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Kia Carnival: A New Hybrid Ride

by Matt NelsonFebruary 25, 2024
The futuristic Kia Carnival multi-purpose vehicle returns for 2025 with next-gen tech, a refreshed look, and a new efficient hybrid powertrain.
2025 Kia Carnival rear view on dirt road.

Kia’s Carnival minivan, or MPV as it is officially referred to by the Korean automaker, has been part of the Kia lineup here since 2022. Kia’s previous minivan, the Sedona, was replaced by the Carnival after a 20-year run. Now, the 2025 Kia Carnival returns to the fold after receiving a mid-generation refresh and an efficient new hybrid powertrain. 

The 2025 Kia Carnival HEV carries a good amount of optional equipment along with its new refresh. It’s built on a joint Hyundai-Kia N3 platform shared with other models like the Hyundai Santa Cruz and Kia Sorento. Four trim levels are available, ranging from the entry-level LSX trim, mid-range EX and SX trims, and the range-topping SX Prestige trim. All trims carry identical power, space, and fuel economy ratings. 

Kia Carnival minivan shift knob on console.

Kia Carnival Hybrid

Powering the 2025 Carnival HEV is Kia’s 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-four paired with a 54 kW electric motor, which utilizes a 1.49 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Thanks to the aforementioned power sources, the Carnival HEV produces up to 242 horsepower and 271 lb-ft torque. A six-speed automatic transmission handles the Carnival HEV’s power, and front-wheel drive is the sole drivetrain option. For those not interested in a hybrid powertrain, the Carnival also comes with a 3.8-liter V-6 borrowed from the Kia Telluride that manages 290 horsepower and 262 lb-ft torque. Handy hybrid-exclusive driving aids include electrification-vehicle motion control that allows users to adjust the amount of regenerative braking and E-Ride, which helps smooth out bumps with the help of a specially-tuned suspension. 

The new Carnival HEV’s styling takes inspiration from Kia’s ‘Opposites United’ design language that aims to combine the rugged looks of an SUV with the familiarity and comfort of an MPV (aka SUV). The front fascia embodies this motif best, with chiseled lines and a muscular radiator grille. A pair of crystal-like headlights sit above the grille and feature Kia’s Star Map daytime running lights. Down its flanks, the Kia MPV retains much more of a minivan look with typically large windows and doors. At its rear, the Carnival again takes up the SUV look and dons a pair of angular Star Map LED taillights along with a repositioned license plate mounting area, allowing for a cleaner rear hatch look. Those whose tastes run to the dark side will enjoy the optional Carnival Dark Edition appearance package that adds black exterior accents. Buyers have a choice of 17 or 19 inch wheels, the latter offered in two different styles.

2025 Kia Carnival front seats and dashboard.

Futuristic Interior Theme

Inside, the Carnival is just as novel and futuristic. Designers utilized simple shapes and three-dimensional effects through the use of optional ambient lighting. Seating for up to eight passengers is still a hallmark of the Carnival, along with a class-leading maximum cargo space of 145.1 cubic feet. Second-row seats can be removed and third-row seats can fold into the floor for uninterrupted cargo space. 

An available twin-12.3-inch digital display takes center stage and does the job of both the infotainment and digital gauge cluster screens. A 12-inch infotainment screen and a 4.2-inch digital gauge cluster screen are standard. Other optional tech upgrades include a full-color head-up display and a Full Display Mirror, which replaces the standard rearview mirror with a camera and display. Seven USB-C ports are standard within the Carnival along with two handy 115-volt power inverters. Saying the phrase “Hey Kia” will activate the Carnival’s multi-zone voice control, allowing users to control or adjust systems like climate control or open and close windows. Brand-new for the Carnival is an available Connected Car Rear Cockpit system, which uses two 14.6-inch monitors and allows entertainment streaming from select platforms. 

2025 Kia Carnival minivan rear seating.

Tech in the Kia Carnival

Carnival features a litany of standard and available advanced driver assistance features. Among these is standard Forward Collision Avoidance Assist, which detects imminent vehicle or pedestrian collisions and assists with steering and/or braking to avoid them. Other available safety features include Junction Crossing, Evasive Steering Assist, and Lane-Change Oncoming, among others. 

The 2025 Kia Carnival is poised to make waves in today’s family mover field, though some competitors like the Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid and Toyota Sienna hybrid won’t make it easy. Pricing for the 2025 Carnival will be released as the model gets closer to going on sale this summer.