Minivans are a tough game to play for automakers. People love to hate them, and even though they’re the ultimate family vehicle, plenty of buyers opt for larger, beefier-looking SUVs instead.
Kia realizes this and has announced a replacement for its current minivan, the Sedona. The 2022 Kia Carnival soon will arrive with strong styling, loads of standard safety and entertainment tech and a wealth of best-in-class features.
Kia will offer the new van in four trims: LX, EX, SX and SX-Prestige. Taking a cue from Mazda’s playbook, Kia is calling its new minivan an MPV, or multiperson vehicle.
Even so, this isn’t the minivan your parents toted you to school in, and it doesn’t wear the same friendly shape Kia’s previous minivan wore. This, as Kia says, is a beefier, more muscular minivan for an SUV-crazed world.
The Carnival’s design was penned at Kia’s California design center, the same place that turned out the tremendously popular Kia Telluride. The van is boxier and features long, straight lines that stretch the length of the vehicle.
That styling, combined with a flatter hood and large Kia “tiger nose” grille, gives the Carnival an imposing presence that does come close to looking like a sport-ute.
Under the hood, every Carnival will be powered by a 3.5L V-6 that makes a best-in-class 290 hp and 262 lb.-ft. (355 Nm) of torque. Power hits the front wheels through an 8-speed automatic gearbox and is good enough to give the family-hauler a 3,500-lb. (1,590-kg) tow rating.
Even with all the sleek styling, the Carnival is, at its heart, a minivan. That means it has to be good at safely and comfortably carrying people, kids, pets and a ton of gear.
To do that, Kia will equip the vehicle with best-in-class passenger and cargo room and offers a configurable seating arrangement for up to eight people.
Shoppers seeking a luxurious minivan will be pleased to find the Carnival can be upgraded with a VIP Lounge Seating setup (above) that offers heated and ventilated second-row seats, wing-out headrests and leg extensions for vans that have seven-passenger seating configurations.
In the tech department, the van will offer a standard 8-in. (20-cm) touchscreen that runs wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless smartphone charging, multi-Bluetooth connectivity, up to nine USB ports and an available Bose premium sound system with 12 speakers and Bose Centerpoint tech.
On top of that, Kia will equip the Carnival with a host of standard advanced driver-assist systems. Every van will leave the factory with forward collision avoidance assist, blindspot avoidance assist, rear cross-traffic collision assist, park-distance warnings, lane keeping assist, automatic high-beam headlights and a driver attention warning system.
The safety options list includes innovative features such as a blindspot camera system that projects images into the gauge cluster and navigation-based smart cruise control that can preemptively lower the vehicle’s speed before curves and obstacles.
Kia expects to begin Carnival deliveries in the second quarter. The starting price will be $32,100, the automaker says on its website.