Mountain Wheels: Kia’s Carnival mixes the world of the SUV and the futuristic minivan


Designed as a bulky multi-passenger vehicle that still looks pretty cool, the new Kia Carnival mixes minivan utility with more minivan utility.
Andy Stonehouse / Courtesy photo

There are still many driving families for whom a massive SUV isn’t quite the right answer to their multi-person trips – or a child-related cargo load.

To provide what is perhaps the most futuristic answer to this need, and to far transcend the ignominy faced by those who spent their childhood in previous generation minivans, Kia has a new answer. Especially since domestic automakers, in addition to Chrysler’s Pacifica and its Voyager-only fleet, have largely abandoned this space.

Say hello to the signature Kia Carnival. No exotic “e” in his name, as I initially thought; just a healthy, California-designed, US-focused people-moving power for seven or eight people, wrapped in flashy features and high capacity.

Kia itself doesn’t hold back any punches, here emphasizing ‘bold and boxy’ as a positive attribute and positioning Carnival as some sort of minivan / SUV mix – just as Pacifica, Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna have also tried to get rid of. minivan label. You probably know which of them chose to add all-wheel drive or hybrid versions to their lineup; for now, Carnival is simply front-wheel drive and powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine.

Either way, it’s a big step up from the outgoing Sedona, looking very much in line with the unseen full-size Telluride and somewhat smaller Sorento SUVs. It also looks as big as a Chevy Tahoe, although the center of gravity and the various passenger access points are much lower to the ground.

That means 168 cubic feet of passenger space and 145.1 cubic feet of cargo space, the latter even outclassing the new, bigger and more spacious Chevy Suburban. It rides on a 121.7-inch wheelbase and is 203 inches long; Tahoe is only 8 inches taller. That size means a lot of territory in parking spaces, so the outside rearview mirror, 360-degree camera, and reverse collision avoidance sensors certainly help.

There are four trim levels, and mine was the near-premium SX attractively priced at $ 42,770 with a list of options that could cost that much on their own on a German import, if they made minivans. not quite. That means dual rear video screens (and just slightly out of the way), sci-fi-style raised roof rails, 19-inch wheels, and ventilated seats, while a sleek silver ceramic paint job was costly. $ 495 more.

This V6 also gives it 290 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, which is a lot of horsepower for what, frankly, often looks like a very large empty box. It takes a bit of coaxing on the way up sometimes, as it weighs a little over 4,600 pounds, but on Front Range roads it will fly. Horsepower also means 3,500 pounds of towing capacity.

My biggest problem was how completely the Carnival got sucked into the 18-wheel ruts on the highway; its overall handling was more than adequate for its size, and the ride is okay if you have all the seats down to, perhaps literally, park a Kia Soul in the back. May be.

The seating and passenger setup is of course inventive here, with moderately harsh third-row seats that either disappear into the floor or leave a gigantic stroller, luggage, or barrel-sized cargo space if the seats are. readings.

The second row is sort of a space shuttle setup, with 40/20/40 seats mounted on rails that appear to slide about 6 feet with the third row row. You can, I guess, socially isolate one (or two) of your rear passengers, which can be useful in large families. Double power sliding doors, two rows of sun shades and an interesting two-layer cargo shelf system on the rear wall testify to the versatility and ease of access to children and child seats.

The looks are a continuation of the very avant-garde design aesthetic of Kia’s large SUVs, which includes quirks such as fish-scale metal panels on the Carnival’s C-pillars and dramatic, enveloping LED lights.

Inside, it’s more of the Telluride / Sedona look, including piano black haptic controls, almost real wood highlights, and a wide unified console with Mercedes-style metal rockers for seat warmth and comfort. camera. Everything is super stylish, with a checkerboard / matrix design, from the front grille to the speaker vents.

Andy Stonehouse


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