2022 Kia Carnival SX Prestige
Miles Driven: 982
Fuel Used: 39.1 gallons
|CG Report Card
|Room and Comfort
|Power and Performance
|Fit and Finish
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.
|Big & Tall Comfort
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.
|290-hp 3.5 liter
Real-world fuel economy: 25.1 mpg
Driving mix: 15% city, 85% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 19/26/22 (mpg city/highway/combined)
Fuel type: Regular Gas
Base price: $46,100 (not including $1175 destination charge)
Options on test car: Astra Blue paint ($495)
Price as tested: $47,770
The great: Excellent passenger room and comfort; satisfying acceleration; very respectable highway fuel economy for a vehicle of this size and power
The good: Distinctive styling; upscale trim inside and out; broad array of comfort and convenience features
The not so good: Second-row reclining “lounge” seats are of dubious value and can’t be removed; hybrid and/or all-wheel-drive powertrains aren’t available; ride quality is slightly less composed than leading class rivals’
Leave it to your friends here at Consumer Guide Automotive to pass on some Carnival knowledge. Kia has a brand-new minivan by that festive name that drops as a 2022 replacement for the Sedona and aims to blur the line between minivan and SUV—at least in terms of appearances. Confined to a single powerteam and front-wheel drive, it comes in four trim levels, the highest of which includes just about everything but a calliope.
The Carnival has a bulkier profile than the Sedona, with straighter lines through the bodysides, a more angular A-pillar, less hood slope, and a broad grille connected to the headlights—all of which Kia hopes will make observers think SUV. Sliding rear doors tell a different story, though. (The manufacturer calls it an MPV—for “multipurpose vehicle.”) The Carnival has 1.2 inches more wheelbase, 1.6 inches additional bumper-to-bumper length, and a whopping 11.1 inches of extra width than the brand’s departing minivan for respective totals of 121.7, 203, and 89.2 inches.
There’s also extra beef under the hood, where a 3.5-liter V6 replaces a similarly configured 3.3-liter mill. It makes 290 horsepower at 6400 rpm—a gain of 14 ponies—and 262 lb-ft of torque at 5000 rpm.
CG tested the Carnival that comes from the head of the class, the SX Prestige, with a $47,275 starting price that includes delivery. (Other trims are, in descending order, SX, EX, and LX.) The only extra on the tester was its Astra Blue paint. There are no option packages for the Carnival, but a number of stand-alone items are offered.
The SX Prestige is bestowed with a substantial list of standard items beyond what the lesser models have on hand, and we’ll get to them after we single out what must be its most distinctive feature: VIP Lounge Seats in the second row. These basically are a pair of heated and ventilated power-adjusted loungers with a generous amount of backrest recline and a retractable footrest. It shouldn’t be a challenge for passengers to slip into a restful nap when perched on the VIP seats, but operating them might not be as easy. The seats first have to be manually adjusted toward the middle of the vehicle, but they don’t completely come together to form a small bench because space must be left for power control panels on the inboard sides of the cushions, and the controls are a somewhat complex set of haptic buttons. Use of the seats comes with several limitations and advisories—they shouldn’t be used when there are third-row passengers, for instance—and they can’t be removed or folded flat, which means maximum cargo capacity in Prestiges is 86.9 cubic feet, not 145.1 as in other models. Their location also complicates passage to the third row.
Beyond the seats, numerous other things turn an SX into an SX Prestige. External features are LED projection headlights, LED taillights, and dual power sunroofs. Interior upgrades include leather upholstery, Blind-Spot View Monitor, Bose premium audio system, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, heated steering wheel, auto-dimming rearview mirror, and Homelink remote garage-door opener.
Those Prestige items are added to an equipment list that boasts roof rails, 19-inch black alloy wheels, power liftgate and sliding side doors, heated and ventilated power front seats (with driver’s-seat memory), tri-zone automatic air conditioning, 360-degree surround-view monitor, UVO link remote connectivity, navigation, dual-screen rear-seat entertainment system, Passenger View in-cabin camera and Passenger Talk intercom, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility, wireless charging, satellite radio, keyless entry and starting, and twin 115-volt power outlets. Kia Drive Wise safety and driver-assistance technologies bundle up automatic emergency braking with junction-turn and cyclist detection, blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert and avoidance, lane-keeping and lane-following assists, light-autonomy Highway Drive Assist, reverse parking-collision avoidance assist, Safe Exit Assist, and Rear Occupant Alert.
Underneath it all is a fully independent suspension that delivers a comfortable ride with commendable handling. The Carnival responds well to steering inputs and feels well balanced during lane changes and in curves. There’s enough power on tap for alert standing-start getaways, easy highway cruising, and a 3500-pound towing capacity. “Normal,” “Sport,” “Eco,” and “Smart” drive modes make slight impacts on driving performance. Working through an 8-speed automatic transmission, the Carnival is rated by the EPA at 19 mpg in city driving, 26 mpg on the highway, and 22 combined. CG’s aggregate fuel economy of 25.1 mpg in the test vehicle (boosted by a long-distance highway trip) was right on par with the EPA numbers.
Passenger room is excellent in the front two rows. Two adults can sit with moderate comfort in the third row—especially if second-row occupants don’t need to use their full seat travel—but headroom is reduced. The interior has a good amount of soft-surface areas, and driving instruments and infotainment display well and are fairly easy to operate. The climate system has temperature toggles and clearly marked buttons that are easy to reach.
Personal-item storage relies on big glove and console boxes, good sized front-door pockets, a pocket on the passenger side of the console, net pouches on the backs of the front seats, and bottle holders in the sliding doors. Cup holders are installed at the front and back of the console, and in rear sidewalls for use by third-row passengers. With the rearmost seats in use, 40.2 cubic feet of cargo space is available. To get more requires stowing the 60/40-split third-row seat by hand with a mix of release levers (in the backs of the seats) and pull cords—which is sometimes quicker than power activation.
Some competing minivans offer all-wheel drive—which would help make the almost-an-SUV case for this new Kia—and available hybrid powertrains. Without these features, the Carnival makes its play with abundant comfort, convenience, and safety features; bold styling; and acceptable pricing.
2022 Kia Carnival SX Prestige Gallery
(Click below for enlarged images)
Test Drive: 2022 Kia Carnival SX Prestige
Test Drive: 2022 Kia Carnival SX Prestige