2022 Kia Carnival first drive review: A luxurious minivan with SUV style

Spacious and flexible, acceptable and safe – the minivan is a marvel of suburban utility. The problem is that most people don’t really want to see one driving by, so many shoppers turn diagonally toward SUVs looking for coolers. To deal with this, the major players of the class have pushed the Minion design in a direction that has perhaps been described as a “sci-fi bullet train” with mixed results.

Kia’s solution to the problem of uncontrolled perception is to design its new 2022 Carnival “multipurpose vehicle” in SUV cosplay. The result is a minivan that boasts all the benefits and features of its classmates, while sports utility style stands out as well as beauty.

Carnival wears an upright, boxy design with a Kia’s Telluride-like front shape compared to the size of a tip. Details like the L-shaped, chrome C-pillar break the profile of the minivan and are accompanied by skilled wheel arches and dark lower sills, which pull the eye upwards to create a longer, more rugged ride appearance. At first glance, the Carnival looks like a full-size SUV from almost all angles, but then you notice the inverted handles and tracks for the sliding doors and suddenly the Minivan-ness of the silhouette becomes apparent.

The first Kia to wear to Carnival is what I took to call the brand new “K-Backward-N” logo.

Antuan Goodwin / Roadshow

Vip seating

Carnival’s electric sliding doors open to reveal a spacious interior that is available in a seven- or eight-passenger configuration. The standard eight-seat setup features a 40/20/40-split second-row bench with center section that can bend to form a table-like armrest for outboard seats. The bench can also slide forward so that the passengers in the front seat can easily reach the car seat. The second line can also be completely removed when you need to reach Carnival’s maximum of 145.1 cubic feet of cargo capacity.

The base is upgraded from LX to EX or SX models and the fabric upholstery is replaced with synthetic leather. Step on top tip SX Prestige for genuine leather trim and in place of second row benches for power-adjustable VIP seats. These luxurious buckets automatically tilt or return directly at the touch of a button, and have warm and cool surfaces and can also be deployed on foot for maximum relaxation. The Prestige setup enhances the Carnival with a fairly luxurious shuttle from the well-appointed family of Harulars, offering more passenger space, more cargo capacity, and easier entry than a taller SUV. With the third-row flat, I can move the VIP seats back enough for a full driving and leg extension, even with the front seats in a comfortable driving position. Try to do this in an Escalade.

Kia’s minivan is not only to offer captain’s chairs, but these are more looks than all of them.

Antuan Goodwin / Roadshow

However, the seven-seater SX Prestige is not without its agreement. Non-qualified VIP seats mean that this trim maxes out at 86.9 cubes of cargo capacity behind the second row, and getting to the third row is more than a squeeze.

Speaking of that standard third row, there is plenty of legroom for two average-sized adults, and enough shoulder space for three children. Pulling a strap quickly closes a 60/40 split bench flat across the Carnival’s floor and a single bridge lifts it back up, leaving an impressive 40.2 cubic feet for cargo still.

In the options list, you’ll find the Kia’s smart power tailgate, which automatically unlocks the hatch when it reaches the back of the vehicle with the key in your pocket. I usually find this feature extremely annoying, but Kia may have improved its detection logic from earlier applications. I experienced almost no false-positive accidental openings during my testing, and the tailgate now automatically closes when you walk away, making loading groceries or other cargo a truly hands-free process.

Backseat tech

Carnival can be prepared with a dual-screen rear seat entertainment setup. Each of the features has USB and HDMI inputs that can be shared with other displays. Connecting to each phone or Wi-Fi hotspot can mirror the display of a power app or smartphone such as Netflix. There is also a colorful Kid Mode interface that serves child-accessible content. Bluetooth connectivity allows users to listen using almost any headphones, rather than relying on low-quality pack-ins.

The passenger camera and passenger talk feature help the driver to see and communicate with the occupants of the second and third lines.

Antuan Goodwin / Roadshow

An optional wide-angle passenger camera on the roof of the Carnival, with night vision, displays a bird’s view of the second and third rows on a multimedia screen. This upgrade works well with the Passenger Talk feature that enhances the driver’s voice on Carnival’s speakers, so they don’t have to shout to talk to third-line people.

When equipped with optional passenger voice recognition technology, second-line passengers can also issue commands to the dashboard UVO system. This is helpful for getting destination suggestions from adults in VIP seats, but is also defeatable when you need to keep a van full of children to request a Baby Shark for the fifty-seventh time.

