Spacious and versatile, approachable and secure — the minivan is a marvel of suburban utility. The issue is that most individuals do not truly need to be seen driving one, so many consumers skew towards cooler-looking SUVs. To fight this, the main gamers within the class have pushed minivan design in a course that is maybe finest described as “sci-fi bullet prepare” with blended outcomes.

Kia’s resolution to the issue of uncool notion is to decorate its new 2022 Carnival “multipurpose car” in SUV cosplay. The result’s a minivan that boasts the entire benefits and facilities of its classmates, whereas standing aesthetically aside with sport utility fashion.

The Carnival wears an upright, boxy design with a entrance finish formed extra like Kia’s Telluride than the Sedona it replaces. Particulars just like the L-shaped, chrome C-pillars break up the minivan’s profile and, together with the sculpted wheel arches and darkish decrease sills, assist pull the attention upward to create the looks of a taller, extra rugged journey. At first look, the Carnival appears virtually precisely like a full-size SUV from most angles, however you then discover the reversed handles and tracks for the sliding doorways and, all of a sudden, the minivan-ness of the silhouette turns into obvious.

The Carnival is the primary Kia to put on what I’ve taken to calling the model’s new “Okay-backwards-N” emblem.

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VIP seating

The Carnival’s energy sliding doorways open to disclose a spacious inside that is accessible in seven- or eight-passenger configurations. The usual eight-seat setup incorporates a 40/20/40-split second-row bench with a middle part that may fold over to create a table-like armrest for the outboard seats. The bench also can slide far sufficient ahead permitting entrance seat passengers to simply attain a automotive seat. The second row can be fully eliminated when you’ll want to entry the Carnival’s most 145.1 cubic toes of cargo capability.

Improve from the bottom LX to an EX or SX mannequin and the fabric upholstery is changed with synthetic leather-based. Step as much as the highest spec SX Status for actual leather-based trim and a pair of power-adjustable VIP seats instead of the second-row bench. These luxurious buckets mechanically recline or return upright on the contact of a button, and so they function heated and cooled surfaces and might even deploy footrests for optimum leisure. The Status setup elevates the Carnival from a properly appointed household hauler to a reasonably luxurious shuttle with extra passenger house, extra cargo capability and simpler entry than a taller SUV can supply. With the third row folded flat, I can slide the VIP seats far sufficient again for a full recline and leg extension, even with the entrance seats in a cushty driving place. Strive doing that in an Escalade.

Kia’s minivan is not the one one to supply reclining captain’s chairs, however these are a contact extra luxe than most.

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The seven-seat SX Status is not with out its compromises, nevertheless. The nonremovable VIP seats imply this trim maxes out at 86.9 cubes of cargo capability behind the second row, and attending to the third row is extra of a squeeze.

Talking of that commonplace third row, there’s loads of legroom again there for 2 average-size adults, and sufficient shoulder house for 3 children. Pulling a strap shortly folds the 60/40 break up bench flat into the Carnival’s flooring and a single pull lifts it again up, leaving a still-impressive 40.2 cubic toes for cargo.

On the choices record, you will discover Kia’s sensible energy tailgate, which mechanically opens the hatch while you strategy the rear of the car with the important thing in your pocket. I often discover this function extraordinarily annoying, however Kia should have improved its detection logic from earlier purposes. I skilled virtually no false-positive unintended openings throughout my testing, and the tailgate now mechanically closes while you stroll away, making loading groceries or different cargo a very hands-free course of.

Backseat tech

The Carnival will be outfitted with a dual-screen rear seat leisure setup. Every options USB and HDMI inputs that may be shared with the opposite show. Every can hook up with a telephone or Wi-Fi hotspot to energy apps like Netflix or mirror a smartphone’s show. There’s additionally a colourful Child Mode interface that serves up child-friendly content material. Bluetooth connectivity permits customers to pay attention utilizing virtually any headphones they already personal, relatively than counting on low-quality pack-ins.

The Passenger Digital camera and Passenger Discuss options assist the driving force to look at and talk with occupants within the second and third rows.

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An non-obligatory wide-angle Passenger Digital camera on the Carnival’s ceiling shows a chook’s-eye view of second and third rows on the multimedia display screen, full with night time imaginative and prescient. This improve works nicely in tandem with the Passenger Discuss function that amplifies the driving force’s voice over the Carnival’s audio system, so they do not need to shout to talk to people within the third row. 

When outfitted with the non-obligatory Passenger Voice Recognition tech, second-row passengers also can problem instructions to the dashboard UVO system. That is useful for getting vacation spot ideas from adults within the VIP seats, however can also be defeatable when you’ll want to preserve a van full of youngsters from requesting Child Shark for the fifty-leventh time.

Entrance seat tech

Up entrance, Kia’s latest-generation UVO infotainment lives within the dashboard. An 8-inch show is commonplace, however EX, SX and SX Status fashions all improve to a 12.3-inch show. Both method, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity are additionally commonplace with USB — however not wi-fi — connectivity. UVO packs its intuitive interface with distinctive options like voice memo recording, Sounds of Nature (like calm waves, a forest or bustling cafe) and a quiet mode that limits media quantity and disables the rear audio system — helpful for when children are dozing within the again.

The customizable star shortcut button on the dashboard — a small function that you will discover on Kia’s different UVO methods — is joined by a second customizable button on the steering wheel, permitting drivers to map options just like the Passenger Digital camera or Passenger Discuss to a single press.

There are as much as 9 USB ports (seven are commonplace) for charging cell gadgets unfold throughout the Carnival’s three rows.

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LX, EX and SX trims all function conventional bodily gauges and a small 4.3-inch info show. The SX Status upgrades to a 12.3-inch totally digital instrument cluster with 4 user-selectable themes, together with a dynamic setting that modifications together with the time of day. The digital cluster additionally integrates Kia’s Blind Spot View function, displaying a digital camera feed of the adjoining lane when the corresponding flip sign is activated. 

DriveWise security suite

Kia’s DriveWise superior driver-assistance system suite is commonplace on all Carnival fashions. That will get you entrance, rear and lane-change collision detection, ahead computerized emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping help, blind-spot monitoring and a rear digital camera. DriveWise additionally rolls in driver consideration monitoring and a sonar-based rear occupant alert that stops unintentionally leaving a toddler or pet within the parked car.

The EX trim provides park distance warnings, enhanced collision avoidance that may additionally detect cyclists and Freeway Driving Assistant, Kia’s umbrella expertise that rolls in navigation-based adaptive cruise management that works in stop-and-go visitors and enhanced lane-keeping steering help. Upgrading to SX brings a encompass view digital camera system on-line. Lastly, the full-fat SX Status completes the protection suite with the aforementioned blind-spot digital camera tech.

Efficiency and effectivity

The one powertrain provided within the 2022 Carnival is a 3.5-liter V6 paired with an eight-speed computerized transmission and front-wheel drive. Regardless of trying like an SUV, all-wheel drive just isn’t an choice. On the brilliant aspect, 290 horsepower imbues the Carny with fairly good hustle for a minivan, and the 262 pound-feet of torque is sufficient twist to tow as much as a 3,500-pound trailer.

Dealing with is tender, however comfy. The Carnival is not essentially the most sleek dancer on a twisty highway, however the minivan manages to remain off of its personal toes nicely sufficient that it feels secure. The steering is responsive, however physique roll and understeer are noticeable at pace. That is, after all, superb. Regardless of Toyota’s advertising and marketing for the brand new Sienna, I do not suppose that anybody purchasing for a minivan is in search of “sport-tuned dealing with.” Extra importantly, the Carnival does a terrific job absorbing bumps with poise and speaking its limits to the driving force nicely and early sufficient to remain out of bother.

The EPA estimates 19 miles per gallon metropolis, 26 mpg freeway or 22 mpg mixed from the 2022 Carnival. That is on par with different front-drive, V6-powered minivans on this class. The varied drive modes — Regular, Eco, Sensible and Sport — may have some impact on the Kia’s efficiency and effectivity stability, however over the course of three days, testing each the SX and SX Status trim ranges in quite a lot of conditions, my common of 21.7 mpg was virtually spot-on with these estimates.

Kia’s betting that the Carnival will discover a house within the grey space between minivans and SUVs.

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Pricing and competitors

The 2022 Kia Carnival begins at $33,275 (together with its $1,175 vacation spot cost) for the bottom LX mannequin and tops out at $47,275 for the totally loaded SX Status. Add $200 for flooring mats and $495 for the premium Astra Blue paint to succeed in an as-tested value of $47,970. I solely ever need to be picked up from the airport in a Carny with VIP seating any more, however for households seeking to maximize house for individuals and cargo, the candy spot is the eight-passenger SX mannequin beginning at $42,275.

The Carnival is priced and appointed competitively towards the Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. Nevertheless, Chrysler and Toyota supply all-wheel drive, hybrid and plug-in hybrid configurations that elevate the worth ceiling but additionally carry important efficiency and gasoline economic system benefits. Additionally take into account that the Carnival’s sport-utility fashion has the potential to tempt a number of households on the fence away from a brand new SUV buy, so one might make the case for it being an oblique competitor to one thing like Kia’s personal Telluride as nicely.

Kia can name it an MPV and elegance it like an SUV, however what issues is that the Carnival is a rattling good minivan. Kia’s designers have pulled off this stylistic double-take with aplomb. With the 2022 Carnival arriving in dealerships now, the automaker can solely hope that consumers suppose it is as cool as I do.

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