2022 Kia Carnival SX
Whatever you do, do not call it a minivan.
We are not sure why auto manufacturers continue to avoid the supposed stigma of anything being referred to as a minivan. Of course it could be as simple as sales for them have been on the plunge for a few years now. I would also like to pretend that I can’t understand that either, but then again it’s pretty obvious. Despite the fact that they are the most convenient and practical car you can buy, no one can deny they just aren’t cool. Let’s face it, no one is going to confuse one like they would an SUV, (cough) crossover going on some overland hipster-style adventure. Despite all this, Kia is out to change the trend and they may have timed it just right. More on that later. The all-new 2022 Kia Carnival multi-purpose vehicle is here and that’s right it’s not a minivan, it’s an MPV.
Kia brings us the Sedona replacement fresh from it’s California design studio. Underpinned by the same all-new 3rd generation “N3” platform as the Sorrento and K5. Kia’s engineers claim it to be lighter, stronger and quieter than the outgoing architecture. They achieved this by use of hot-stamped parts and ultra-high-strength steel. Kia also spent time focusing on the proper application of sound absorbing and insulating materials to reduce road noise. And like any new car these days albeit maybe the Bronco, they focused on aerodynamic improvement to increase fuel economy.
Kia loaned us the Carnival in the lovely SX Prestige trim at just the right time, as we were fresh into a new school year and had family in town at the same time. The MPV was the right tool for the job at just the right time. Our model, like all models, came with the new 3.5 liter V6 gas direct injection (GDI) Lambda III engine. This 3,470 cc unit makes best in class 290 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 262 lb-ft of torque at 5,000 rpm. Paired to a 8-speed auto this combo is good for 19 city and 26 hwy.
Not sure what they do out there in Cali as far as designing so many good things goes, but they’ve done it again with this. It’s definitely more bold and better styled than the outgoing Sedona. Kia continues to do a good job with unique design. Sure it’s similar to a Telluride but not too much. Kia has been so good at keeping brand identity but also different enough to not look like a smaller scale of other models within the brand. Now, as good as those Californians did with their styling, I hate to break it to Kia, it still looks like a minivan. There is only so much you can do to hide those sliding doors, the true dead give away of any minivan and they are easily recognizable here.
How does the MPV drive, well it drives like about every other FWD-biased unibody car out there. It’s smooth, quiet and relatively refined. Nothing to complain about and nothing to write home about. Is it better than the previous gen, sure it’s better. Is it the best driving minivan? No, but I guess technically it is the best driving MPV, so there’s that. The best part about the drive is unlike other FWD-biased unibody cars, it is very quiet. A trick that isn’t all that easy to do.
What does this car that no other car can do? Well, it’s those sliding doors again. No matter the stigma of minivans, you cannot beat a sliding door, especially an auto sliding door when you have little ones. And that is where this thing shines. Despite Kia calling it a MPV it does all the minivan stuff very well. It’s easy to get in and out of, no matter your age. And if you’re 10 or under your spot in the back is freaking cool! You get all the goodies you can imagine and your own moonroof. Parents, fear not, you also get the very handy spy cam so you can see what they’re up to.
We’ve had the chance to drive the Odyssey, Sienna and Pacifica this year and the Carnival is right in there with them. If I had to rank them, I would say the Odyssey is the best driver, the Pacifica has the best minivan tricks, the Sienna is what you get if you want to move people and get good MPG and this is what you get if you care about what it looks like. Don’t know about the whole MPV-talk but I do wonder if Kia has timed it just right. There are a lot of millennials that are having kids in the bunches right about now and they may just bring the minivan back. Heck, maybe they’ll catch on so well, that Kia will drop the MPV nonsense on the next refresh.