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Kia Makes the Carnival Minivan Official for North America

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It was a secret in name only: Kia’s Sedona minivan is changing its name to Carnival as the model undergoes a complete redesign this year. The new Carnival, which has already made its debut in South Korea, will make its debut in the second quarter of this year in North America.

Yesterday, Kia Canada introduced us officially to the 2022 Carnival.

A minivan no matter what you call it
The minivan segment has been on a downward trajectory for the past 15 years or so, though it has stabilized in recent years. Still, fact is that in 2021, consumers largely prefer SUVs. What’s more, some motorists probably wouldn’t be caught dead sitting behind the wheel of a minivan, even though they know full well that this type of vehicle is the most practical for families.

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2022 Kia Carnival, profile
Photo: Kia
2022 Kia Carnival, profile

This helps explain why Kia is using an adorable-sounding new name to describe its Carnival: Life Utility Vehicle (LUV).

It may seem insignificant, but it's not. Here we have an automaker offering consumers a minivan, which it doesn’t want perceived as one. The strategy is understandable, but if you don't mind we’ll continue to refer to the Carnival as a… minivan.

2022 Kia Carnival, three-quarters rear
Photo: Kia
2022 Kia Carnival, three-quarters rear

Successful design
Having said that, I have to admit that the designers did a great job with the exterior appearance, which makes the Carnival look quite lot like an SUV, especially in front. Interestingly, the design work was done by Kia’s American design studio. Beauty being in the eye of the beholder and all that, we'll let you judge for yourselves...

Inside, the presentation is sharp and upscale. Of course, there are all the essentials in terms of equipment and connectivity, with features accessible via a 12.3-inch LCD screen on the dashboard. In the second row, with the captain's seat configuration, first-class seating awaits, right down to the headrests and footrests that can be adjusted at the touch of a button.

The Carnival's interior can accommodate seven or eight occupants, depending on your needs. With the latter approach, you'll enjoy a sliding second-row bench seat for easy access to the third row. The seating arrangement also offers many possibilities for families.

2022 Kia Carnival, interior
Photo: Kia
2022 Kia Carnival, interior
2022 Kia Carnival, second row
Photo: Kia
2022 Kia Carnival, second row

Under the hood is a 3.5L V6 engine, paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Power hasn't been announced, but towing capacity will be 3,500 lb.

Five versions will be offered, namely LX, LX+, EX, EX+ and SX, with starting price set at $34,495. Driving aids and safety features are present (standard or available) by the boatload.

As part of its presentation, Kia gave a long accounting of all the equipment that will be offered with this vehicle, but we’ll have the opportunity to go into further detail on that when we test drive the model.

2022 Kia Carnival, front
Photo: Kia
2022 Kia Carnival, front
2022 Kia Carnival, nameplate
Photo: Kia
2022 Kia Carnival, nameplate
Photos:Kia
2022 Kia Carnival pictures