The minivan isn't completely dead yet, but the Kia Sedona nameplate is. That's not to say Kia is abandoning the minivan segment, quite the opposite in fact. The new Kia Carnival is a feature-packed people mover with the ability to carry 11 passengers in some configurations. It will officially debut for the US market on February 23, taking over for the long-running Sedona.
Of course, the Carnival and Sedona have always been the same van. It came to the US as a 2002 model, named Sedona after the popular tourist town in Arizona. Outside North America it was called Carnival pretty much everywhere else, save for the odd VQ designation in China and a badge-engineered version for Hyundai called the Entourage. As part of Kia's globalization plan, it's all consolidated under the Carnival moniker.
Gallery: 2021 Kia Sedona / Carnival
The current-generation Carnival actually debuted in June 2020 for the 2021 model year, sporting significant upgrades both inside and out. Among other things, the van's exterior styling is sharper and chunkier, adopting more of an SUV appearance with a taller hood and angular body lines. As such, Kia prefers to call the Carnival a "Grand Utility Vehicle" but the dual sliding rear doors are pure minivan.
Similarly, the three-row seating with legroom to spare is a minivan trait, but the Carnival's party trick is an available fourth row of seats at the very back. The rearmost bench folds flat in the cargo area when not in use, but can be called into action to offer 11-passenger capability. Admittedly, the fourth row is very limited in space, but for families often carrying a small army of kids, this capability in a smaller vehicle could be invaluable.
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The current-generation Carnival is technically revealed, but some small changes will appear on the US-bound model. Among other things, Kia says it will be the first model in the States to wear its newly designed Kia badge. A 290-horsepower (216-kilowatt) V6 will provide power, and it will boast a wide range of driver-assist systems. Curiously, Kia bills its US-spec Carnival as a three-row van with a capacity for seven or eight passengers, so it's possible the fourth-row bench won't be available stateside.
Our questions should be answered on February 23 when the Carnival gets its US debut. You can learn all about it right here at Motor1.com.