2023 Kia Carnival Review

2023 Kia Carnival Review
  • Good standard features
  • Flexible seat options
  • Roomy interior
  • Sport-utility style
  • No hybrid version
  • No all-wheel drive
  • No stow-away second-row seats
  • Lounge seats come up short
  • The LX Seat package is the best comfort value, but the EX builds on that with better tech.

The 2023 Kia Carnival makes up for its single powertrain choice with value and style.

What kind of vehicle is the 2023 Kia Carnival? What does it compare to?
The 2023 Kia Carnival minivan seats up to eight passengers in comfort and at a value. It competes with the Toyota Sienna, Chrysler Pacifica, and Honda Odyssey, as well as three-row crossover SUVs such as the Kia Sorento. 

Is the 2023 Kia Carnival a good minivan?
Sharing a platform with the Kia Sorento, the 2023 Kia Carnival does a high-wire act between cars, crossovers, and SUVs. Its middling fuel economy and limited powertrain options limit its TCC Rating, which is still a high 7.0 out of 10.

What's new for the 2023 Kia Carnival?
After last year’s redesign and rechristening from Sedona to Carnival, the minivan mostly carries over unchanged.  
2023 Kia Carnival Review

The Carnival embraces SUV cues with its broad, vertical face and burly rear end. Only the sliding door tracks give away its minivan bones. Inside, Kia dresses it up with premium trim elements such as glossy black plastic that can be mismatched to the minivan’s call of duty because it collects fingerprints. Still, the horizontal spread and lack of clutter lends the dash and cabin a touch of sophistication. 

The Carnival taps a capable 3.5-liter V-6 with 290 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. Teamed with an 8-speed automatic transmission powering only the front wheels, it gets off the line and out of jams quickly enough, or it can tow up to 3,500 pounds. It lacks the hybrid or AWD option of rivals, however, so its EPA rating of 22 mpg combined fails to impress. The quiet cabin and well damped ride, however, keep the Carnival moving along in comfort.

The spacious Carnival offers a mid-row middle seat that can be folded flat and serve as a console table. All the seats in that row can be removed, or upgraded to lounge-like captain’s chairs that reduce seating capacity to seven and come with recliners and foot rests. It sounds better than it is, however, without much foot room or room for anyone behind the seats. The 60/40-split third row folds flat, but only the Pacifica can stow both rows of seats into the floor. 

An IIHS Top Safety Pick winner, the Carnival comes with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, and active lane control, while top trims get adaptive cruise control, a surround-view camera system, and blind-spot cameras. 

How much does the 2023 Kia Carnival cost?
The Carnival undercuts the competition with a $33,935 starting price. It features an 8.0-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and wireless smartphone charging, but for $2,000 more shoppers can add an eighth seat and heated front seats covered in synthetic leather. 

We might step up to the $39,435 EX and its 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 12.3-inch touchscreen. The $47,275 SX Prestige model tops the lineup. All Carnivals have a 5-year/60,000-mile warranty with roadside assistance.

Where is the 2023 Kia Carnival made?
In South Korea.
2023 Kia Carnival Review


SUV up front, minivan out back, the Carnival is its own attraction.

Is the Kia Carnival a good-looking car?
Of the four minivans on sale in the U.S., the Kia Carnival most approximates SUV style despite power-sliding rear doors. From the front doors forward, it looks like a Kia Sorento. On the inside, it reveals DNA shared with the Kia Telluride. Inside and out are worth a point each to a 7. 

The Carnival’s boxy end with an integrated roof spoiler and available roof rails channel SUV burliness, while on the sides fake chrome plates blend a couple of the more questionable flair bits on the Sorento and larger Telluride, as if Kia intended to draw the eye away from the sliding door tracks below them. Pronounced wheel arches house up to 19-inch wheels that, we admit, look best in black. The front end reflects the biggest design departure. Kinked daytime running lights stretch Kia’s hallmark dogbone grille around the edges. The broad, vertical face, accentuated by a lower underbite flanked by fog lights, honors all the SUV design trends. 
2023 Kia Carnival Review

Inside, the broad horizontal dash comes with two large screens under one pane of glass, over a slim horizontal band of vents and a trim plate that on top trims can reflect the sun in distracting ways. An overreliance on gloss black plastic on the bezels, console, climate and menu bars, as well as on door panels might prompt the OCD parents to stash a bottle of Windex or Meguiar’s in the deep console.


This Carnival has no thrill rides.

How fast is the Kia Carnival?
Its 3.5-liter V-6 makes 290 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque, which is fine for getting off the line, and its 8-speed automatic shifts when expected, so highway passing moves aren’t much of an issue either. Nothing about its performance will surprise, but its soft compliant ride earns it a point to a 6 here.

Is the Kia Carnival AWD?
2023 Kia Carnival Review

No, it’s front-wheel drive, and Kia doesn’t offer an AWD option as in the Chrysler Pacific or Toyota Sienna. 

