We ought to start out by declaring what the new Kia Carnival isn’t before we disclose what it actually is. Initial reaction aside, this is not a rebadged or repurposed Telluride SUV. Instead, the Carnival is a completely new vehicle, probing a segment of the market that’s still early in its evolution. The Carnival is Kia’s entry that replaces the longstanding Sedona minivan, About the only thing the Carnival shares with its predecessor is three rows of seats. The Carnival is described by Kia as a “multi-purpose vehicle,” and despite its decided SUV-ish two-box profile, we need to make clear that by the conventionally accepted defnitions, this is not an SUV.
First, the seven- or eight-passenger Carnival is front-drive only; the standard engine is a best-in-class 3.5-liter V-6 producing 290 horsepower, linked to an eight-speed automatic transmission, and with a standard towing capacity of 3,500 pounds. Styled at Kia’s design complex in California and sharing its new N3 platform with the Sorrento SUV and the K5 sedan, the Carnival boasts a lower-than-normal step-in height, removable bucket seats, and available reclining VIP seats throughout the interior. The center seat can be folded down to create a table inside the cabin. The dashboard incorporates a matched pair of 12.3-inch LCD screens; one for vehicle information, one for infotainment purposes, with the most comprehensive ADAS suite in its segment. Due in the second quarter, the Carnival will be offered in four trim levels.