By on January 13, 2021

Kia

The Kia Carnival will arrive on our shores sometime this summer as a 2022 model, according to a story this morning from Autoblog. As we posted back in June, Kia is positioning it as a grand utility vehicle (GUV), lest you think it’s merely another minivan.

Kia

How or why a stigma is attached to minivans is as odd as the soccer mom designation, both turned somewhat derogatory over time. Perhaps it implies domestication, and neither automakers nor domestic partners care for that portrayal unless they happen to be on the Hallmark Channel.

Regardless, the Carnival is being compared to the Toyota Sienna, although the drivetrain in the Kia is much more conventional than what is available on the Sienna. Compare the 3.5-liter V6 rated at 294 horsepower and 261 lb-ft of torque, with front-wheel-drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission on the Kia, with the hybrid system of two electric motors working with the 2.5-liter DOHC four-banger to deliver a whopping 245 HP that’s baked into all the Siennas.

Complexity at its finest, the Sienna does have that bullet-train styling going for it, and is the greenest of the current minivan crop, having been selected for the 2021 Green Car of the Year Award. Without stealing the base-to-base thunder of my colleague, let’s just say you can get either GUV starting around $32K, although with the various packages and amenities, it can ring up the register fairly quickly. Hitting the average vehicle price of above $40K, it seems buyers in the U.S. are okay with larger down payments, so selling prices doesn’t seem to be an issue. Whether it’s the family people mover or you need a plush pooch mobile, the Kia Carnival is worth waiting for.

[Images: Kia, Toyota]

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40 Comments on “Kia Carnival Sails to the U.S. this Summer...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I’m going to go with this being the best-looking minivan I’ve ever seen. Bravo, Kia. Hope it finds some buyers.

    • 0 avatar
      Lynchenstein

      Agreed. The Sienna from the side has that over-pronounced crease and swoop over the rear wheel and the front is…uh…bold. The Kia seems mature and sophisticated by comparison, though I think I’d rather have the Sienna’s drivetrain.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I think I’ll stick with the basic six versus the hybrid. Still, if I trust anyone to make a hybrid work, it’s Toyota.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          I’ll stick with a Toyota Hybrid over anything from H/K and a number of brands. For most Toyota that are available in traditional and Hybrid version the hybrid version is the most reliable and durable version that of course also has the lowest cost per mile.

  • avatar
    quaquaqua

    I can not believe they’re calling it the Carnival here, considering how much trouble they went to making it look sleek and somewhat rugged. WHY would you do this, Kia?!

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    First the Telluride and now this. Kia is killing it in the boring family hauler category

    • 0 avatar
      BigDuke6

      But it’s NOT a BFH (Boring Family Hauler). It’s a GUV! (Grand Utility Vehicle). Marketing types have a lot of people fooled.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      This is their best effort since the Telluride (better than the K5 and the new Sorento).

      Won’t be the sales leader (but has had booming sales in Korea), but wouldn’t be surprised if it end up having the highest ATP in its segment like the Telluride.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The Sedona was called the Carnival in other markets, so this is the new Sedona minivan.

    I love my 09 Sedona; but Kia ruined the current generation when they axed removal of the middle row seats. So much for utility.

    I’m past hauling my family of 7 around, but a minivan can’t be beat for multi-purpose utility. I’d rather bring home some 4 x 8s with the hatch closed than have them hanging out the back of a pickup.

    Still, replacing this van will be of of the hardest car decisions I’ve ever made. Thankfully, Covid is pushing that decision out further every day, since we hardly drive it now.

    • 0 avatar
      FerrariLaFerrariFace

      From the Autoblog link in the first paragraph:
      “Sedona, Arizona, will stop lending its name to Kia’s entry in the minivan segment for the 2022 model year. NHTSA documents confirm that the company’s next people-mover will receive the Carnival nameplate.”

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        I wasn’t doubting that; it merely means Kia is using the same product name in all markets, I suppose, and “Sedona” goes away. Too bad.

        “Arriving on our shores” may also be a misnomer. The article isn’t clear, but my 09 was built in Alabama. Given the low volume of minivans these days, maybe it’s cheaper just to import them rather than tool up another factory.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      “…but Kia ruined the current generation when they axed removal of the middle row seats. So much for utility.”

      This.

      And then Toyota followed suit.

      This leaves the Honda (um, no thank you, I like my cars to run reliably) and the Chrysler.

