By Peter Perrotta
I pulled into my local Wawa convenience store recently driving this week’s review vehicle. I parked in one of those spots that’s supposedly reserved for curbside pickup customers only.
While I wasn’t there for curbside pickup, I see the manager of the store staring at me through the window. I’m thinking this guy is glaring at me for parking in the wrong spot and when I go inside he’s going to give it to me.
Quite the opposite, it turns out.
Instead, when I get up to the check out counter he’s excited to know what I think of the all new 2022 Kia Carnival SX Prestige I was driving – it’s a new model that looks like a cross between a mini-van and an SUV. Kia calls it an MPV: multi-purpose vehicle.
“It looks really cool,” he says. “That’s the first one I’ve seen.”
Turns out he was staring to get a better look at the Carnival because his wife is expecting a second child and this Kia was one of the minivan/SUVs they were considering replacing their Chevy Traverse with.
I have two sons – the youngest is 22 and the oldest 35 – and I don’t have any dogs. So, I’ve been way past the minivan stage in my life for quite some time.
But, I do remember when my wife was pregnant with my youngest son and she pleaded with me to get rid of my Chevy pickup. It was with much regret that I traded my S-10 for a Dodge Caravan minivan.
But, looking back now, that was a no brainer. That Dodge Caravan was a workhorse. We used to fill it with a playpen, high chair, stroller, car seat and enough luggage and diapers for a week’s stay in Florida. It was almost a must-have.
The point is, I can’t review an MPV – the modern day minivan – solely on how it looks or its driving performance. It’s really all about the utilitarian capacity of the vehicle.
With that in mind, the new Carnival not only looks great but it offers tons of room and versatility to make it through many a family vacation.
Moreover, the South Korean automaker has been on a roll recently, introducing some hot new models like the Telluride SUV and remaking the popular Sedona and Optima – now called the K5.
“The Kia Carnival is here to disrupt a staid segment and proves once and again what is possible when conventions are shattered,” says Sean Yoon, president and CEO, Kia Motors North America.
The Carnival actually replaces the more traditional looking Sedona minivan that Kia once offered. Like the ever popular Telluride, the exterior of the Carnival was designed with a more aggressive, bolder boxy looking style.
It has large blacked-out wheels, crossover-like proportions and signature daytime running lights that flow into the grille. All that gives the Carnival a much more updated and cutting edge feel to it than had been offered in the Sedona.
Inside, the new Carnival offers some cutting edge styling as well. The dashboard and front seat area are both upscale looking and a large center console and ultra-modern dual screen infotainment screen lend nice touches.
The SX Prestige model, which I tested, comes with leather seats and reclining second row seats with pop-up foot rests. The second row captain chair-like reclining seats not only can be adjusted up and back but sideways as well.
Under the hood, the all new Carnival is powered by a 3.5 liter V-6 that produces an impressive 290 horsepower and is paired with a very smooth shifting eight speed electronic automatic transmission. However, for this year, at least, you can only get the Carnival in front wheel drive, as an all wheel drive version isn’t available yet.
So how does this new modern technological wonder drive?
It has a very, very smooth driving feel to it. It is more than roomy and comfortable to sit in. The sight lines are generally good and it sort of glides around town, taking away any of the usual aches a pains a young mom or dad might be experiencing after a day filled with chasing after a couple of toddlers.
For me, if I was in the market for a minivan styled vehicle, I would certainly put the Carnival on a top consideration list.
Kia offers the new Carnival in four trim levels, starting with the value oriented LX to the top-of-the-line SX Prestige.
The SX Prestige I drove for one week carries a bottom line sticker price of $47,770. It has a base price of $46,100.
The SX Prestige comes loaded with standard features like a panoramic roof, upgraded Bose sound system, navigation and more.
The only added charged to my tester was $495 for the Astral Blue Paint and $1,175 for destination and delivery.
The EPA fuel consumption ratings for the new Carnival come in at 22 miles per gallon overall – 26 mpg in highway driving and 19 mpg in city driving.
The EPA estimates that the average annual fuel cost for running the Carnival will be about $1,600 as it uses about 4.5 gallons of gas per every 100 miles you drive it.
This vehicle has not been crash tested by the government yet.
Car and Driver gives the Carnival high marks for its refined powertrain, well balanced chassis and handsome styling.
It gave it low marks for not having a four wheel drive option and not having as much cargo space as other vehicles in its segment.
Peter Perrotta’s On The Road column appears weekly. He can be contacted at email@example.com