2022 Kia Carnival leaves co-workers wondering

By Casey Williams

You should have seen the look on my co-worker’s face when I suggested buying the Kia Carnival MPV (really, a mini-van) over the similarly priced Kia Sorento crossover.  He just sat and looked at me, blank-faced from ear-to-ear, before saying, “I will not drive a mini-van!”  To which I replied, “Have you driven this mini-van, um MPV?”  Didn’t matter to him, but it should.  This is a pretty fetching two-box delight, ready for travels near and far.

Cool Box Styling

Designers understood they’d face resistance from the crossover class, but were up to the challenge of making a big box look cool.  This one greets air with a large concave version of Kia’s tiger tooth grille flanked by gleaming LED headlamps and fronting a wide powerful hood.  Slab sides are decorated by elegant satin silver C-pillars with diamonds that appear stamped in.  Silver roof rails, Kia’s new techno-script logo, and 19” black alloy wheels lend flair.  Its shape may say “family wagon”, but its style is considerably more “executive transport”.

I drove a Carnival back in June with the twin flatscreens and rear Barcaloungers that would be perfect for executives or spoiled families, but this one is a bit more sensible.  The driver’s instruments have real dials in our SX trim, and it can hauls eight passengers with a middle bench, but the Tuscan Umber color remains.  Rear riders enjoy twin flatscreens for movies and games while a 12.3” touchscreen with navigation and Apple/Android connectivity grace the dash.  A YMCA would be jealous of all the cubbies.  Wireless device charging, tri-zone climate control, and front heated/ventilated seats pour comforts. 

Handling With Power

My co-worker would sense an improvement over the Sorento’s already primo driving behavior.  The Carnival’s lower center of gravity allows it to drive more sedan than truck.  Moving this mass is a 3.5-liter V6 delivering 290 horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. of torque to the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.  Sport mode creates no more horsepower, but sharpens the throttle response and shift points.  Fuel economy of 19/26-MPG city/highway is good enough, but a hybrid would be even better.

Given the Carnival’s mission of carrying family and other loved ones, it comes equipped with all of the latest safety tech.  Adaptive cruise, forward collision warning with auto brake, and lane keep assist keep it on-point.  Blind spot warning, rear cross path with auto bake, and surround view monitor help too.  A rear seat alert system keeps kids from being left behind. 

I’ve offered to get my own family a mini-van, but like my friend, they wouldn’t have it.  That’s a shame because they provide enormous space, deft handling, surprising luxury, and spirited performance.  If my friend could just spend the miles I have behind the wheel of the Kia Carnival, he might change his mind.  A base price of $32,100 or $42,770 as-tested compares favorably to the taller boxes he’s considering.

Storm Forward!

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2022 Kia Carnival SX
8-passengers, FWD MPV
Powertrain: 3.5-L V6, 8-spd

Output: 290 hp/262 lb.-ft. 
Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind

Wheels f/r: 19”/19” alloy
Brakes f/r: disc/disc

Towing: 3500 lbs
Must-have features: Space, Driving
Fuel economy: 19/26-MPG city/hwy
Assembly: Sohari, Korea
Base/as-tested price: $32,100/$42,770