As the refreshed version of the Kia Carnival minivan has been unveiled for 2025 we’ve been fortunate enough to spend some time this week with the 2024 model in a top SX Prestige trim that showcases all of the qualities that make it a popular choice in the marketplace.

Minivans represent a section of the market which is a bit of an outlier as SUVs command most of the oxygen for families looking for vehicle that offer three-rows and north of 6-7 passengers. Still though many see the value in the breadbox, given most ride on the same chassis as their brand family SUV counterparts but offer more usable space inside and better handling dynamics overall.

The Kia Carnival has been with us in North America since 2022 but is actually in its fourth generation, having been sold around the world in various evolutions since 1999. The Kia Sedona we used to have in the US was actually marketed as the Carnival elsewhere.

The Carnival is comparably sized with counterparts from Chrysler, Honda and Toyota and pricing is in the same ballpark but Kia tends to offer more for the money in its packaging which gets us to the as tested price of $49,840 for our fully loaded SX Prestige tester.

While $50k for a minivan seems like a lot, consider how it compares to similarly outfitted crossover SUVs. Our Carnival came with an interior for instance packed with everything known to man and a few unexpected features.

Leather chairs in both the front and second row featured both heating and ventilating. The second-row captains chairs also have a lounger function that allows them to become dentist chairs at the push of a button. Add the optional dual-screen rear entertainment system and you have a place to put the kids into a silent trance on long drives – or perhaps your mother in-law.

The Carnival also featured dual power opening sunroofs which is a nice break from the full glass panoramics that have permeated the market. It’s nice to open up front and back independently. The third row here offers three-across seating with generous space for a total of seven passengers even with the lounger captains chairs. Note that you can configure lower trim grades for up to 8-passenger seating.

For the driver is a dual 12.3-inch screen cockpit layout with fully featured customization, infotainment goodness and an excellent outward view. The center console is high up and with it’s traditional gear lever offers a more sporting SUV-like feel which is one of the contributing factors to the fact that the Carnival has the youngest buyer demographic in the minivan market.

On the road the Kia Carnival offers up generous power with its long proven 3.5-liter DOHC V6 and 8-speed automatic transmission. With 290 horsepower 262 pound-feet of torque and the smoothness of six-cylinders it stands out in the market.

It’s EPA rated at 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined. We saw about 20 mpg in our week with it with mostly city driving. At current the Carnival only offers FWD but it’s towing capability is 3,500 pounds.

Chassis dynamics are as car-like as they get without the top-heaviness you get from many SUVs even though it’s just as tall. I found that it was comfortable and quiet on freeway drives with a magic carpet stability.

Around town it exhibits a level of refinement that’s in keeping with its price point, though its 19-inch wheels and low-profile tires do offer a bit more harshness over some bumps and road irregularities than base models with the smaller wheels and taller sidewalls might.

Having driven all of the comparables including the all-hybrid Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey, and the Chrysler Pacifica I feel the Kia Carnival is the most contemporary fashion forward option in the market when it comes to style and personality.

The interior is full of features and pizzazz, performance is middle of the pack. While the Honda Odyssey is likely a more premium choice in terms of quality and its higher pricing, the Kia offers up value for the money and the longest warranty with 10 years/100,000 miles for powertrain and 5 years/60,000 miles bumper to bumper.

Key Specifications:

As Tested Price: $49,840

Engine: 3.5-liter DOHC V6
Horsepower: 290
Torque: 262
Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic
Drive Type: FWD
EPA Fuel Economy: 19/26 22
Observed Fuel Economy: 20

Length: 203”
Width: 78.5”
Height: 68.5”
Wheelbase: 121.7”
Ground Clearance: 6.8”
Curb Weight: 4,581 lbs
Towing Capacity: 3500 lbs


Ceramic Silver $495
Rear Seat Entertainment $1,000
Carpet Cargo Mat $95
Carpeted Floor Mats $225