Comfy on the highway, the Carnival is insulated from road and engine noise, though at high speeds its block presence butts heads with headwinds. The front strut and multi-link rear suspension quells road imperfections, but in corners and cloverleaf ramps there’s no delusions as to the minivan’s minivanness. It leans like a sock in the wind.  The steering is numb in keeping with its practical, inoffensive character.

Comfort & Quality

The Carnival carries the circus act known as family life with space and comfort.

With seating for up to eight family members and friends, comfy front seats, spacious rear seats, and tons of cargo room, the Carnival delivers the kind of accommodations expected in the most practical vehicle segment. It’s a 9 here, missing a perfect 10 due to base trims that come up well short for the fit and finish. Remedy the shortcomings of the base LX with a $2,000 seat package that swaps out the manually adjusted cloth front seats for heated power front seats covered in synthetic leather. 

Supportive front seats on any grade are complemented by a spacious cabin that’s free of clutter or an intrusive center console, and has deep storage pockets and lots of cupholders. 

The seat package or anything but the base trim add a middle seat in the middle row to seat eight people total. That seat can slide forward to enable front passengers to replace a fallen binky, or it can be folded flat to reveal cupholders on the backside, giving outboard passengers a kind of console. Any mid-row seat can be removed, unlike the Toyota Sienna. But the seats can’t fold flat into the floor as in the Chrysler Pacifica.
2023 Kia Carnival Review

The top SX-Prestige swaps out that middle row for two reclining captain’s chairs with integrated foot rests. The idea is better than the execution. Even tweens about 5-foot tall will have their feet run up against the front seats, and the reclined position means no one can fit in the third row. Head room comes up a bit short with the reclining seats due to the twin-pane sunroof. They also don’t tumble forward, so accessing the third row means crouching down the aisle. 

The three seats in the way back offer plenty of space, especially for two, and the 35.6 inches of leg room means adults can fit back there if need be, though the Honda Odyssey is roomier. The 60/40-split rear seats collapse into the floor, but you have to manually put down the headrests first. Some vans automatically fold down the headrests. 

With the third row down, cargo room expands from a voluminous 40.2 cubic feet to 89.6 cubes, about the same as the Telluride. But with 145.1 cubic feet behind the first row, the minivan doubles as a weekend work van capable of all the runs to the home stores.


An IIHS Top Safety Pick winner, the Carnival comes loaded with crash-avoidance tech.

How safe is the Kia Carnival?
The NHTSA still hasn’t gotten around to crash testing it, but the Carnival aced all six crash tests conducted by the IIHS, who awarded it a Top Safety Pick when equipped with LED projector lights on the top SX Prestige trim. The headlights on other models were rated at “Poor.” 

Still, the standard features, abundant options, and TSP earn it a point each to an 8. Good outward vision out front is enabled by a low beltline and low cowl, but it worsens at the rear with chunky sides and rear headrests chunking up the view. 
2023 Kia Carnival Review

Standard driver-assist features include low-speed automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, active lane control, a driver-attention warning, and reverse parking sensors.

Upper trims fill out what’s missing with front parking sensors, high-speed automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, a surround-view camera system, and blind-spot cameras.


A good value and a better warranty give the Carnival a minivan edge.

The Carnival’s standard features, luxury-level options, large touchscreen with a good infotainment system earn it a point each, as does its overall value. The topping on the Carnival cake is a 5-year/60,000-mile warranty with roadside assistance and 10-year/100,000-mile coverage for the powertrain. That makes it a perfect 10. 

Pricing starts at $33,935 for the base Carnival LX, but don’t dismiss it as a barebones fleet vehicle. With seven-passenger seating and power-sliding side doors, as well as an 8.0-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, it’s the best value of the bunch. A middle seat in the second row can be added for $2,000, and Kia throws in heated front seats and synthetic leather. 

Which Kia Carnival should I buy?
2023 Kia Carnival Review

Despite the LX value, the EX upgrades provide the most bang for the buck. Or bucks, $39,435 of them. The 12.3-inch touchscreen still needs a cord for smartphone connectivity (even though wireless smartphone charging comes standard on this trim), but the EX also gets the LX seat package mentioned above as well as a power tailgate, a power driver seat, and 19-inch wheels. An available intercom/inter-car camera allows the driver to have eyes and ears in every row. 

How much is a fully loaded Kia Carnival?
The $47,035 Carnival SX Prestige carries the rear seat entertainment system and surround-view camera system of the SX, but adds leather upholstery, heated and cooled second-row lounge seats, 12-speaker Bose audio, and a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster with blind-spot camera views.

Fuel Economy

The Carnival’s good time stops at the pump.

Is the Kia Carnival good on gas?
The Carnival’s 19 mpg city, 26 highway, 22 combined EPA fuel rating trails other minivans and even the brand’s own three-row SUV. The Telluride checks in at 20/26/23 mpg. With no hybrid powertrain in sight, the Carnival can’t come close to the Toyota Sienna’s 36 mpg combined. It’s a 2 on our updated scale.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
2023 Kia Carnival Review 2023 Kia Carnival Review Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on July 25, 2022 Rating: 5


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