With the 2022 Carnival, Kia
pumps a breath of fresh air into the minivan market.
Replacing the Sedona in the lineup, the 2022 Kia Carnival is designed to appeal to SUV buyers with its upright, squared-off styling.
With its new 290-horsepower V-6 engine, the Carnival packs more power than its predecessor and the competition.
Kia addresses failings in the Sedona by giving the Carnival a more versatile, roomy and finely crafted interior, plus an impressive suite of standard driver-assistance technologies.
Notably, the Korean automaker refers to the Carnival as a “multipurpose vehicle,” rather than a minivan. It’s a marketing ploy that has failed when tried by other companies in the past.
Considered as a minivan, the 2022 Kia Carnival goes head-to-head with long-established and stronger-selling rivals, including the Honda
Sienna and Chrysler Pacifica/Voyager.
Both the Sienna and Pacifica are available with hybrid powertrains (standard on the Toyota), an option lacking in the Carnival. The Sienna also offers all-wheel drive (AWD) as an option, while Carnival is only available in front-wheel-drive (FWD) form.
Overall, minivans have been falling out of favor with consumers. But as people movers – and occasional cargo haulers – minivans still hold several advantages over large SUVs in terms of flexibility and convenience.
Given its long list of improvements, the 2022 Kia Carnival comes out swinging and merits strong consideration if a minivan is on your radar.
What’s new for 2022?
As an all-new entry for 2022, the Kia Carnival packs numerous interesting features. Under the hood is a new 3.5-liter V6, which develops 290 horsepower. That’s up from 275 hp in the 3.3-liter 2021 Kia Sedona.
Up to eight passengers can be carried. The 3-row seating layout is revised to provide more flexibility, especially with the second-row seats, which are removable (except in SX Prestige trim).
With the second-row seats removed and the third row folded flat into the floor, the Carnival boasts best-in-class cargo room, useful when you need to pick up a load of building materials instead of a bunch of school kids.
The Carnival can be ordered with second-row “lounge” seats, with heating and cooling functions, as well as leg supports to give passengers the full luxury limo experience.
For infotainment, the Carnival steps up, with two large display screens, one in front of the driver and an 8-in. center touchscreen, which grows to 12.3 inches when the navigation system is ordered.
If the driver or front passenger needs to talk to those in the back, there is an intercom system, plus second-row passengers can now control many vehicle functions through voice commands.
When it comes to safety features, Kia equips the Carnival with 12 driver-assistance systems as standard. This is more than the competition and is backed up by several optional safety systems, such as a blind-spot view monitor. This alerts the driver to potential hazards by projecting a live video view of adjacent lanes in the instrument cluster. No other minivan offers this feature.
What we like
- Powerful engine
- Upscale cabin
- Flexible seating configuration
- Cargo capability
- Safety features
What we don’t
- No hybrid option
- Questionable fuel economy
Kia has yet to announce prices for the 2022 Carnival. But last year’s Kia Sedona minivan was priced from $30,400 for the base LX model (plus $1,175 for destination fee). Sedona prices ranged to $41,500 for the top SX trim.
We expect Kia to stick fairly close to these prices for the Carnival, given the market conditions, strong competition and the brand’s reputation for value.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has yet to test the 2022 Kia Carnival’s fuel economy.
In EPA testing, the Sedona returned 18 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city, 24 mpg on the highway, and 21 mpg combined. These are not impressive numbers and despite its larger engine, we would expect the Carnival to do better.
Standard features and options
There are four 2022 Carnival trim levels; LX, EX, SX and SX Prestige.
All Carnival trims share the same exterior design, which puts an emphasis on SUV-like toughness in its boxy shape.
At the front, the Carnival sports the familiar Kia grille design but debuts a new brand logo for the first time.
Raised wheel arches front and rear accentuate the brawny design theme and there is a sharp cutline running along the entire side of the vehicle. The minivan rides on 17-inch wheels as standard.
With higher trim levels, 19-inch wheels are an option, with available black gloss finish.
Inside the cabin can be specified in 7- or 8-passenger configuration. The center of the dashboard is trimmed with gloss back surfaces, a chrome strip runs from side-to-side and there are metal-finish air vents.
Three interior colors are available and the Carnival boasts best-in-class interior space for passengers and best-in-class cargo space behind the front seats of 145.1 cubic feet in the LX, EX and SX trims.
The 8-passenger “slide-flex” seating design permits multiple configurations. These include a sliding second-row center seat, which, when in its forward-most position, allows the front passenger to easily reach a baby or child in that seat. The center seat also converts into a table if needed.
In the higher trim 7-passenger configuration, power-adjustable, heated and cooled second-row lounge seats are available with leg rests. In the SX-Prestige model, these seats are not removable, unlike the standard second-row seats.
Convenience features include hands-free opening, power-sliding side doors (operated with the smart key). This feature is standard on all trims. Available on EX trim and above is a hands-free power liftgate and one button open/close functionality for the sliding doors and liftgate.
There is an occupant-alert system, which can detect child or pet movement in the second or third rows after the car has been locked. The system will alert the driver by sounding the horn, or via mobile phone using the Kia UVO app.
Another neat safety-related feature is dubbed safe exit assist. This alerts occupants opening their doors if traffic is approaching. In this instance, the system will lock the rear doors if the Carnival is equipped with the available power child lock option.
On EX, SX and SX-Prestige trims, a standard camera system, with zoom and night vision, will keep an eye on children in the third-row seat.
Standard on SX and SX-Prestige are dual rear screens, with wireless Apple and Android device screen mirroring capability.
Up front, the Carnival driver is treated to a standard 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a standard 8-in. center touchscreen, with wireless Apple
CarPlay and Android Auto, plus wireless smartphone charging. A 12.3-inch touchscreen comes with the navigation system option.
There is a good supply of USB ports, up to nine, for all three rows and two 110-volt outlets. A Bose premium audio system with 12 speakers provides sound for all occupants.
Infotainment is managed by Kia’s advanced UVO system, which can provide sophisticated route guidance, weather information and even voice control to allow users to manage the Carnival’s climate system, seat heating, audio system and more.
Safety is a big part of the 2022 Carnival’s sales pitch. The minivan list of standard driver-assist systems includes forward-collision avoidance, blind-spot avoidance assist, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assist, lane-keeping assist, lane-following assist, lane-departure warning and high-beam automatic dipping.
On top of these features, there are more available, including blind-spot view monitor, forward-collision avoidance assist that detects cyclists, parking collision avoidance assist and a surround-view monitor to give a 360-degree birds-eye view using four vehicle cameras.
The 2021 Sedona performed well in crash tests performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). We expect the Carnival to keep up those standards.
Behind the wheel
We have yet to drive the Carnival. However we liked the way the Sedona handled, for a minivan, with decent steering response.
We expect Kia will maintain or improve the Sedona’s ride and handling qualities, plus the more powerful engine will give the Carnival a needed boost in performance compared with its predecessor.
Check back soon for an update on the Carnival’s driving experience.
Other cars to consider
2022 Honda Odyssey – As the longtime standard setter among minivans, the Honda Odyssey is still the one to beat.
2022 Toyota Sienna – Toyota ups the Sienna’s game with a standard hybrid powertrain and plenty of Odyssey rivaling features.
2022 Chrysler Pacifica – Another key minivan with hybrid and all wheel drive availability, the Pacifica is a must look contender.
Unless you really need the limo-like seating set-up of the SX-Prestige, we recommend going with the more versatile 8-passenger configuration EX trim. It will have most of the desirable features and an impressive set of standard safety systems.
This story originally ran on Autotrader.com.