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Hagerty Employee

Review: 2022 Kia Carnival SX Prestige

I was given the Kia Carnival to review some eight weeks after the birth of my second child. Who better to evaluate a minivan, my editors thought, than a harried parent? It's a nice theory frustrated by the exhausting reality of life with two kids under the age of three.

The Kia minivans since 2006 are good news and bad news. Good news -they were relatively unknown and consequently cheaper and better buys than Siennas or Odysseys. Bad news - now the word is out that they are good cars and they are now lower in price but not much. They have better safety ratings and equally low maintenance. Almost every one you see has high mileage, especially the repos that get serviced every leap year if they need it or not and still plugging along. But I think the previous generation Sedonas (2006 to 2012, no 2013, and 2014 revivals) are maybe a little less sophisticated but are better than the current models (and better that the contemporary minivans in the past) for driving quality. If you grew up in MGs and TRs and married a widow with 4 kids, you definitely won't look cool but you'll feel OK driving an older Sedona. I am a semi-retired second generation used imported car dealer and I have owned just about everything. Not AN MG or TR- hundreds. Over 200 Miatas. Everyone on the internet is an expert. But I have actually been there in multiples (and had 3 Multiplas for that matter). And now with an an arthritic spine, my 14 Sedona is easy to get in and out of, is more comfortable and drives better than many "sportscars" I have owned. It makes an Odyssey feel like a moving van and a Sienna feel like a blimp. Great road feel and response, I know this is heresy to all the armchair experts but it is real, long term experience. Everything in life is a compromise, but here is an excellent blen of practical for hauling stuff and all the widows of my deceased friends whle I still navigate the Grand Prix du Roadhome.

Our Sienna felt like a blimp (as you describe). One of the factors in us trading it in for a Ford Transit Connect Wagon (a van that is not a blimp).


Good comment. I totally agree that the previous generation Sedona was an excellent vehicle that was overlooked by too many minivan buyers. I also concur on the ease of entry/exit, and the much greater versatility of a minivan over an SUV.
Pit Crew

Thank you! As the former owner of a trusty 2007 Sedona EX, I wholeheartedly agree. It was vastly superior to the '97 Town & Country it replaced in our family garage and it's only true weakness compared with its competitors was fuel economy. We hauled our three boys countless places through their teens, with enormous quantities of whatnot all over the Inland Northwest, and the Sedona never let us down. This new Kia looks like a very worthy successor. For my garage, the need for minivan capacity has passed, so there is now a Mazda CX-5 in its place. (Another enthusiast-friendly, sportier-than-you-think-it-is utility vehicle, and a great complement to my Miata.)

David, I just walked by a kid’s store and they had a T Shirt for a child that said “I’m the reason we can’t have nice things”. I would put that on a kid who couldn’t read.

It looks like a crossover which is probably enough for those who would not be caught dead in a Minivan. Still I teased a friend when he got a Sienna minivan about turning in his "Man Card" but I also said you made the better choice. Sliding doors work better for kids and stuff. Plus minivans seem to haul all that much better than a CUV. I just want to see the 350-450hp sport one come out.

My buddy just bought a new Kia and he is already having issues on the wheels. 


We needed a new van for our dogs, who need low lift-over on the back gate, so SUV's were off the table. Toyota has a new, inane hybrid, underpowered system with the rubber-band transmission, a non-option, this is after 3 consecutive Sienna (Toyota failed dropping the V6). Honda is fine, but seems dated and the seats literally don't go back on their tracks far enough (really, with all of that space, I was jammed up against the dash). Chrysler was the lone choice, it's fine, but I know it will be gone before the warranty is up. Kia was an option, but dealers wanted $10-14K ADP, and I couldn't justify $60K+ for a dog hauler. Yup, these are all frumpy blobs to drive, but functional.

I have owned several minivans through the years, and I have to say that in terms of comfort/features/handling I like the Pacifica and Odyssey the best (stow n'go gives the win to Chrysler IMHO). That said, this Kia is hands down the best looking van the world has seen and will hopefully get copied by the others.

To give an idea of how minivans can change a mindset: I got a 2014 Grand Caravan (the family beater) when we had our second kid in 2018, as I am a fan of vans and my Scion xB didn't cut it with 2 kids. My wife refused to drive it, and hated to ride in it. She drove a crossover. She started complaining how hard it was loading kids into the crossover (she is 5'2"), and wanted to check out other vehicles. She tried out a variety of other CUV's, SUV's, and sedans, and couldn't find something to satisfy her. One day we are at a Honda dealer (she was looking at a Pilot), and I convinced her to drive an Odyssey, and I would stay back at the dealership. A short bit later she gets back, I asked her about her impression and she said, "Damn it, I loved it!" About a month later, after trying all the vans on the market, she got a brand new Pacifica as she felt it was the best of the bunch. Having driven nearly every van from the mid 90s up through the years (started with a Montana), I can say the Pacifica truly is my favorite. Of course, once the kids were old enough to get into a car themselves, my wife traded the Pacifica for a CR-V last summer.
Intermediate Driver

Not alot of difference between a minivan and an SUV, and I don't even know or care what a Crossover is. Minivans seem to be more spacious and versatile than SUVs since most SUVs built today are built for the street, not for the dirt. In fact, why would anyone actually BUY an SUV over a minivan? If SUVs were cooler, I would get it, but they are decidedly not - big, lumbering, hard to park, hard to get in and out of, fuel eating, no handling, and no more real room than a typical passenger car. Notice how no one with an SUV talks about the joy of driving - I am guessing there could not be much! If I have to have a vehicle like that, I will take the minivan - stigmatized or not, I really could care less. But since I enjoy driving (until the government puts a stop to it), I will stick with my sportscar and 6 speed manual....yes, even in traffic.
Pit Crew

I'm a Miata owner who will freely admit that my wife's 2019 CX-5 is a joy to drive. Mazda says there are Miata bits in there somewhere, and I believe it. I know the enthusiast-oriented approach isn't for every SUV owner, bit I still find it perplexing that people choose the CR-V, RAV4, etc. in a world where the CX-5 exists
Pit Crew

I’m on my 2nd Odyssey (2015) and grew up with a Pontiac Trans Sport so I’ve spent a good chunk of my life with a minivan. Nothing beats the versatility or value of one. Hauling the family for vacation and all your gear. Making runs to the dump. Bringing home oversized purchases from Costco or Home Depot. Carrying more than 5 people on those rare occasions or the dog. Plus they get reasonably good mpg. But I get they’re not fun to drive or look cool but while your kids are young and still go everywhere with you, it’s impossible to beat.
New Driver

Bought a Ford Flex Limited in 2010 instead of a minivan. Looks very similar. The flex with the 3.5 ecoboost engine was a blast to drive, and the handling wasn’t bad either. Never understood why the Flex wasn’t more popular. Even had a fridge between the rear seats to keep the drinks cold.

I saw one this morning, didn't like it at all. And the name.... no way.