This is the Sedona with a new name, imported directly from South Korea

The Kia Carnival name might sound new to you, but Kia has been using it for this exact minivan in various markets since its introduction since 1998. Up until this point, you’ve known it as the Kia Sedona, but with the transition into the fourth-generation – which has been on sale in South Korea since September 2020 and in parts of Europe as of March of 2021. It will hit the North American market in July of 2021, but we managed to get behind the wheel of the new Carnival beforehand. This is what you need to know about the 2022 Kia Carnival.

2020 Kia Carnival - Powertrain & Performance

2022 Kia Carnival - Driven Exterior
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As a family vehicle at its core, the Kia Carnival isn’t to be confused with anything that offers high-end performance, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun to drive. In fact, it offers better power output that both of its main competitors, the Chrysler Pacifica and Honda Odyssey, and it’s very competitive when it comes fuel economy too.

What powers the 2022 Kia Carnival?

2022 Kia Carnival - Driven Exterior
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The Kia Carnival is powered by the 3.5-liter SmartstreamG3 5 GDi V-6 that’s good for 290 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. This is pretty standard across the very small minivan market as the Chrysler Pacifica is powered by a 3.6-liter V-6 with 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque while the Honda Odyssey features a 3.5-liter V-6 with 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. All three models are heavy, however, so don’t expect extreme performance. You will, however, enjoy a comfortable ride with decent acceleration that won’t leave you wishing for more – as long as you remember that you’re in a minivan, anyway.

Kia Carnival Chrysler Pacifica Honda Odyssey
Engine 3.5-liter V-6 3.6-Liter V-6 3.5-Liter V-6
Horsepower 290 HP 287 HP 280 HP
Torque 262 LB-FT 262 LB-FT 262 LB-FT
Transmission 8AT 9AT 10AT
Driveline FWD FWD FWD
Fuel Regular Unleaded Regular Unleaded Regular Unleaded
Steering Electric Electric Electric
Suspension Front Independent Four-Wheel Independent Four-Wheel Independent
Tires P235/65R17 P235/65R17 P235/55R19
Curb Weight 4,376 LBS 4,521 LBS 4,603 LBS
Fuel Economy 19/26/22 17/25/20 19/28/22

What Transmission Does the Kia Carnival Have?

2022 Kia Carnival - Driven Interior
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The Kia Carnival comes exclusively with an eight-speed automatic across the entire range of trims. The transmission shifts comfortably up and down, making for a nice ride in most conditions. In comparison, the Chrysler Pacifica features a nine-speed automatic while the Honda Odyssey features a 10-speed auto. However, it should be noted that this eight-speed automatic transmission may be one of the Carnival’s weak points as one could argue that it could achieve better gas mileage with more forward gears.

Kia Carnival Fuel Economy

2022 Kia Carnival - Driven Exterior
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The Kia Carnival is rated at 19 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway, and 22 mpg combined. While this doesn’t seem like a lot in a world where hybrid vehicles, even heavy ones, manage to attain upward of 40 mpg, it’s also not bad for the segment. It does, however, fall short of one of its competitors. The Honda Odyssey, is the real bread winner with the same 19 mpg in the city, but 28 mpg on the highway. Somehow, it manages to get the same 22 mpg combined. Meanwhile, the Chrysler Pacific is the loser here with a rating of 17 mpg in the city, 25 mpg on the highway, and 20 mpg combined.

2022 Kia Carnival Interior Design

2022 Kia Carnival - Driven Interior
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The Kia Carnival feels very upscale on the onset, especially at first glance. In fact, if it wasn’t for the tall automatic shifter, the layout of the instrument cluster and infotainment system might trick you, just for a second, into thinking this is a Mercedes. Of course, at this price point, there’s still enough plastic “Kia-like,” trim to make that sentiment go away, but the point is that the cabin, especially up front is very attractive. The front layout feels more like an SUV than a minivan with the high-sitting center console and divided center stack. Upper trim levels receive decent amounts soft material too. Our tester had a bi-color layout and while the burnt orange on black seemed a little off putting at first, it grew on us quickly.

2022 Kia Carnival - Driven Interior
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The second row features a three-seat layout with a captain’s chair on either side. These slide forward to make ingress and egress to\from the third row easy enough. The back of the middle seat folds down to provide a nice armrest, table, and a pair of cup holders. Overall, the second row is, arguably, just as comfortable to sit in as the front, and there’s plenty of space to go around.

2022 Kia Carnival - Driven Interior
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The third row, much like every other minivan, feels like it was added as an afterthought. The seat cushions are almost flat as are the back rests. It works for hauling a lot of people around, but we promise you people sitting in the third row won’t be anywhere near as happy as those in the second row. Outside of this, there is at least decent legroom for the third row, and there is a pair of cup holders on each side for the rear-most passengers. Because of the Carnival’s design, though, even shorter adults will find it difficult to see out the rear side glass, and if you have a younger child, they won’t be able to see anything but the sky.

