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  • Drew Dowdell
    Drew Dowdell

    The New 2025 Kia Carnival Is More SUV than Before

      Is an MPV a Mini-Van by Another Name?

    We get it. The last time the minivan was popular was in the mid-90s, after they had successfully shoved the faithful family station wagon off the market.  But even then, the sands of time weren't staying still. Larger crossovers were starting to come out and eat into the minivan market.  By the early 2000s, manufacturers were looking for ways to revitalize the market, and in 2004, General Motors debuted their new U-Body vans as "Crossover Vans" to widespread ridicule.

    2025 Kia Carnival MPVTwenty years later, Kia is giving it another go with the Kia Carnival MPV. Last year's Carnival MPV still retained some of its minivan looks. For 2025, the Carnival is built with a distinctly SUV shape; you'd be hard-pressed to tell it was a minivan until you see the location of the rear door handles, and Kia gave the Carnival a bold, upright grille and near-flat roofing, mimicking that of an SUV.  This might be enough to convince shoppers that doesn't look like a minivan.

    2025 Kia Carnival VIP SeatingThe Kia Carnival has been one of the most luxurious minivans on the market since the nameplate's North American release in 2021. For 2025, the Carnival's cabin has been reconfigured with a new operating system that can respond to voice commands. Most commonly used controls are accessible via a swipe of the screen, but physical controls for HVAC are still there.  Voice commands can open windows, change the cabin temperature, and even recognize if the voice is coming from the front or second row. The VIP Lounge Seat package can even recline into "relaxation mode" via voice command. An optional rear entertainment system has two 14.6-inch screens that can stream video or mirror from devices via HDMI and connect to Bluetooth headphones. There are seven USB-C ports scattered throughout the cabin, two standard power ports and two more 115V inverters guarentee every device stays powered up. The seat belt buckles light up to make them easier to find in the dark, and an available rear-view camera mirror allows for unobstructed rear vision.

    2025 Kia Carnival dashboardCarnival gains a digital key that allows drivers to use their smartphone as their key, leaving their device in their pocket.  Drivers can share the key to others over text messaging. Keeping the family safe is a new feature called Highway Driving Assist 2, which first debuted on the Kia EV6, and keeps the vehicle a set distance from the vehicle in front on certain select highways.

    Under the hood, the Carnival retains its 3.5 liter V6, though very slightly down in power from last year, at 287 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque paired with an 8-speed automatic.  New for 2025 is a hybrid powertrain available on all but the base trim. With a combined output of 242 horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque, the system blends a 1.6-liter turbo 4-cylinder with a 54 kW electric motor through a 6-speed automatic transmission. Both powertrains drive solely the front wheels.

    Hybrid models get additional upgrades to improve performance and fuel economy. In Eco/Smart mode, the hybrid system can be set to three different levels of deceleration control, with higher levels allowing greater battery regeneration. E-Handling and E-Ride improve handling, cornering, and smooth out the ride. E-Evasive Handling Assist helps to control the vehicle's movement during emergency steering.

    The 2025 Kia Carnival will be available in five trims, LX, LXS, EX, SX, and SX Prestige, while Carnival HEV will be limited to LXS, EX, SX, and SX Prestige when it hits dealer showrooms this summer.

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    Have to say for a Minivan, it is very nice looking. Much better than what Toyota or Honda have offered. I like it as it does have that SUV vibe.

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    The lack of AWD (which is criminal IMO) is what's keeping the Carnival from being the perfect van. Even lacking that, I would take one over any other minivan and about every CUV/SUV. Don't know if I care for the revised from end very much but will hold judgement until I see one in person. I like the clean look of the current model.

    Edited by surreal1272
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    39 minutes ago, surreal1272 said:

    The lack of AWD (which is criminal IMO) is what's keeping the Carnival from being the perfect van. Even lacking that, I would take one over any other minivan and about every CUV/SUV. Don't know if I care for the revised from end very much but will hold judgement until I see one in person. I like the clean look of the current model.

    AWD is the one thing missing from this as it would be a perfect family hauler in all types of weather if AWD was available.

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    Minivan AWD seems to have a lower take rate than with crossovers.  That could be some selection bias with customers seeking AWD heading straight for crossovers in the first place, but the lack of AWD hasn't hurt the Honda Odyssey any, and Sienna sales aren't up drastically with the recent addition of it.

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