Front seat tech

At the front, Kia’s latest generation UVO infotainment is housed in the dashboard. The 8-inch display is standard, but the EX, SX and SX Prestige models all upgrade to the 12.3-inch display. anyhow, Android Auto And Apple carplay Connectivity is also standard with USB – but not wireless – connectivity. UVO packs its intuitive interface with unique features like voice memo recording, sounds of nature (quiet waves, forest or bustling cafes), and a quiet mode that limits media volume and disables rear speakers – Useful when children are doing dozens. back.

The customizable star shortcut button on the dashboard – a small feature you’ll find on other Kia’s UVO systems – is incorporated by a second customizable button on the steering wheel, allowing drivers to map features like a passenger camera or passenger Is found. One press.

Carnival has nine USB ports (seven standard) for charging mobile devices spread across three rows.

Antuan Goodwin / Roadshow

The LX, EX and SX trims all feature traditional physical gauges and a small 4.3-inch information display. The SX Prestige upgrade is a 12.3-inch fully digital instrument cluster with four user selectable themes, including a dynamic setting that changes with the time of day. The digital cluster also integrates Kia’s blind spot view feature, which displays the camera feed of the adjacent lane when the corresponding turn signal is activated.

DriveWise Security Suite

Kia’s DriveWise Advanced Driver-Assistance System suite is standard on all Carnival models. It allows you front, rear and lane-change collision detection, front-end automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, and a rear camera. The Drive Wise also rolls under the driver’s watch and has a sonar-based rear occupant alert that prevents a child or pet from accidentally getting into a parked vehicle.

The EX trim raises park distance warnings, increasing collision avoidance, which can also detect cyclist and highway driving assistant, Kia’s umbrella technology, which rolls in navigation-based adaptive cruise control that stops-and-go. Traffic and enhanced lane-keep operate in steering assist. Upgrading to SX surrounds the online camera system. Finally, the full-fat SX Prestige completes the safety suite with the said blind-spot camera technology.

Performance and efficiency

The only powertrain offered at the 2022 Carnival is the 3.5-liter V6 paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. Despite looking like an SUV, all-wheel drive is not an option. On the bright side, the 290 horsepower mimics the Carry with very good hustle for a minivan, and 262 pound-feet of torque is enough twist to tow a 3,500-pound trailer.

Handling is soft, but comfortable. Carnival is not the prettiest dancer on a twisted street, but the minivan manages to stay off its toes making it feel safe. Steering is responsive, but body roll and understairs are noticeable at speed. This, of course, is fine. Despite Toyota’s marketing for the new Siena, I don’t think anyone shopping for a minivan is looking for “sport-tuned handling”. More importantly, Carnival does a fantastic job, absorbing bumps with bumps and communicating well to the driver to their limits and enough to get out of trouble.

The EPA estimates a combined 19 miles per gallon city, 26 mpg highway, or 22 mpg from the 2022 Carnival. The other front-drive in the range is with the V6-powered minivan. Different drive modes – Normal, Eco, Smart and Sport – will have some impact on the Kia’s performance and efficiency balance, but over the course of three days, testing both SX and SX Prestige trim levels in different conditions, and more. My average of 21.7 mpg was almost spot on with those estimates.

Kia has a bet that a house will be found in the gray area between the minivan and SUV at the carnival.

Antuan Goodwin / Roadshow

Pricing and competition

The 2022 Kia Carnival starts at $ 33,275 (including its $ 1,175 destination fee) for the base LX model and tops out at $ 47,275 for the fully loaded SX Prestige. Add $ 200 for floor mats and $ 495 for premium Astra Blue paint to reach a total price of $ 49,970. I would like to be picked up from the airport in Cary with only VIP seating so far, but for families looking for maximum space for people and cargo, the dessert location is an eight-passenger SX model that starts at $ 42,275.

Carnival prices are competitively pitted against Chrysler Pacific, Honda Odyssey and Toyota sienna. However, Chrysler and Toyota offer all-wheel drive, hybrid and plug-in hybrid configurations that increase the price range but also bring significant performance and fuel economy advantages. Also consider that the sports-utility style of Carnival has the potential to entice some families away from new SUV purchases, so one could be an indirect competitor to such things as Kia’s own Telluride.

The Kia might call it an MPV and style it like an SUV, but what matters is that the Carnival is a very good minivan. The designers of Kia have pulled this stylized dupatta with aplomb. With the 2022 Carnival now coming to dealerships, the automaker can only hope that shoppers feel it is as good as it gets.

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