The rise of crossovers and SUVs has greatly impacted demand for minivans, but Kia is confident the family hauler still deserves a spot in the company’s ever-growing lineup. Following a couple of previews, the fourth-generation minivan has been revealed in full as the Carnival for domestic market South Korea, but the US-spec Sedona should look virtually the same inside and out.
Speaking of SUVs, the new model is being described by Kia as a “Grand Utility Vehicle” courtesy of an exterior design that takes after sport utility vehicles to bank on the huge demand the segment is enjoying. It’s larger than before, with overall length increasing by 40 mm (1.57 inches) to 5155 mm (203 inches) while the wheelbase has been stretched by 30 mm (1.18 inches) to 3090 mm (121.6 inches).
Gallery: 2021 Kia Sedona / Carnival
To make the cabin even roomier than before, the body’s width has been extended by 10 mm (0.4 inches) to 1995 mm (78.5 inches) while the rear overhang is 30 mm (1.18 inches) longer, at 1130 mm (44.4 inches), for more third-row space and greater cargo volume. The increased footprint comes along with a newly developed platform and a choice between three and four rows of seats. Depending on the market, the Carnival will be available with seven, eight, or 11 seats.
The interior has practically nothing in common with the previous generation as Kia has gone to great lengths to develop a far more sophisticated cabin. Obvious changes include the adoption of a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a touchscreen of the same size, along with reworked climate controls and the adoption of upscale materials throughout the interior.
Then there are the changes underneath the skin, with Kia saying the fully independent suspension has lowered the noise, vibration, and harshness while increasing comfort. Further lowering NVH levels of the minivan is the greater adoption of sound-deadening material, a full underbody cover, and additional insulation between the engine bay and cabin.
Since we mentioned engines, underneath the hood you’ll find a direct-injection 3.5-liter V6 GDI serving as the range-topping powertrain with 290 hp and 355 Nm (262 lb-ft). A multiport-injection engine (MPI) with the same displacement packs 268 hp and 332 Nm (245 lb-ft). There’s also a newly developed 2.2-liter four-cylinder diesel producing a healthy 200 hp and 440 Nm (325 lb-ft). All three are hooked up as standard to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
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Another significant change over the previous-gen Carnival / Sedona is the new column-mounted motor-driven power steering serving as a replacement of the old hydraulic power steering system. Not only is the steering response more direct now, but the steering ratio is 5.6 percent quicker than before and allows Kia to integrate new driver assistance systems. It has everything from lane-keeping assist and blind-spot to forward collision-avoidance assist with car, cyclist, and pedestrian detection.
A semi-autonomous Level 2 driving system is also on board, along with Safe Exit Assist that prevents the power-sliding rear doors from opening if it detects a car is approaching from behind. In a worst-case scenario, following a crash, automatic braking is activated to diminish the severity of a possible second impact.
Kia will have the Carnival on sale in South Korea starting with the third quarter of the year, with additional markets to follow.
Kia introduces all-new Carnival, offering unrivalled style, space and comfort
Fourth-generation minivan features strong, stylish, SUV-inspired design
Spacious, comfortable and futuristic interior, with panoramic screen layout
Intelligent packaging over three or four rows and best-in-class cargo space
New technologies assist drivers, and protect and entertain passengers
Easy-going, assured ride thanks to new platform, steering and suspension
Powerful and efficiency Smartstream engines with eight-speed automatic transmission
On-sale in Korea in Q3 2020; sales in other global markets to follow
The all-new Kia Carnival is fully revealed for the first time today, heralding the arrival of the brand’s fourth-generation flagship minivan. Sold in many markets worldwide as the Kia Sedona, the new Carnival has been designed to appeal to progressive young families through its leading combination of innovation, space, flexibility and style.
Based on Kia’s new mid-size platform, the Carnival has been dubbed a ‘Grand Utility Vehicle’; more refined, roomy and capable than ever, and offering greater space and efficiency than its predecessors – as well as all current rivals in the minivan segment. Its new SUV-inspired design is matched with a modern new interior with a range of technologies designed to assist drivers, while protecting and entertaining occupants. Intelligent packaging over three or even four rows, class-leading cargo capacity, and a range of storage areas throughout the cabin also make it an immensely practical option for families.
