By on June 24, 2020

kia

The vehicle you see here may bear the name of a minivan, but Kia Motors affectionately (and perhaps optimistically) refers to it as a “Grand Utility Vehicle.”

Appearing in South Korea on Wednesday wearing next-generation duds, the Carnival —aka the North American-market Sedona — apparently wants to be mistaken for an SUV. The brand’s designers made sure the resemblance was more than fleeting.

Clearly Kia in origin when viewed from the front, the vehicle adopts a very tall version of the brand’s corporate Tiger-nose grille, employing a blunter front end and flatter (as well as longer) hoodline to mimic the bold face of most sport-utility vehicles. That’s just the beginning. A squared-off body displaying more pronounced wheel arches, blacked-out A- and B-pillars, floating roof, ruler-straight bodyside lines, and full-width rear light bar all serve to visually move the Carnival/Sedona out of the dustbuster space.

Only the rear door track and handle placement signals that anything’s amiss.

Indeed, Kia’s copy speaks to this effort. The brand aimed for “a more architectural sense of solidity and an upgraded appearance that draws on the overarching design ethos that links all of Kia’s cars design identity,” Kia stated.

“Matched with highly detailed, futuristic details and SUV-inspired design elements, the new model brings a stronger, more stylish presence to the mid-sized MPV segment.”

kia

Ah, there it is. Viewed from the rear quarter, the minivan would fool more than few people into believing it doesn’t share the same segment with the Honda Odyssey and Chrysler Pacifica. Could the efforts of Kia designers pay off in markets where superficial buyers increasingly shun the minivan body style and all of the negative emotional baggage that comes with it?

As for the revamped vehicle’s cabin, content, and powertrain, those remain unknown quantities for now. The Carnival goes on sale in South Korea in the fourth quarter of the year, with the North American-market Sedona following sometime thereafter. Stay tuned for more details on this well-disguised people mover.

[Images: Kia Motors]

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52 Comments on “2021 Kia Carnival/Sedona: Don’t Call It a Minivan...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Looks like a lowered Tahoe with sliding doors, not bad, but I’ll let the van guys decide

  • avatar
    statikboy

    At first glance it looks exactly like a minivan.

  • avatar
    gasser

    Great design effort, especially the C and D pillars.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Very cool design, but since the van market is drying up, I wonder if it’s casting pearls before swine.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    If it can’t carry a 4 x 8 sheet of material inside, I’m not interested.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    As far as I understand, Last Sedona had issues with usability and driveability when loaded with passengers.

    • 0 avatar
      brett

      I had 8 people in my 2017 Sedona over fathers day. I am wondering what usability and drive-ability issues you are referring too since I have not experienced any.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        Reasons Not to Buy a 2020 Kia Sedona – The Cons

        1. Little Cargo Space
        2. Low Ride Quality
        3. Poor Fuel Economy
        https://www.car-buying-strategies.com/Kia/2020-Sedona.html

  • avatar
    zipper69

    Kia have the smarts in sniffing out a gap in the market and on looks alone this seems to tick a lot of boxes in a buyer’s mind.
    Looks to be a true three row with real space for luggage.

    Do we suppose there will be a badge engineered Hyundai version?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “Do we suppose there will be a badge engineered Hyundai version?”

      Not a chance:
      1. H/K don’t technically badge engineer their vehicles, and many of their offerings have no counterpart in the other camp.

      2. Hyundai’s Entourage minivan died an early death (06-09) while the 06-12 Sedona was far more successful, and has had successive redesigns. I can’t see them engineering a Hyundai version for such low sales volume.

    • 0 avatar
      teddyc73

      Same boxes the Chrysler Pacifica, Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey check. They are all “true three rows with real space for luggage”. What exactly in your eye is Kia doing different? What is this gap in the market you are referring to? What other gaps have the sniffed out?

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Circa 1996 “lets make the U body vans look more like SUV’s by giving them more hood”

        automotive Press “Idiots”

        today “lets make our vans look more like a Sorrento by giving them more hood”

        automotive Press “Brilliant”

        • 0 avatar
          geozinger

          I couldn’t gave said it better myself Art Vandelay!

        • 0 avatar
          NoID

          The difference, Art, is that GM absolutely phoned in the U-body’s “SUV-ish” look starting in 2005, crafting a squared off front end to the same body aft of the A-pillar. The result was that they fooled nobody into thinking they were SUVs, while at the same time abandoning the clean and recognizable shape of the prior generations. They were also badge-engineered to hell and back.

          I think Kia might have a chance with this one. Kudos to them for swinging for the fences.

  • avatar
    amwhalbi

    This admittedly is splitting hairs a bit, but appearance-wise, minivans to me have a shorter and/or sloping front hood/windshield profile, while the SUV front end is longer, less sloping and more “truck-like” (for lack of a better term). I’ve sort of felt that look, aesthetically, was part of the appeal of SUV’s over minivans, given the hot public pickup truck obsession in the US.

    From this picture, the Kia front end suggests SUV to me than minivan. If it appears that way to others as well, while successfully maintaining the space efficiency of regular minivans…well, it might be a good seller for Kia.

  • avatar
    amwhalbi

    Apologize about duplicate posts. My computer is on its last legs and is senile in its old age.

    • 0 avatar
      R Henry

      I had a Pinto like that once. I ran poorly for the whole 6 years I flogged it!

