2022 Kia Carnival vs. 2021 Chrysler Pacifica: Compare Minivans

April 7, 2021

New minivans don’t emerge very often—and while the 2022 Kia Carnival is new and replaces the fuddy old Sedona, it’s no groundbreaker. 

It does throw a fastball right at our favorite minivan, the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica. The eight-passenger carry-alls score identically at a TCC Rating of 7.2 each. (Read more about how we rate cars.)That’s before the Carnival gets crash-tested, so it’s possible it will score higher than the Chrysler in due time.

2022 Kia Carnival

2022 Kia Carnival

But ask us which we’d buy, and our money’s still on the Chrysler, our Best Minivan To Buy every year since 2017.

Styling isn’t the deciding factor. Both vans have eye-pleasing bodies; Chrysler’s is more suave, while Kia’s is more SUV-like. The Carnival whittles off square corners to look more like a Telluride with sliding side doors than like any of Kia’s minivans from the past. The Pacifica’s upturned rear pillars and its gently curved roofline have a modish appeal, just like its swoopy interior—best ordered with open-pore wood in top trims, according to us.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica

2021 Chrysler Pacifica

2021 Chrysler Pacifica

2021 Chrysler Pacifica

2021 Chrysler Pacifica

2021 Chrysler Pacifica

2021 Chrysler Pacifica

2021 Chrysler Pacifica

Powertrains separate the two, in favor of the Chrysler. Both vans steer and ride well enough, but Chrysler’s plug-in powertrain garners a point the Carnival leaves on the table. Kia’s strapping 290-hp V-6 and 8-speed automatic peel off admirably quick stoplight runs, and it omits the bobbly minivan moves of its past efforts. But why bother with gas when you can plug in the Pacifica for up to 32 electric driving miles, and more taut handling? Take away the hybrid system and the Pacifica becomes more the Carnival’s equal—but it’s still available with all-wheel drive. The Carnival’s front-drive only.

Flexibility goes Chrysler’s way, too. Both minivans max out interior space, but they work it differently. Kia leans into luxury with available second-row airline-style seats with heating, cooling, and power-up footrests; they’re business-class seats for sure, but who buys their kids those pricey tickets? Chrysler’s fold-away seats offer supreme flat-floor flexibility without flunking the comfort test. We’d rather tuck a seat than crush a spine with Kia’s technically removable but hefty sliding second-row bench seat. Keep in mind the hybrid Pacifica can’t have AWD—and it also can’t have second-row stow-away seats because of the battery system.

2022 Kia Carnival

2022 Kia Carnival

2022 Kia Carnival

2022 Kia Carnival

2022 Kia Carnival

2022 Kia Carnival

2022 Kia Carnival

2022 Kia Carnival

All Pacificas come with automatic emergency braking, but the similar and cheaper Voyager models do not, which costs Chrysler a point in the safety rankings. (Voyagers also lack second-row stow-away seats.) Both upsell adaptive cruise control and a surround-view camera system; Kia also has blind-spot cameras that project info in the instrument cluster, but they’re not as useful in practice as they seem in theory.

Value leans in Kia’s direction, as does standard equipment. The $33,275 Carnival LX has touchscreen infotainment, power sliding side doors, and wireless smartphone charging, but we’d opt in for the mid-range EX for less than $40,000—or the $42,275 Carnival SX and its 12.3-inch touchscreen, cooled power front seats and surround-view camera system. Kia’s 5-year/60,000-year warranty outstrips Chrysler’s average coverage. For about $40,000, the Pacifica Touring L has a 10.1-inch touchscreen, 13-speaker audio, navigation, and superior utility. You can swap some of that usefulness for more efficient electric driving or for all-wheel drive—or you can follow the Carnival out of town.

Summary

7.2
Expert Rating
The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica is ready for anything your family may throw at it, from crumbs and half-eaten gummy bears to winter travel.
7.2
Expert Rating
The 2022 Kia Carnival loads up on luxury, though it cedes Olympic-grade flexibility to other minivans.

Styling

7.0
Expert Rating
A new, larger grille this year is paired with striking LED lighting at the rear to cement the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica’s status as the most stylish minivan on the market.
Read More
7.0
Expert Rating
The handsome Carnival wears some SUV drag.
Read More

Performance

7.0
Expert Rating
A new all-wheel-drive option helps expand the plush Chrysler Pacifica’s appeal against SUVs and crossovers.
Read More
6.0
Expert Rating
The Carnival’s no joy ride, but it’s perfectly suited to the minivan task.
Read More

Comfort & Quality

9.0
Expert Rating
Short of an Airbus A320, there may be no better way to transport passengers than in a 2021 Chrysler Pacifica.
Read More
9.0
Expert Rating
The Carnival’s a universal carry-all.
Read More

Safety

8.0
Expert Rating
Newly standard safety tech this year makes the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica an even better choice for families.
Read More
No crash-test data is available for the Carnival.
Read More

Features

8.0
Expert Rating
The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica is a premium van that can come with a hefty price tag.
Read More
10
Expert Rating
The Carnival has something for everyone, in every seat.
Read More

Fuel Economy

4.0
Expert Rating
The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica is fairly thrifty in standard form and remarkably frugal as a plug-in hybrid.
Read More
4.0
Expert Rating
The Carnival’s tagged with so-so fuel economy.
Read More

MSRP

from $35,820
from $32,100

Invoice

from $27,333
from $30,978

Fuel Economy - Combined City and Highway

22
22

Engine

Regular Unleaded V-6, 3.6 L
Regular Unleaded V-6, 3.5 L

Drivetrain

Front Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
Front Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
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