Although Kia is pitching the new 2022 Carnival as an “MPV” (multipurpose vehicle), we see it for what it really is: a minivan. And that’s no bad thing in our eyes. Quite the opposite, as we unabashedly love vans, with their emphasis on practicality above all and the impressive engineering typical to this segment. A 2022 Kia Carnival SX Prestige joined our cadre of 40,000-mile test vehicles alongside a 2021 Toyota Sienna Limited, since one people hauler is never enough.
The Kia follows a more traditional van path than the Toyota, which is now available only as a hybrid and offers an all-wheel-drive option. While styling cues such as a longer hood and snazzy C-pillar trim are meant to make the Carnival look more like an SUV than the previous Sedona, it remains a large box with sliding doors, seven seats (eight are available in lower specs), and a comparatively old-school powertrain consisting of a naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V-6 driving the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.
We opted for the Carnival’s top SX Prestige trim because it has all the extras that make its interior more pleasant. For a starting price of $47,275, it comes with an upgraded audio system, a rear entertainment system with two screens, and second-row “VIP” seats, each of which features heating, cooling, and a foldout footrest. We didn’t love the clunky adjustments for these nonremovable lounge-style seats in our first experience with the Carnival. We’ll monitor how they hold up and see whether we acclimate to the controls over time.
The total as-tested price for our van rings in at an even $49,000. Aside from the $495 upcharge for Astra Blue paint, our Carnival’s optional extras mostly enhance usefulness. The $360 crossbars for the roof rack will help us tether things to the top more easily, the $575 tow hitch will allow us to make use of the 3500-pound towing capacity, and the $95 cargo mat and $200 floor mats will help keep the cabin relatively clean. And our black leather seats should show less dirt and grime than the optional brown leather—or the light-beige leather in our Sienna, which is looking worse for the wear.
At the test track, our long-term Carnival was slightly slower and less agile than a 206-pound-lighter non–Prestige SX model we tested earlier this year. This minivan turned in a 60-mph run of 7.3 seconds, stopped from 70 mph in 186 feet, and recorded 0.79 g around the skidpad; those numbers are 0.3 second, 13 feet, and 0.03 g in the rears of the lower-spec van. So far, we’re averaging 21 mpg, which predictably pales in comparison to the Sienna hybrid’s 32-mpg average in our hands.
We’ll keep this story updated with all the Carnival’s adventures over the next 36,000 miles or so, which are sure to include lots of road tripping, kid hauling, and cargo schlepping. After all, the only thing we like more than minivans is putting them to good use.
Months in Fleet: 1 month Current Mileage: 3904 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 21 mpg
Fuel Tank Size: 19.0 gallons Observed Fuel Range: 470 mi
Service: $0 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0
Damage and Destruction: $0
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