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      amwhalbi, unsolicited advice: Install a free app that monitors the core temperature of your processor. If it’s running too hot, there are ways to address that. (Saved my laptop awhile back.)

      • 0 avatar
        amwhalbi

        Thanks, ToolGuy. I will definitely check that out for my HP. There’s nothing quite like squeezing some more miles out of a junker, or as I more affectionately say, a “classic.”

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          If your CPU is running hot with you just browsing the web and you have anything newer than a Pentium 100, you have something else going on.

          Are your case/CPU fans sounding like a 747 throttling up for takeoff? If not you probably just have a bunch of applications running in the background either because you installed them, or some other entity installed them for you.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            The Pentium 75, 100, Pro (200mhz), and Pentium II class up to 600mhz can all run without the aid of a fan using a heatsink only. In fact, the older ones can run without a heat sink (I believe 75 and 100, not sure on Pro).

            Typically when a fan starts running hard and stays running it is because of system load OR because the thermal paste needs to be scraped and replaced because too much heat is coming through, hence the fan running. I can also confirm while Windows 7 is probably the best desktop O/S from MSFT to date, running Lubuntu generates less heat on my X300 than W7, which is noticeably warmer to touch.

            Additional: I hope my firm goes permanent work from home, since the crisis I have been using first my own hardware but now there’s (webcam) and used Citrix to access a VM desktop. I absolutely hate this laptop they provided (which isn’t actually garbage believe it or not) and hope to give it back and switch to Linux on my own hardware for Citrix duties.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    I had a Pinto like that once. It ran poorly for the whole 6 years I flogged it!

  • avatar
    KOKing

    That 3/4 view looks like a half-Explorer (C pillar) half Aviator (taillights). Hard to say how it’ll do compared to the Telluride sitting next to it in the showroom, but at least they’re trying.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Is it possible to have one collective mental disease were everything has to look like a truck but none of it is *and we know it isn’t*?

  • avatar
    geozinger

    This is the exact same strategy GM tried with it’s minivans back about 2005 or so. Make them look less like a minivan and more like a SUV.

    We all see how well that turned out.

    Kia acts as if no one has a memory…

  • avatar
    boowiebear

    I like it. I think it blends the design elements from a SUV and Van in a pleasing way that may attract new buyers that are averse to a Van. Vans are very practical. I had a 2008 Sedona and now a Honda Odyssey. Both fit a many sheets of 4×8 plywood. I might consider this when my Van dies, hopefully way after 200k plus miles.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Any interior shots?

  • avatar
    3800FAN

    It’s the Kia Tahoe.

    Seriously I don’t hate the design but when it comes to vans (and minivans) it’s the utility that matters, not the style. That’s why people buy them. Kia tried the “make it look like an suv” already and it didn’t help sales cuz while the styling was good the utility was terrible (no removeable or fold flat 2nd row seats, bridge console, tiny 3rd row windows making visability poor, poor features on lower trims). Gm made the same mistake with their 05 minivan line (too bad kia didn’t learn from GM what not to do). Lets hope they learn from their mistake and make it as utilitarian as the competition because the gen 2 sedona was as good as the rest of the pack and had sales to back it up.

    • 0 avatar
      boowiebear

      I agree, I like the looks, but if it loses Van capabilities then it is a non-starter. I would hope they were able to just make the outside look Utility Vehicle-ish and keep the insides similar to 1st and 2nd Gen Sedona, that thing was big inside!

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Yes the final generation of GM minivan had a large ‘nose’ tacked on to try to present a more aggressive ‘SUV style look’.

      It also helped to address the terrible crash test performance of the previous generation.

      In retrospect our SV6 Montana was dollar for dollar one of the best vehicles that I have ever owned and without a doubt the best minivan in regards to reliability/maintenance. I wish that I had kept it longer.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      No…It is the Kia Montana/Relay/Uplander/Terazza…and it looks equally stupid. But it’s a Kia so I expect it to be well loved here.

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    I always marvel that vehicles that have true utility must carry a 4 x 8 piece of what ever.

    It’s a “standard” to which they are held to-that is a feature ever hardly used. My average neighbor in my pretty much upscale neighborhood (where Nissan NV passenger vans rule BTW)-they neither have the time-nor skill to hang drywall or plywood.

    It seems to be on TTAC that this standard is right up there with a manual transmission on this site-it’s worshiped here-and cared about less in the “real world”.

    • 0 avatar
      turbo_awd

      I’ve hauled 4x8s in both our ’08 Grand Caravan and ’15 Town and Country, and I’m just a software guy who sometimes does some DIY stuff like put plywood/OSB down on top of bare floor planks, or add some drywall to a few empty spots in the garage. When I was putting in my load @Home Depot a few years ago, a kind gentleman in his (I think) 50s gave me a hand – and upon seeing how easily my van could hold the sheets, he said “Wow, my pickup couldn’t hold those at all!”.

    • 0 avatar

      Also useful for big screen TVs and Girl scout cookie Moms. FYI a Grand caravan can fit more cases of girl scout cookies inside then a suburban.

  • avatar

    Looks nice. But can it compare to Teluride?

  • avatar
    Garrett

    Make sure it has a V6 and AWD and it’ll sell like hot cakes.

    Would much rather have this than most SUVs.

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