Most people have fond memories of family vacations. But when you look back at those, do you have some nightmares about long road trips, trapped in a stuff vehicle next to your sibling with suitcases pile high? Maybe it’s just me.
Yet I continue to take my family on vacations like this and usually choose to take the long way rather than the quick and easy way. So it’s good that I have the job I have with access to a multitude of vehicles for these family trips.
Lined up for our nearly 2000-mille, 15-hour (one way) trip to Florida was a brand-new vehicle from the 2022 model year. The 2022 Kia Carnival replaces the Korean brand’s previous minivan known as the Sedona. It’s replaced with a more vibrant, exciting name like Carnival. Because road trips should be like a carnival, right?
Kia also attempts to jazz up the minivan by diverting the name of the Carnival as an MPV (multi-purpose vehicle). Mazda used to have a minivan that was called the MPV and believe me, the name isn’t fooling anyone. The Carnival is a minivan.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. I personally love minivans, especially for trips like this. Their interior space and cargo area is ideal for passengers and for transporting lots of stuff for the beach.
The looks of the Carnival are far more interesting and modern than the Sedona. The Carnival’s minivan looks fall in line with the competitors like the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey. It’s long and lanky on profile. A chrome-looking accent near the C-pillar is the only design element that’s appealing on the otherwise boring profile. However, the front and the grille are thoroughly modern and add quite a bit of distinction to this minivan.
The lightning-shaped headlights flank the grille that isn’t just a simple geometrical shape and it’s that kind of nouveau vibe that shakes off the stodgy feel of the Sedona and challenges other minivans in the segment.
Kia even has a brand-new logo for their vehicles this year that sticks to that artsy nouveau feel. It’s weird saying nouveau and minivan in the same sentence.
The Carnival has a punchy V6 engine that produces 290 horsepower. That is enough for this long and heavy van. The eight-speed automatic transmission does a tremendous job.
The Carnival, like all minivans, will never be exciting to drive. But on long road trips, what the Carnival offers makes it quite ideal for such outings. The advanced driver assistance systems on the Carnival really lend a hand to the driver.
As you get blurry eyed at hour 12, when it’s dark and you just want to get to your destination your driving skill tends to diminish. Thankfully the Carnival is armed with some of the best driver assist features that I put to good use. The lane-departure warning and lane keeping assist allows for nearly hands-free driving. Drop on the adaptive cruise control and you are oh-so-close to autonomous driving.
When your foot or arms just need a rest to get some blood circulating, but you don’t want to pull over because everyone is asleep, this feature is a blessing.
Speaking of blessings, the reason minivans are awesome is their internal space. And the Kia Carnival has best-in-class passenger room (168 feet0 and best-in-class cargo room (145.1 cubic feet). This, above all else, makes the Carnival superior to other minivans and better than most third-row SUVs too.
My travelling party consisted of three adults, two adult-aged teenagers and three medium-sized dogs.
We pulled out the middle seat of the three-person second row to open up an aisle for the dogs to lay down and roam around. The teenagers occupied the second row. One of the Carnival’s most attractive features is the second-row lounge seats. My tester didn’t come equipped with that but honestly it was a good thing as those would’ve eaten into the third and also cramped the dog’s style.
The third-row passenger reported that while it was easy to get in and out of the third row, the seats were very firm and sitting over the wheels made for quite a bumpy ride. If you have a passenger who tends to get car sick, don’t let them sit in the third row, even though it has good legroom and even has cup holders and USB ports for charging your phone.
Kia did think of everything in regard to the creature comforts like that. And the infotainment system is simple and easy to use. We hooked up our iPhone for CarPlay and integrated Wave as our go-to navigation.
A wireless charging pad was much appreciated too so all devices could remain charged and all passengers placated.
Base price of the 2022 Carnival EX was $37,600 making it one of the more affordable minivans in the segment.
It has an EPA rating of 19 mpg/city and 26 mpg/highway. With the rising gas prices, we happily averaged nearly 23 mpg in our trek to the Sunshine State and back. Quick road trips from our condo to the zoo and the beach and around town were good too thanks to the Carnival.
All in all, the Carnival is one of the better vehicles I’ve taken on a family road trip. Call it an MPV or call it a minivan, but you can call it ideal for family trips for a certainty.