How Spacious is the Interior of the Kia Carnival

2022 Kia Carnival - Driven Interior
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The Kia Carnival is very spacious, especially in the first and second rows. The first row beats out both the Chrysler Pacific and Honda Odyssey hands down. The second row, either falls just a hair short of the competition or is a bit more spacious. Unfortunately, none of these automakers have provided details for the third row, but in general, third rows are small anyway. Check out the table below to see how the Kia Carnival stacks up with the Pacifica and Odyssey in terms of interior space.

Kia Carnival vs competition - interior dimensions
Kia Carnival Chrysler Pacifica Honda Odyssey
Front Headroom 40.9 40.1 38.7
Front Shoulder Room 64.2 63.8 63.1
Front Hip Room 59.8 59 58.6
Front Leg Room 41.1 41.1 40.9
Rear Headroom 39.5 39.6 39.2
Rear Shoulder Room 63.2 63 61.6
Rear Hip Room 66.4 64.8 64.8
Rear Leg Room 40.5 39 40.9

How Much Cargo Room Does the Kia Carnival Have?

2022 Kia Carnival - Driven Interior
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The Kia Carnival offers up 40.2 cubic-feet of cargo room in its base configuration with all seats in place, however, this can be expanded to as much as 145.1 cubic-feet if your move the second row forward and lay down the rear seats. The cool part about the Carnival, however, is the unique way the rear seats fold to create the flat floor that you see above. To increase base cargo room, the rear cargo area has a huge sunk in area that’s perfect for groceries. However, when you lay down the rear seats, they fold down into this hold to create a flat loading floor. To get the most cargo room, you then slide the second row as far forward as possible for a rather massive cargo area.

2022 Kia Carnival - Driven Interior
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In comparison, the Carnival is the bread winner in cargo room without making any changes to the interior, with the Pacifica good for just 32.3 cubic-feet and the Odyssey good for just 38.6 cubic-feet. The Pacifica falls interior in the max cargo room category too, buy just under 5 cubic-feet at 140.5 cubic-feet total. The Honda Odyssey, however, is the really winner here with a maximum of 155.7 cubic-feet of cargo room, 10.6 cubic-feet more than Carnival and almost 15 cubic-feet more than the Pacifica.

2022 Kia Carnival Exterior Design

2022 Kia Carnival - Driven Exterior
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The Kia Carnival has a bit of an identity crisis going on. As a replacement for the Sedona and marketed as an MPV in other parts of the world, you’d expect the usual minivan proportions, but the fourth-gen Carnival honestly looks more like an SUV than a minivan – at least from most angles, anyway. It is an attractive vehicle nonetheless, but from the front view, it looks more SUV than van. We’d be able to say the same for the side profile, but the tracks for the sliding doors clearly mark this as a van. The rear side glass is reminiscent of several GM products that I’ll avoid naming for now. The relatively flat roofline helps add to the SUV look.

2022 Kia Carnival - Driven Exterior
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Around back is where it becomes clear that this is a minivan. It appears as if Kia tried to maintain the boxy look, but there’s still just enough bubbliness to expose what this vehicle really is. The very tall rear hatch looks a little big at first, but once you try to load something in the rear, you’ll be very thankful for the low loading height. In short, and as far as aesthetics go, the Kia Carnival is the perfect blend between minivan and SUV. In fact, you might even get away without jokes from your buddies when you’re stuck driving the wife’s car.

How Big is the Kia Carnival?

2022 Kia Carnival - Driven Exterior
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The Kia Carnival isn’t a small vehicle by any means, measuring 203-inches long, 78.5-inches wide, and 68.5-inches tall. It also rides on a 121.7-inch wheelbase. In terms of garaging, don’t expect this baby to fit in a single car and a 1.5-car might be a tight fit, although is should be enough if you’re careful and only use it for vehicle storage – just be sure to check the dimensions of your garage first if this is a concern for you. On that note, and despite the spacious interior, the Carnival is actually smaller than both the Chrysler Pacifica and Honda Odyssey by more than an inch in length and height. The Pacifica is wider by an inch, while the Odyssey is just as wide. To see how they really stack up with one another, check out the table below!

Kia Carnival vs competition - exterior dimensions
Kia Carnival Chrysler Pacifica Honda Odyssey
Length 203 204.3 205.2
Width 78.5 79.6 78.5
Height 68.5 69.9 69.6
Wheelbase 121.7 121.6 118.1
Front Track TBA TBA TBA
Rear Track TBA TBA TBA

How Much Does the Kia Carnival Weigh

2022 Kia Carnival - Driven Exterior
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The 2022 Kia Carnival tips the scales at just over 2 ton, with a curb weight of 4,376 pounds. This is quite heavy, but it is a larger vehicle, and it’s actually lighter than both the Chrysler Pacifica and Honda Odyssey at 4,521 pounds and 4,603 pounds, respectively.

