Review: I Actually Fell In Love With the 2022 Kia Carnival Minivan, But It’s Not For The Reason You Think

There's more to discuss here as the minivan fight heats up

2022 Kia Carnival — Driving
(Image: TFLcar)

There’s nothing wrong with imitating the joys of a full-on SUV.

The 2022 Kia Carnival deserves high marks for trying. There is just one issue.

I admire the designers here, because they came close to making people forget that this replacement for the Sedona minivan IS a minivan. As a matter of fact, there are only a few critical angles that give the Carnival away. I’ll circle back to that in a moment.

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What is the 2022 Kia Carnival?

Simply put: the Carnival is (for the United States) a replacement for the Kia Sedona that’s been on our roads for quite a while. In every other market, this MPV (Multi Purpose Vehicle – Kia speak) has been called the Carnival for a while. So, in essence, it’s not a new name. What is new is just about everything else.

The Kia Carnival comes with one powertrain: a 3.5-liter V6 that makes a class leading 290 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission sends power to the front wheels – and only the front wheels. It sits at 6.8 inches of ground clearance, which is more than all – except the Toyota Sienna Woodland – which is 6.9-inches off the ground. That ground clearance, combined with the exterior design helps make the Carnival look a lot like an SUV.

The one powertrain combo returns an estimated 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway and a combined 22 mpg. It is pretty efficient for a non-hybrid minivan. It also has best in class passenger and cargo space. That is if its competition is leveled against minivans.

I know we go on and on about the branding of this vehicle. My reasoning is based on Kia doing an impressive job taking a lot of the minivan shape out of the equation.

More on the design

Right now, in the United States, there are four automakers that sell minivans in out market, and they all look like minivans. The Toyota Sienna was recently redesigned, but it’s more boxy than ever. The Odyssey and Chrysler Pacifica are fairly handsome, but they make no effort to hide their true intent. Now that the Kia Sedona has become the Carnival, it has distanced itself from the rest.

By changing the entire front end design, which looks like an SUV hood, it loses the typical minivan stubby nose. The windows are squished down a bit, and the rear quarter looks like a Ford or GM SUV. Many people I spoke to during my loan with the “MPV,” thought it was an SUV. The side profile truly looks SUV-ish. That is, until you lay your eyes on the center section, and the sliding door track. It’s is pretty obvious, and the rear end absolutely looks like a minivan.

Still, it’s a mighty good attempt at making it look unique. It does look like the combination of an SUV and a minivan, which is why I say it’s “neither fish nor fowl.” If it has all-wheel drive – I would call it an even better attempt.

In this video, we take a closer look at the Carnival, and we use our buddy Geoff to put the interior of this vehicle to the test!