Kia Carnival crosses minivan with SUV style

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LOS ANGELES — Kia’s replacement for the Sedona minivan has a fun new name — Carnival — and styling that is supposed to make U.S. shoppers think of a boxy SUV.

Kia describes it as a “multipurpose vehicle,” or MPV, which is synonymous with the minivan segment in markets outside the U.S. Carnival is the vehicle’s global name.

On sale in the second quarter of the year as a 2022 model, the Carnival also breaks with the “minivan” moniker in terms of size.

The three-row vehicle can seat up to eight people and has 168 cubic feet of passenger room and 145 cubic feet of cargo room, accessed from sliding doors on each side, the company said during a presentation Tuesday.

“Carnival is here to disrupt a staid segment and proves once again what is possible when conventions are shattered,” said Sean Yoon, CEO of Kia Motors America. “With its SUV-like character, our new multipurpose vehicle delivers a combination of premium design, intelligent packaging and an abundance of innovation in safety and technology.”

Designed at the Korean automaker’s California design studio, the Carnival also is the first vehicle in the U.S. to employ Kia’s new global logo, the company said.

Exterior styling elements include an updated “tiger nose” front grille for a wider face, a more defined hood to enhance the boxy look, “brawny wheel arches” and a rear skid plate garnish, Kia said.

Interior touches include three color options, slim metal air vents, a gloss-black center fascia and a chrome garnish that runs the length of the dash to create a spacious feel in the forward cabin, the company said.

Compared with the outgoing Sedona, the Carnival offers more luxurious trim options, modern tech that includes 12 standard driving safety systems and a small power increase to 290 horsepower from the standard V-6 engine.

The front-wheel-drive minivan can tow up to 3,500 pounds, Kia said.

The Carnival, with a 3.5-liter engine compared to the 3.3-liter for the outgoing Sedona, scores slightly better EPA-estimated fuel economy. The Carnival is rated at 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway/22 mpg combined. The Sedona is rated at 18 mpg city/24 mpg highway/21 mpg combined.

Heated and ventilated second-row seats are available with the VIP lounge package on the seven-passenger configuration, which also feature leg extensions, Kia said. On most trims, the second-row seats can be removed and the third-row seats folded into the floor.

Four trims will be offered: LX, EX, SX and SX-Prestige. Kia did not disclose pricing, which typically comes closer to the on-sale date. The 2021 Sedona starts at $31,575 for the base LX trim including shipping.

Tech features available on the Carnival include a digital instrument cluster, up to nine USB ports and two 110-volt inverters, rear-passenger monitor with zoom and night vision and dual rear screens that can mirror Apple and Android devices.

Kia said the Carnival is built on a new version of the N3 platform that underpins the Sorento crossover and K5 sedan. Improvements over the outgoing platform include a quieter interior, a stiffer structure and improved aerodynamics.

In addition to the standard safety suite, optional upgrades include a blind-spot monitor that projects a live camera view of adjacent lanes in the instrument cluster, Kia said.

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Saurabh Shukla

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