2022 Kia Carnival Pricing

2022 Kia Carnival - Driven Exterior
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The Kia Carnival is priced extremely competitively with a starting price of $32,100, which makes it as affordable as the entry-level Honda Odyssey and about $3,700 cheaper than the base model Chrysler Pacifica. The range-topping Carnival is also a great value for the money at $46,100, which is also cheaper than the Honda Odyssey at $47,820 and the Chrysler Pacifica at $54,095.

Kia Carnival Competitors

The SUV market might be booming, but the minivan market is just hanging on by a thread, so there’s not a lot of competition out there for the Kia Carnival. So far, we’ve compared it to the Honda Odyssey and the Chrysler Pacifica, so we’ll take a deeper look at those here.

Is The Kia Carnival Better Than the Chrysler Pacifica

left right

The Chrysler Pacifica essentially replaced the Chrysler Town & Country when it launched in 2017 and it went through a decent facelift for the 2021 model year. Since Chrysler is more of a mid-level luxury brand, you’ll find decent helpings of leather, namely on the seats and steering wheel, the latter of which is very soft and comfortable to hold. Like the Carnival, the second row is also very comfortable and the captains chairs are a nice touch. The door panels and other trim pieces, however, are still of your typical plastic variety, however, even after a few years on the road, they hold up well and are free of rattles. The rear-most seat is also flat and not that comfortable, but there is enough space for grown adults back there.

left right

Motivation is provided by the very familiar 3.6-liter V-6 with 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. The Pacifica is dominantly a FWD vehicle, however, it’s now the only model that can be had with a traditional (i.e. mechanical) AWD system. The Toyota Sienna can be had with AWD, but it now features the company’s new electric AWD system. Fuel economy comes in at 17 mpg in the city, 25 mpg on the highway, and 20 mpg combined, which puts it below both the Odyssey and the Carnival, however, it is a little more luxurious, so it does have that going for it. Oddly enough, hard acceleration sounds a lot like that of a Hellcat engine, and while it’s not near as fast, it does sound pretty cool for a minivan. In the end, the extra luxuriousness will cost you, though, as it’s the most expensive of the bunch with a starting price of $35,820 and a range-topping price of $54,095.

Kia Carnival vs Chrysler Pacifica
Kia Carnival Chrysler Pacifica
Engine 3.5-liter V-6 3.6-Liter V-6
Horsepower 290 HP 287 HP
Torque 262 LB-FT 262 LB-FT
Transmission 8AT 9AT
Driveline FWD FWD
Fuel Regular Unleaded Regular Unleaded
Steering Electric Electric
Suspension Front Independent Four-Wheel Independent
Tires P235/65R17 P235/65R17
Curb Weight 4,376 LBS 4,521 LBS
Fuel Economy 19/26/22 17/25/20

Read our full review on the Chrysler Pacifica

Is The Kia Carnival Better Than The Honda Odyssey?

left right

The Honda Odyssey has the most controversial design of the bunch. It’s clearly a minivan, and it features Honda’s most recent styling language, but despite being updated for the 2022 model year, the front end still looks a little dated. What really sets the Odyssey out is the design of the side profile where the beltline dips behind the rear doors. The downward swooping body line adds to this affect, almost giving the van the appearance as if it’s bent. This design does make for larger rear quarter glass, however, and it allows for better outward visibility for third-row passengers.

left right

The Odyssey is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 just like the Kia Carnival, however, it puts out 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque, which puts it 10 horsepower shy of the Carnival. For those 10 ponies you’re down, however, you get better highway fuel economy. Full EPA ratings are 19 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway, and 22 mpg combined. The Odyssey is priced just as competitively as the Kia Carnival and actually starts $10 cheaper at $32,090 but maxes out a bit higher at $47,820.

Kia Carnival vs Honda Odyssey
Kia Carnival Honda Odyssey
Engine 3.5-liter V-6 3.5-Liter V-6
Horsepower 290 HP 280 HP
Torque 262 LB-FT 262 LB-FT
Transmission 8AT 10AT
Driveline FWD FWD
Fuel Regular Unleaded Regular Unleaded
Steering Electric Electric
Suspension Front Independent Four-Wheel Independent
Tires P235/65R17 P235/55R19
Curb Weight 4,376 LBS 4,603 LBS
Fuel Economy 19/26/22 19/28/22

Read our full review on the Honda Odyssey

Final Thoughts

2022 Kia Carnival - Driven Exterior
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Overall, the Kia Carnival is a great minivan, and it’s really nice that it looks more like an SUV than it does a van. The interior materials, fit and finish, and features are great for the price, and as long as you remember that you’re in a minivan, you won’t really want for more. Acceleration is decent, braking is confident, and fuel economy is good. There’s not a lot more you can ask for from a vehicle that starts out at $32,000.

Philippe Daix
Philippe Daix
Obsessive and Compulsive Automotive Expert - phil@topspeed.com
Always on the lookout for the latest automotive news, Philippe Daix is our most senior editor and founder of TopSpeed.com. He likes to see himself as a consumer advocate with a mission to educate motorheads of all ages.  Read full bio
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