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2024 Kia Carnival Review: Clever Disguise

2024 Kia Carnival | Photo: D.Boshouwers
  • EPA Category: Midsize SUV
  • Price: 37495 $ - 50995 $
  • Consumption: 11,6 - 11,6 L/100km
  • Warranty: 5 years / 100000 km
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Derek Boshouwers
Kudos to Kia for making the effort to reimagine the minivan, at least on the outside; inside, the Carnival offers the same old advantages of the format.

•    Auto123 reviews the 2024 Kia Carnival.

There are two vehicle categories currently on the North American market that barely exist officially. There are models in them, but for the most part carmakers will skate miles to avoid their products being called what they are. Those would be wagons and minivans.

As SUVs multiply and evolve, we are seeing designs that increasingly approach those of wagons. See the new Toyota Crown Signia. Minivans aren’t that level of marketing poison, in the eyes of automakers – Toyota and Honda proudly market their Sienna and Odyssey, respectively, as minivans, trends be damned. In the case of the Carnival, Kia does label it for what it is, but the design is clearly intended to distance the model from the typical idea of what a minivan is.

2024 Kia Carnival, front
2024 Kia Carnival, front | Photo: D.Boshouwers

2024 Kia Carnival – What’s new?

This is year three for the Carnival on the market, and Kia has yet to make any changes of note to the model. Is that because it’s not a huge seller within the lineup and so not a priority as such, or because Kia feels it got things so right in 2021 that it doesn’t see the need for change? Possibly a bit of both.

Design of the 2024 Kia Carnival – 8.0/10

As mentioned, this Kia minivan is officially a minivan. But as mentioned, the design is atypical for the genre. Kia’s entry in the segment looks more like the Ford Explorer SUV than it does either of its Toyota or Honda rivals. Except it has those sliding doors and easy access and greater practicality. It also sits a little closer to the ground. Let’s call it a modern reimagining of the minivan.

Kia Carnival, interior
Kia Carnival, interior | Photo: D.Boshouwers

The interior – 9.0/10

This is where the Carnival is most likely to win over (or fail to win over) customers that are open to the idea of a minivan. In other words, those who want the size and practicality of the format. And for sure, the Carnival features an easily accessible, roomy, comfortable and practical interior environment.

The seats are comfortable and the driver’s seat is easily adjusted to find the best position. Both are key elements for a vehicle that sees itself as an ideal long road trip companion. The second row of the Carnival gets standard bucket seats, which can be removed for create a truly cavernous cargo area. If you go for the captain’s chairs, know that those can’t be removed.

2024 Kia Carnival, second row of seats
2024 Kia Carnival, second row of seats | Photo: D.Boshouwers

On the other hand, the captain’s chairs are basically VIP lounge seats that can be slide back and reclined almost flat for some truly comfy back-seat vegging on long road trips, or even when stopped overnight. Behind them are those third-row seats in a cramped space, but they’re usable in a pinch, and they can be easily folded back into the floor, preserving the cargo area in back. With those seats down, you have 2,460 litres to play with.

Kia Carnival, screens
Kia Carnival, screens | Photo: D.Boshouwers

The dashboard is home to a wide horizontal screen display comprising two 12.3-inch screens (in the SX), one for the data cluster display and the other for the multimedia system. Rest assured, there are physical buttons for common commands.

The infotainment system includes a camera showing what’s going on in the back row(s), and an intercom to help you put a stop to any shenanigans.

Like with the Telluride, the Carnival should make occupants feel like they’re sitting in a premium SUV – except for this being not an SUV. The materials feel upscale and include attractive woodgrain, painted or chrome elements.

Technology in the 2024 Kia Carnival – 8.5/10

Especially in the higher trims, the Carnival comes with all the safety/drive assist features you could expect, and without the price soaring.

When the model debuted in late 2021, that dual screen display looked mighty fancy; today it’s almost par for the course. But it still impresses and it’s also totally adequate.

2024 Kia Carnival, in profile
2024 Kia Carnival, in profile | Photo: D.Boshouwers
2024 Kia Carnival, front grille
2024 Kia Carnival, front grille | Photo: D.Boshouwers

Powertrain of the 2024 Kia Carnival – 7.5/10

The Carnival is fitted with a 3.5L V6 engine delivering 290 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque, basically on par with the Honda Odyssey. Power is sufficient to make on-ramping and highway passing uneventful. There’s a Sport mode that we found ourselves in by default, the other modes making progress feel sluggish in comparison. You’ll lose a little on the fuel economy front but it’s probably worth it. The standard transmission is a capable 8-speed auto unit.

There’s no possibility of an all-wheel-drive configuration with the Carnival, unfortunately. Nor is there a hybrid powertrain offered with the model.

Pricing of the 2024 Kia Carnival in Canada

  • - 2024 Carnival LX - $37,495
  • - 2024 Carnival LX+ - $40,995
  • - 2024 Carnival EX - $44,995
  • - 2024 Carnival EX+ - $48,295
  • - 2024 Carnival SX - $50,995
2024 Kia Carnival, three-quarters rear
2024 Kia Carnival, three-quarters rear | Photo: D.Boshouwers

Driving the 2024 Kia Carnival – 7.5/10

You will be shocked – shocked! - to hear that you won’t get a sporty drive out of the Carnival minivan. It’s a minivan. On the other hand, the rigid structure and fairly firm suspension (for a family mover and road tripper) helps make the drive a pleasingly solid one.

That firmish suspension does make for a ride that can make you feel the road bumps when they get substantial, so in those contexts a zen attitude behind the wheel is best. On solid roads, though, the ride is smooth and quiet and you can eat up the kilometres in real comfort. We found the braking solid, predictable and responsive, well adapted to help you handle the extra weight of this vehicle. The steering is not sporty by any means but it’s easy to handle in the city when you have to turn this thing here there and everywhere.

Fuel consumption
Officially, the Carnival’s ratings are 12.1L/100km (city), 9.0L/100 km (highway) and 10.7L/100 km (combined). The lack of a hybrid option means that’s what you’ll be consuming, which is only average. We recorded an average of 11.6L/100 km over the course of a week.

2024 Kia Carnival, rear
2024 Kia Carnival, rear | Photo: D.Boshouwers

The final word
Call it a minivan or don’t, it’s all the same. The point is you get a really practical family vehicle in the Carnival, which looks a little sleeker than its rivals and drives relatively pleasantly. The interior is well-equipped when you move up the trim ladder, and the model is not outrageously priced.

Shame about the lack of any hybrid or all-wheel-drive options.

Competitors of the 2024 Kia Carnival

  • - Chrysler Pacifica
  • - Honda Odyssey
  • - Toyota Sienna
2024 Kia Carnival, sliding doors
2024 Kia Carnival, sliding doors | Photo: D.Boshouwers
2024 Kia Carnival, three-quarters front
2024 Kia Carnival, three-quarters front | Photo: D.Boshouwers
Derek Boshouwers
Derek Boshouwers
Automotive expert
  • Over 5 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 50 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 30 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists