Kia Carnival: Best Minivan To Buy 2022

January 3, 2022

After five years there's a new pecking order in the minivan universe. At some point every king must fall, and that time has come for the Chrysler Pacifica.

Formerly known as the Sedona, the Kia Carnival's features, warranty, comfort, and sport-utility style earned it a TCC Rating of 7.5 out of 10. That adds up to make it The Car Connection Best Minivan To Buy 2022, besting the Toyota Sienna as well as our Best Minivan winner for the past half-decade, the Chrysler Pacifica

2022 Kia Carnival

2022 Kia Carnival

2022 Kia Carnival

2022 Kia Carnival

The Carnival's handsome enough to be considered an SUV in drag. The squared-off read end with an integrated roof spoiler, fake rear skid plate, Telluride-like pillars, and buff wheel arches don't speak the minivan design language.

Inside, Kia gave the Carnival a dashboard that looks similar to that of the Telluride, minus the SUV's stand-alone screen and console-mounted grab handles. It's an open cockpit awash in digital displays, but the un-kid-friendly gloss black trim has us wondering what designers were thinking for this family vehicle.

2022 Kia Carnival

2022 Kia Carnival

Carnivals are powered by a 290-hp 3.5-liter V-6 paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. It's the most powerful engine on sale in a minivan today. The entire setup blends into the background while providing reasonable fuel economy ratings of 19 mpg city, 26 highway, and 22 combined. Though, unlike the Sienna and Pacifica, no hybrid powertrain is available. And Carnivals are front-wheel drive only, despite the Carnival sharing its platform with the Sorento crossover SUV and K5 sedan, which can both be had with all-wheel drive.

2022 Kia Carnival

2022 Kia Carnival

With seating for seven or eight people, and enough enclosed space to haul home a small sofa, the Carnival has good accommodations. Top-spec versions have a well-detailed interior that look as if it costs more than it does. While not quite as flexible as the Chrysler Pacifica's collapsible seats that stow into the floor, the Carnival has its own tricks. Top-shelf SX-Prestige models can turn the minivan into a lounge with available reclining captain's chairs with integrated foot rests. These seats can also be heated and cooled, though they can't be removed. They slide fore, aft, and laterally to make getting in and out of the third row easier. Unfortunately there isn't enough space for those older than teenagers to stretch out fully without crimping their feet on the front seatback. The fancy seats also can't fold for third-row access, which means it's climbing through the middle aisle to get to the third row.

The Carnival crashes well. The NHTSA gave it a five-star rating and the IIHS named it a Top Safety Pick. Every Carnival comes standard with low-speed automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, active lane control, a driver-attention warning, and reverse parking sensors

Base Carnivals cost $33,275 and aren't a flyover model. With power sliding doors, an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, it's a great family vehicle. The EX or SX would be our choice for its 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster paired with a 12.3-inch touchscreen, heated leather seats, power tailgate, and the SX's cooled seats and added sound insulation.

It's been a while since minivans have been cool, but the Carnival's design changes that with real swagger and all the utility.

Read all about the winners of The Car Connection's Best Car To Buy 2022 awards—and find out which vehicles took home our annual Driver’s Choice awards as well as top honors from our sister sites, Motor Authority and Green Car Reports.

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