“The Carnival has been well-regarded by buyers for a long time and has become Kia’s flagship family-friendly vehicle. The fourth-generation Carnival is a significant new vehicle for us, as it demonstrates every strength that makes Kia so popular around the world,” said Thomas Schemera, Head of Product Division at Hyundai Motor Group. “It improves the quality, versatility and usability of its predecessors, while making travel far more relaxing and more enjoyable for families. With a sophisticated design and cutting-edge technologies to provide owners greater value in their daily lives, the new model solidifies Kia’s role in the minivan segment. It is a ‘Grand Utility Vehicle’ that sets a new standard for MPVs.”
The new Kia Carnival will go on-sale in Korea starting today with sales due to commence in many of Kia’s global markets from later in the year.
A character evolution for Kia’s flagship minivan
The new Carnival represents a design evolution for Kia’s flagship minivan, with a sense of solidity, futuristic details, and SUV-inspired forms and surfaces. It brings a stronger, more stylish presence to the MPV segment as a result.
Compared to the outgoing car, it features a shorter front overhang, with the base of the A-pillar moved backwards to create a longer hood. Its increased wheelbase contributes to greater space throughout the cabin, and the extended side profile hints at the new Carnival’s more refined dynamics. A single character line runs the length of the car, with bold wheel arches and sharp lines giving a more modern, sculpted appearance. A key design highlight its new ‘island roof’ design, with blacked-out A- and B-pillars beneath a body-colored roof. An eye-catching new C-pillar signature design also stands out, with a chrome fin bearing a subtle diamond pattern.
Its new ‘tiger-nose’ design spans the width of the vehicle, integrating LED daytime running lights (DRLs), headlamps and grille to give the new Carnival a confident, futuristic new look and a unique light signature. The sculpted bumpers and lower air intake at the front are matched with metallic trim and a black lower bumper – a treatment evident on the brand’s SUVs.
At the rear, the Carnival is robust in stature, and boasts a wide, distinctive new look accentuated by a full-width light bar. Another element of its SUV-inspired design is the metallic lower skid plate, further affording a more robust appearance.
“The design of the new Carnival presents a concept focusing on two essential points. First, as a minivan with a great exterior design that feels like a premium SUV; second, maximized interior space satisfying our customers' needs, and maybe even surprising them with more intuitive and positive experiences,” said Karim Habib, Senior Vice President and Head of Kia Global Design. “The new Carnival’s design has a great sense of solidity with a stable stance and powerful proportions. Detailed and futuristic elements further amplify its confident presence. We believe the all-new Carnival will be a fantastic looking vehicle and a great partner to our customers’ lives.”
The new Carnival offers customers a choice of up to eight exterior paint colors, as well as a range of aluminum alloy wheel designs, 17, 18 or 19 inches in diameter, depending on specification.
Inside, the cabin of the new Kia Carnival is based on the concept of ‘Spatial Talents’, providing a relaxing, high-tech and stylish environment ideal for family travel.
This manifests in the Carnival’s roominess, combined with a sense of modernity and style. The interior represents an increase in quality and design over its predecessor, with a futuristic new cabin. The high-tech ambiance is most obvious in its wide, panoramic-screen dashboard design, which integrates dual-screen infotainment technologies and haptic touch controls.
A compact shift-by-wire dial for the transmission is located at the base of the center console, freeing up space and falling easily to hand.
Platform and packaging
Utility in abundance, with more space and smart interior packaging
Thanks to its new platform and larger body, the fourth-generation Carnival boasts unrivalled space for passengers. Depending on market, the Carnival offers owners three- or four-row seating configurations, with space for seven, eight or 11 occupants in total. The car is also more versatile and spacious than ever before, offering intelligent and flexible interior packaging and an abundance of cabin storage areas.
The Carnival benefits from a 30 mm longer wheelbase (up to 3,090 mm) and 10 mm wider body (up to 1,995 mm), enhancing utility for families. The overall length of the new Carnival grows by 40 mm to 5,155 mm, with a 30 mm longer rear overhang (up to 1,130 mm), creating more space for third-row passengers and best-in-class luggage space with it.
In its popular seven-seat configuration, the Carnival boasts Kia’s reclining ‘Premium Relaxation Seat’ for second-row occupants, with adjustable back-, arm- and leg-rests providing ‘business class’ seating. This also offers a one-touch ‘Relaxation’ mode, automatically reclining and adjusting the seats for maximum comfort on a longer drive. Combined with the Carnival’s flexible seating arrangements, this ensures the new model is easy to set-up as the ideal car for any situation.