      I am jonesing for a Pacifica hybrid, for some reason. We are a minivan family, and the current runner is Honda’s last reliable (that being relative) piece of hardware: an 07 with me bypassing the “Variable Cylinder Management” engine-destroying thing. With the finally-sorted-out transmission, it runs well and reliably. But it is 14 years old. I need to find a buyer looking for a summer home vehicle.

      But I will wait to see if Kia reversed course on this generation minivan.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      You’re not the only one hanging on to the old Sedona. Mine’s an 08, 140k on it and still running fine. Getting more an more battered but still strong. Like you, I probably would have upgraded to the third generation except for that non-removable second row. In my case, the second row got stored the day I brought it home, and won’t go back in until the day it goes up for sale/trade.

      The second row on the newer ones are removable, there’s videos on YouTube telling you how. Just have a bunch of tools and an hour or two.

      No thanks.

  • avatar
    Cicero

    Kia/Hyundai has done remarkable things recently upgrading its market niche from something you bought because you couldn’t afford anything else to some finely-appointed examples of luxury and style at a bargain price.

    Here I’m a little dubious about the “Carnival” name though, since balloons and calliopes don’t exactly suggest serene composure and competence that you’d want in a minivan, err, crossover. I’ll give it a pass though if Kia carries the theme forward by naming some future CRV-fighter the Kia Clown Car.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      “since balloons and calliopes don’t exactly suggest serene composure and competence that you’d want in a minivan, err, crossover.”

      There’s the other kind of carnival though, which begs the question, can the seats be folded completely flat, or is the floor completely flat? Asking for a friend.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      Having much experience of driving around with a minivan full of kids, I will say that the experience is much closer to “clown car” than to “serene composure”. :)

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    It cribs a lot from Lincoln in styling, and looks pretty darn good for it.

  • avatar
    lstanley

    If any of you get the chance to drive one of these minivans that has close to 300hp, you should do so. Mash the gas and have laugh. These things can get-up and go.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    “grand utility vehicle (GUV)”

    Minivan name remains taboo.

    Carnival?

    How about Grand Carnival?

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Weimer

      Minivan was the thing 20+ years ago; now it’s minivan without sliding doors (3-row SUV) or ability to swallow large loads. Not an improvement, IMHO.

      I was surprised that I could get a 42″ riding mower into my 2001 Venture and close the hatch. Minivans are a surprisingly versatile form factor – our recent trend towards utility ignores that at it’s peril.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      :) Good call there – It’s almost an anagram for the Grand Caravan. (Much as the preceding sentence almost rhymes.) Therefore, “Kia Carnival” = “I Caravan Ilk”. A bold statement of its philosophical lineage. :)

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Kia actually uses the Grand Carnival name for the 11-seater version.

  • avatar
    gasser

    “Carnival” not macho enough for you ??? How about “Carnivore”?

  • avatar
    JMII

    Carnival… as in the cheap booze cruise line? Even the author of this article makes the reference. Literally the first thing I get in the auto-suggest search box for Carnival is “cruise”. Do companies not Google-check this stuff?

  • avatar
    SilverBullett

    Maybe they will get Kathi Lee Gifford as the official spokesperson for their ads!

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    This certainly seems to pull off the “totally not a minivan” styling better than the Uplander/Relay from about 15 years ago that GM, sorry gm, tried to fob off on us all those years ago. I kind of like that there isn’t a massive cliff in front of the driver and there’s a new traditional front clip.

  • avatar
    IanGTCS

    I think it’s a great looking vehicle that should compete very well in the admittedly small field. Doesn’t look too van like but still has sliding doors are great for making life easier. When it comes time to retire my wife’s forester in a few years I’ll be encouraging her to take a long look at these.

    • 0 avatar
      crtfour

      My wife a diehard Subaru fan went from a Forester to an Odyssey and she is very happy with the change. The Forester was a great wagon but the van is so much more practical.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Well, you do have clowns in a carnival so its an appropriate name for a KN.

  • avatar
    Moparmann

    Where will it atop?! SUV, CUV, now GUV!!! Oh, the inanity!!!

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      I recall when GM introduced the Envoy SUV with the retractable roof in the back and I believe a partition between the passenger area and cargo area. I believe they tried to make XUV a thing.

    • 0 avatar
      crtfour

      No kidding. As someone who likes vans, has one and does not like crossovers, they are not fooling anyone. If you can’t be seen in a van, just get a crossover ; you have a billion choices and won’t be fooling anyone by driving around in this “GUV”. This van does look very nice though.

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    The “GUV” acronym is corny, but I welcome more competition in the minivan segment.

  • avatar

    My first impression is that they should call it Karn Evil 9.

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