brands, has come a long way in the last decade. With the new logo and brand image, it is no longer a budget brand for the rental fleets. In fact, they still offer a great value proposition but with much more upscale entries in almost every segment. 2022 KIA Carnival is no exception, and it also represents the future of the brand.
2022 KIA Carnival is priced very competitively. It starts at $34,795 and our tester, the EX+ trim is priced at $45,595. If you want to have all features, the SX trim sets you back at $48,595. Considering all Japanese entries are well over $55,000 range with their top trim, I think the Carnival is my favorite choice unless you absolutely need the all-wheel-drive or hybrid drivetrain.
For more details – please visit www.kia.ca