With only the first row of seats in use, the Carnival offers best-in-class trunk space of up to 2,905 liters (VDA, three-row configuration), with 627 liters available to use behind the third-row seats (to the upper edge of the seat backs). Furthermore, the lift-over height for the trunk is 26 mm lower than its predecessor, at 640 mm, making it even easier to load. The power tailgate and smart power-sliding rear passenger doors also facilitate access to the trunk and cabin (see ‘Connectivity and technology’ below for more information).
Connectivity and technology
New technology features connect, protect and entertain occupants
The user experience of the Carnival is defined by the role of technology and connectivity, with a range of high-tech features designed to make life with the minivan as easy and convenient as possible. These new technologies assist drivers, while connecting, protecting and entertaining occupants.
The hub of the car’s connectivity features is the high-tech twin digital display. This links Kia’s latest 12.3-inch digital driver instrument cluster and 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment and navigation system under a single seamless piece of glass. This dual-screen display creates a panoramic, widescreen user experience, with many infotainment functions controlled via touch-sensitive buttons around the screen. There is a similar haptic control panel further down the center console for climate control.
Depending on market, the system offers a crystal-clear display, as well as seamlessly integrated wireless Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay™ with voice recognition. The Carnival also offers live telematics information via the in-car touchscreen and on their smartphone.
Depending on local market conditions, Kia Live services provides live traffic information, weather forecasts, points of interest, and details of potential on- and off-street parking (including price, location and parking availability). It also enables drivers to send route directions to their car before a journey, and check the location of their vehicle at any time.
The infotainment system also enables users to connect two smartphones via Bluetooth at the same time, enabling separate phones to be used for phone calls or media.
Technology is also used to create a more sociable environment within the cabin itself, with the fourth-generation Carnival boasting a new ‘Rear Passenger View & Talk’ feature. Front passengers can use this to check on rear-seat occupants with a small camera linked to the infotainment system – instead of turning around in their seat. It also lets front occupants communicate more easily with other passengers, as the system amplifies their voice through the rear-seat speakers. Should front occupants allow, a new ‘Rear Passenger Voice Recognition’ technology also lets occupants in the second row issue voice commands to control the infotainment system.
Other technologies are designed to make the Carnival even more practical – an essential element of any good minivan. These include one-button smart open-and-close for the rear power-sliding doors and tailgate. The smart power-sliding rear doors and tailgate can also be opened and closed automatically when the key fob is held nearby for three seconds – the perfect measure for parents loading younger passengers into the car.
The Carnival provides passengers with puddle lighting to make it safer and easier to get in and out. This is combined with Safe Exit Assist technology, as well as a comprehensive range of advanced driver assistance systems to protect occupants and other road users (see ‘Safety’).
New ‘Smartstream’ powertrain technologies enhance efficiency and performance
The new Carnival adopts Kia’s latest ‘Smartstream’ powertrain technologies to enhance efficiency and performance. Depending on market and specification, the new Carnival is available with a choice of up to three new engines, all offering swift, easily-accessible performance.
The most powerful engine in the line-up is a 3.5-liter GDi (gasoline direct injection) V6, producing up to 294 ps and 355 Nm torque. This engine features an advanced GDi and multi-point injection (MPI) system, which optimizes the combustion cycle depending on conditions to maximize power and efficiency. A new cooled exhaust gas recirculation system delivers efficiency benefits, helping lower the engine’s combustion temperature for greater fuel economy. A new integrated thermal management and cross-flow system further helps manage the engine’s operating temperature to maximize efficiency at all times.
A 3.5-liter MPi gasoline V6 is also available, producing up to 272 ps and 332 Nm torque. This features the same new integrated thermal management system as its GDi counterpart.
A new 2.2-liter ‘Smartstream’ diesel engine is offered to customers in many markets, and is one of the cleanest diesel units that Kia has ever made. Producing up to 202 ps, and offering 440 Nm torque over a broad range of engine speeds, the new engine replaces its predecessor’s cast iron block for a 20 kg lighter aluminum block. Furthermore, it features a range of measures that reduce friction, aid cooling, enhance efficiency, and reduce emissions. These include new high-pressure injectors, new balancer shafts, a thermal management system, and selective catalytic reduction to regulate emissions.
All engines are paired as standard with eight-speed automatic transmissions, offering smooth and swift progress to match the car’s unruffled dynamic character.
