Kia all-in with Carnival MPV replacing Sedona in minivan market

By Paul Borden

(November 10, 2021) The 2022 Kia Carnival is yet another vehicle out of the South Korean automaker's assembly plant that merited a new name rather than simply being recognized as a “refreshening” of the model it replaces in the lineup. Like the 2021 K5 when it took over for the longstanding Optima sedan, the 2022 Kia Carnival replaces the outgoing Sedona nameplate that enjoyed a two-decade run in the minivan segment.

Kia publicists prefer to call it the 2022 Kia Carnival MPV for “Multi-Purpose Vehicle” though with a minivan’s boxy shape, sliding side doors, and three-row seating it is going to take a while for the MPV moniker to catch on.

Kia itself says the 2022 Carnival stakes a claim “on the unoccupied space between SUV and family hauler.” Frankly, I didn’t even know there was a space between the SUV and the family hauler, but apparently the folks at Kia’s California Design Studio think there is one.

Whatever you call it, the 2022 Kia Carnival debuts as a solid competitor to sales leaders Honda Odyssey and Chrysler Pacifica in the minivan segment. It does all the right things you want in a minivan and in an attractive manner that will ease some of the “soccer mom” scorn usually associated with the class.

Its 3.5-liter, V6 engine pumps out a significant 290 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque that gives you a feeling of confidence when negotiating expressways and interstates as well as when merging into intersections. The website caught the Carnival SX that this review is based on at 7.0 seconds for its zero-to-60 mph test with the SX Prestige a couple of ticks slower at 7.2.

That engine is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission, and that combination checks in with fuel-mileage rating of 19 miles-per-gallon city, 26 highway, and 22 combined. Towing capacity is listed at 3,500 pounds. The fuel numbers stack up favorably with its non-hybrid competitors, and the towing capacity is competitive among its rivals.

In addition to the SX and SX Prestige trims that sit at the top, the 2022 Kia Carnival also comes in LX (base) and EX trims. All 2022 Kia Carnival models are front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is not offered.

Though the sliding side doors are a dead giveaway, the Carnival has a sleeker look about it than the typical minivan usually has. From the direct front or rear, it could easily be mistaken for one of the numerous crossovers on the road today.

LED headlights and daytime running lights are standard across the line, and the SX gets LED fog lights as well.

Inside the 2022 Kia Carnival SX is roomy and loaded with numerous infotainment functions to keep tech-savvy people happy. Among the standard features on the SX are navigation with a 12.3 touchscreen, USB chargers on all three rows, an intercom system for communication between front- and third-row riders, wireless phone charger, heated front seats, power sliding doors (operable either via the key fob or a gentle tug on the door handle), tri-zone climate control, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Seating capacity is up to eight passengers with the second-row sliding chairs removable for more storage space. You can get up to 145.1 cubic feet behind the first row, 86.9 behind the second, and 40.2 with all seats in place.

SX models also get at no charge a surround view monitor (invaluable when maneuvering in tight spaces), a dual screen rear-seat entertainment system, parking assist, driver’s seat lumbar support, and memory driver’s seat and outside mirror position. The SX also gets a roof rack and rides on standard black 19-inch wheels.

The 2022 Kia Carnival also is the first with the company’s new, more modern-looking, logo.

The LX starts at $32,295 when the $1,175 destination and delivery charge is added on. The SX starts at $42,295. My test vehicle had only one charge for an option, $495 for the silver paint, which ran the final bottom line to $42,770.

What I liked about the 2022 Kia Carnival SX: At last, Kia has restored the knob to surf radio stations, making the infotainment system even more user friendly. The interior overall is roomy, especially when it comes to stowage area behind the back row seat. It drives and handles well for a minivan. Features include an Auto Hold function to keep you still when stopped at an intersection and the surround view camera and front and rear parking assist systems provide a comfortable feeling. Lots of safety features are included in the base price.

What I didn't like about the 2022 Kia Carnival SX: The storage box on the console could be bigger. Places to put odds and ends in general are somewhat limited throughout the cabin. It's not too difficult to get into the third row, but I wouldn't call it easy either. It's a low rider so be careful going over speed bumps.

Would I buy the 2022 Kia Carnival SX? As much scorn as the minivan segment might get, nobody yet has come up with a better vehicle for hauling families and all their stuff. The Carnival rates as one of the top newcomers in the segment so yes, if I was in the market for a minivan, I would give the 2022 Kia Carnival a long look and hope I could afford the SX.