The "minivan" is dead, long live "Grand Utility Vehicle."

The rise of crossovers and SUVs has severely impacted sales of minivans, but the family-friendly body style is still relevant enough for Kia to warrant a new generation of its large MPV. It has some big shoes to fill considering all three generations of the Carnival / Sedona have accumulated sales exceeding two million units since the vehicle was launched back in 1998.

Referred to as a “Grand Utility Vehicle,” the new range-topping Kia minivan shows its boxy shape and modern styling in a teaser image. It has slimmer LED headlights and a revised “tiger nose” corporate grille with vertical slats. The front bumper has an all-new look and doesn’t appear to contain the “ice cube” four-point LED fog lights anymore.

The side profile reveals a giant greenhouse and the mirrors now sitting lower on the doors. A prominent upper character line bridges a visual connection between the headlights and taillights, much like the outgoing model does. Although not noticeable, it is believed the overhauled minivan will grow in size by adopting a stretched wheelbase to enable an even roomier interior cabin. For the same purpose, rumor has it Kia plans on making it a tad wider as well.

Don’t hold your breath to see those large wheels on the production car as automakers are known to exaggerate details when they release design sketches. As a matter of fact, you can actually check out the very same wheels on the prototype our spies just spotted, and they’re much smaller in real life. While Kia’s teaser doesn’t allow us to see the Sedona’s rear end, the spy shots show a flatter configuration of the taillights and the license plate mounted quite high on the tailgate.

Gallery: 2021 Kia Sedona / Carnival spy photos

Kia promises to unveil the fourth-generation Carnival “soon,” ahead of a sales start in South Korea plant for the third quarter of the year. There’s no word from the automaker’s US division yet about whether the revamped Sedona will go on sale for the 2021 model year. It might just happen seeing as how a rumor earlier this year alleged an April reveal at the New York Auto Show, but with the event pushed back to August and then ultimately cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, it never happened.

This could mean the US-spec minivan will premiere in the months to come and might make an appearance at the Los Angeles Auto Show in the second half of November.

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Next-generation Kia Carnival to debut this summer

  • Character evolution and modern new look for Kia’s flagship minivan
  • Two million Carnival models sold worldwide since 1998
  • ‘Grand Utility Vehicle’ displays confident design presence and SUV style

Kia Motors Corporation has hinted at the design of the brand’s fourth-generation Carnival flagship minivan today. Released in Korean specification, the all-new Carnival – sold in many markets worldwide as the Kia Sedona – will appeal to progressive young families with its combination of innovation, flexibility, and style.

The new model builds on its predecessors’ heritage in the mid-sized MPV segment, following more than two million Carnival sales worldwide since the first generation launched in 1998. With a stronger, more stylish presence, futuristic new details and an SUV-inspired design, Kia designers have even dubbed the new model a ‘Grand Utility Vehicle’.

At the front, the Carnival’s confident new face seamlessly integrates high-tech headlamps with Kia’s iconic ‘tiger-nose’ grille. Kia’s designers call this ‘symphonic architecture’, with the design of the front bringing together a range of detailed, technical features which create a sense of harmony and structural energy.

From the side, a bold character line runs the length of the car, linking the front and rear lamps, with its glasshouse characterized by a new chrome fin which extends to surround the rear.

The new Kia Carnival is due on-sale in Korea in the third quarter of 2020, with global sales in many of Kia’s markets to follow thereafter. Kia will release new images and more details about the fourth-generation Carnival soon.