I’m not shy about my love of minivans. And while I have no kids and am still in the middle of a pandemic that makes it dangerous to hang out with other people in small enclosed spaces, I said yes when Kia asked if I could spend some time with their new $ 32,100 Wanted to spend carnival minivan. Because as mentioned before, minivans are wonderful.
They are also beautiful, at least when it comes to the carnival. The designers at Kia opted for a two-box shape and adopted the boxiness. To my eye, the proportions are just right, especially in profile, where its shape is halfway between the hatchback and station wagon, but scaled by 20 percent.
Differentiators include the brand’s large “Tiger Nose” grille up front and, since our test car was the Carnival SX (MSRP: $ 41,100), a textured chrome bezel on the C-pillar that gives you something interesting up close. My photos don’t do the optional ($ 495) ceramic silver paint that gleamed with pink and gold flecks in the sunlight. Together with the black aluminum rims of the SX and the silver accents, it all works quite well.
The interior is as voluminous as you want it to be for a MPV, and it is even available either as a figure-eight layout (as in our test carnival) with a sliding and removable middle row or as a seven-seater with two adjustable, heated and ventilated seats Captain’s chairs for the middle row. In either case, the third row folds flat into the floor to increase the cargo space from 40.2 cubic feet (1,138 liters) to 86.9 cubic feet (2,460 liters). The third row is actually only a row of three for toddlers.
As I wrote earlier, Kia’s UVO infotainment system is actually pretty decent, with a user interface that sometimes reminds me of the old days of pre-OS X Macintosh. Since our Carnival test was an SX panel, screens were also built into the backrests of both front seats. These have a kid mode, and the screens can also mirror a phone via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Each row has its own USB-A ports, but phone calls also work wirelessly, and a wireless charging pad is built into the center console.
In addition, there are a number of advanced driver assistance systems as standard, including automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic warning, lane keeping (adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go is standard on EX and SX equipment), and automatically dimming headlights for oncoming traffic.
It’s a great minivan, but I have a complaint
Behind the tiger nose (or under the hood if you prefer) there’s a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 290 hp (216 kW) and 262 lb-ft (355 Nm) and the power via the in-house eight-cylinder Kia sends speed automatic transmission to the front wheels. It has a combined value of 22 mpg (10.69 L / 100 km), which means it’s time for my one big carnival complaint: why didn’t Kia at least make it a hybrid?
It’s not like Kia (and Hyundai siblings) don’t know how to electrify a vehicle; Its hybrids are among the best in the business and are likely the mainstream OEM closest to Tesla in terms of electric powertrain efficiency. But for some reason, just like the very popular Telluride and Pallisade SUVs, there is no alternative to pure fossil electricity. To make matters worse, the Carnival shares a platform with the Kia Sorento SUV, and that is an efficient hybrid!
The Carnival is comparable to the Honda Odyssey in terms of efficiency, but is driven by the 35 mpg (6.72 L / 100 km) hybrid Toyota Sienna and the plug-in hybrid Chrysler Pacifica (which takes about 28 miles with a full vehicle will travel) battery blown away before you even need to bother the engine and 30 mpg, 7.84 L / 100 km even when the battery is dead).
An electric motor would also improve the driving experience. Not that it’s lacking – the lower center of gravity in a minivan compared to a three-row SUV gives the minivan an inherent advantage in terms of handling, and the ride was smooth, absorbing road imperfections well. Kia says the Carnival is stiffer than the old Sedona it is replacing thanks to more high-strength steel in the chassis. It also has more soundproofing and insulation to keep the interior calm and serene at highway speeds.
But as anyone who has ever stayed in an electrified car knows, instant torque from an electric motor is hard to beat, especially on larger, heavier vehicles. The automotive rumor mill suggests that a hybrid and eventually even a fully battery electric carnival could appear once Kia includes the Stinger production line, but I have to stress that Kia didn’t say anything about it itself.
Offering picture by Jonathan Gitlin
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