2022 Kia Carnival SX
Miles Driven: 202
Fuel Used: 11.3 gallons
|CG Report Card|
|Room and Comfort||A-|
|Power and Performance||B|
|Fit and Finish||A-|
|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.|
|Engine Specs||290-hp 3.5 liter|
|Drive Wheels||Front-wheel drive|
Real-world fuel economy: 17.8 mpg
Driving mix: 70% city, 30% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 19/26/22 (mpg city/highway/combined)
Fuel type: Regular gas
Base price: $41,100 (not including $1175 destination charge)
Options on test car: Ceramic Silver paint ($495)
Price as tested: $42,770
The great: Excellent passenger room and comfort; satisfying acceleration
The good: Distinctive styling; upscale trim inside and out; broad array of comfort and convenience features
The not so good: Hybrid and/or all-wheel-drive powertrains aren’t available; ride quality is slightly less composed than leading class rivals’; some testers found steering feel uncommunicative
With its new-for-2022 Carnival, Kia is attempting to sidestep some of the negative connotations of the traditional “soccer-mom” minivan. In fact, the company would prefer you not call the Carnival a minivan at all—it uses the term MPV, for “multi-purpose vehicle.” Since the Carnival has traditional minivan sliding side doors and is in fact the replacement for the Sedona minivan in Kia’s model lineup, we’re going to go ahead and call it a minivan… though we give Kia credit for aiming to add a bit more design flair to a segment which is often derided as dowdy (unfairly, in our view).
The Carnival’s SUV-esque nose is boxier and more prominent than the typical minivans, but it somehow manages to look sleek as well. There’s a strong family resemblance to Kia’s excellent Sorento midsize SUV as well, which we’re sure was no accident. Other highlights of the Carnival’s exterior styling are slim-profile LED headlights, a slick-looking full-width taillight, and unique textured satin-finish trim panels aft of the sliding rear doors. SX and SX Prestige models get an attractive concave grille texture with “floating” brightwork.
This gallery serves as a supplement to our previous road test of a top-line SX Prestige model, which you can check out here for more information. This time, we tested the penultimate SX trim level, which starts at $3500 more than the mid-line EX trim but a cool five grand less than the SX Prestige. For that money, you’ll get desirable standard features such as a dual-screen rear-seat entertainment system, 360-degree surround-view monitor, ventilated front seats (in addition to heated), power folding side mirrors, and a parking collision-avoidance-assist system (which can automatically apply the brakes if sensors detect an impending collision with an object behind the vehicle).
Features exclusive to the top-line SX Prestige include a heated steering wheel, 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster with blind-spot camera displays, 12-speaker premium audio system, dual sunroofs, and reclining “VIP Lounge” second-row seats with flip-up footrests. That last item is a dubious upgrade in our book, since the reclining function shouldn’t be used with the vehicle is in motion for safety reasons, and the seats can’t be folded or removed. You’ll have to decide whether these features (and a few other upgrades) are worth the $5K premium over the “regular” SX.
A few notes to add to our original road-test review: We saw a precipitous drop in fuel economy compared our Carnival SX Prestige test vehicle, due to a much higher percentage of city driving and the frigid early-spring weather of our test period this time around. We averaged just 17.8 mpg in this test vehicle in 70 percent city driving. That’s well below the EPA estimates, and also disappointing compared to the laudable 25.1 mpg we averaged in our test of the SX Prestige—which, to be fair, consisted of optimal extended-road-trip driving in balmy weather.
Fuel economy aside, we appreciated the Carnival’s smartly placed USB charging ports, an important consideration for a family hauler such as this. In addition to the expected ports in the dashboard, there is a USB port (as well as dual cupholders) for the outboard third-row seats, and a USB port on the inboard side of both front seatbacks (where they’re accessible by either the front-seat or second-row occupants). The inboard side of the front-passenger seatback also includes handy switches for the power seat/seatback adjustments, making it easy for second-row passengers or the driver to adjust its position.
Dynamically, the Carnival is on par with its class rivals. The steering is buttery smooth, in both a good way and a bad way… it has a refined feel, but some drivers might find it “overboosted” and uncommunicative, with too much power assistance and not enough feedback from the road. Other than the SX Prestige’s VIP Lounge seats, the Carnival’s second-row seats don’t offer any other “parlor tricks,” such as the Chrysler Pacifica’s Stow ‘n Go seats, the Honda Odyssey’s Magic Slide seats, or the Toyota Sienna’s Super Long Slide seats. Also, if you want all-wheel drive and/or a hybrid powertrain, you’ll have to look to the Pacifica or the Sienna… the Carnival doesn’t offer either.
Still, this fresh Kia is a viable rival to the established minivan competition, thanks to its distinctive styling inside and out, available upscale trimmings, and generous list of standard features.
Check out the Consumer Guide Car Stuff Podcast
Test Drive: 2022 Kia Carnival SX Prestige
Forgotten Concept: Dodge Kahuna
Test Drive: 2021 Honda Odyssey Elite
6 Cool Things about the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
Test Drive: 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle
First Spin: 2021 Toyota Sienna
The Minivan as a Limo: What is the Lexus LM?
Check out the Consumer Guide Car Stuff Podcast
2022 Kia Carnival SX Gallery
(Click below for enlarged images)
Forgotten People-Movers: More than 30 Minivans You Don’t Remember