Ride and handling
An easy-going, comfortable and assured ride
The new Carnival maintains the same driving character as its predecessors, prioritizing comfort and surefootedness above all. The development of the new model has focused on delivering an easy-going, comfortable and assured ride, with stable handling in all conditions.
The new fully independent suspension system and a range of noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) measures are engineered to deliver reassuring and relaxing on-road behavior, maximizing stability and occupant comfort.
The suspension system has been dramatically altered compared to the outgoing third-generation Carnival. At the front, Kia’s engineers have applied a new multi-skeletal cross-member and new geometry, better distributing lateral loads on the front suspension from cornering to stabilize handling. The body is also mounted to the rear section of the cross member with new hydro bushes, with liquid inside the rubber bushes reducing the level of suspension and engine vibrations transmitted to the body. This also mitigates the effect of sharp impacts on the front suspension, subtly enhancing ride comfort even over broken surfaces.
The rear suspension has also been revised, with longer lower suspension arms and revised spring layout working to better manage changes in the road surface. Meanwhile the angle of the rear shock absorbers has been adjusted to better absorb shocks from the road.
A new column-mounted motor-driven power steering set-up replaces the outgoing model’s hydraulic power steering system, resulting in a slightly more direct response to steering inputs, with a 5.6% quicker steering ratio. The new system also enables many of the Carnival’s new driver-assist technologies, which rely on an electric power steering motor (see ‘Safety’ below).
Rolling refinement is something that no MPV driver wants to sacrifice, and the Carnival excels in this area too thanks to a range of new NVH features that go beyond what many of its key rivals offer. A comprehensive array of sound-deadening and insulating measures ensure the new model is one of the quietest and most refined on the road. These include new insulation materials around all four wheel-arches, a full underbody cover to reduce wind and road noise, and dense insulation between the engine bay and passenger compartment. The air intake has also been reshaped to reduce engine noise at high speeds, while new crossmembers in the floor of the cabin reduce vibration noise through the body.
Safety and Convenience
Active safety and ADAS technologies to protect families on every journey
The new Carnival boasts a range of passive and active safety and driver assistance systems, protecting the driver and their passengers on every journey. Kia’s advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) help to reduce many of the inherent hazards and stresses of driving, making the Carnival relaxing, safe and confidence-inspiring to drive.
Depending on market and vehicle specifications, the ADAS range in the new Carnival is one of the most comprehensive found on any new car today. Available technologies include Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) with car, pedestrian and cyclist detection; Lane Keeping Assist (LKA); Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist (BCA); Intelligent Speed Limit Assist (ISLA); Driver Attention Warning (DAW); Blind-Spot View Monitor (BVM), High Beam Assist (HBA); Smart Cruise Control (SCC) or Navigation-based SCC (NSCC); Lane Following Assist (LFA); Highway Driving Assist (HDA); and Surround View Monitor (SVM).
Safe Exit Assist (SEA) is an important new addition to the suite of safety technologies for the fourth-generation Carnival. SEA prevents the power-sliding rear doors from opening – and young passengers exiting the vehicle – if the system detects a car approaching from behind on either side.
Kia’s 'Level 2' autonomous driving technology, Highway Driving Assist (HDA), controls acceleration, braking and steering depending on the vehicles in front. Using front view camera and front radar, it helps maintain a set distance and speed from the vehicle ahead when driving on a highway, and helps center the vehicle in its lane while driving. In addition, it features a Rear View Monitor (RVM), Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA) and forward and reverse Parking Distance Warning (PDW).
The RCCA system helps to avoid collisions with vehicles crossing behind from the left and right sides of the Carnival while reversing. This assists the driver by braking the car automatically if it detects an obstacle crossing behind it.
The new Carnival is offered with Kia’s innovative Multi-Collision Brake system, which enables the car to mitigate the severity of secondary collisions. It automatically applies the vehicle’s brakes when the airbags have been deployed after an initial collision, further protecting occupants from secondary frontal or side impacts.
The Carnival is fitted with up to seven airbags, as well as a suite of electronic vehicle safety systems. All models are equipped as standard with Kia’s Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) and Electronic Stability Control, helping drivers maintain control under braking and cornering.
The bodyshell is comprised of different grades of high-strength steel, maximizing torsional rigidity while keeping body weight low. The shell of the new model features newly reinforced pillars, and features a higher proportion of Advanced High-Strength Steel and hot-stamped steel than its predecessor, increasing torsional rigidity and adding strength. The more rigid bodyshell reduces road vibrations and enhances occupant safety in the event of a collision.