Kia Carnival is about to get an EV9-inspired makeover


Our latest review of the Kia Carnival MPV calls it “easily the coolest minivan out there,” with nifty styling and great tech. The drawbacks we noted are the lack of a hybrid powertrain and AWD, no all-wheel drive, and the rather cozy third row. One of those cons could be addressed with a facelifted Carnival on the way, and the styling could jump into the future. Korean Car Blog posted shots of a camouflaged Carnival in a parking garage, the minivan wearing a face heavily inspired by the coming Kia EV9 battery-electric SUV. In trying to get away from the dreaded epithet “minivan,” the current Carnival sports a traditional luxury SUV vibe up front with its narrow headlights and stylized mesh grille underlined in chrome. From what we can see of the prototype, there are EV9-style vertical headlights but with different lighting elements, and something brand new going on with a more ornate grille treatment seen in the camouflage’s plastic windows. We think the decorative piece with the diagonal elements in the center is a red herring.

KCB also says there’s a hybrid version on the way. With the Sohari Plant in Korea finally retooling to build electrified vehicles, the Kia Stinger sport sedan is dead and a Carnival Hybrid can be one of the models to take its place. By the end of the year, Sohari will be turning out the EV9 and a Carnival Hybrid that uses the same powertrain put to use in the Sorento Hybrid. That means a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and one electric motor. If output hold steady, buyers will get 227 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. It’s said that eventually there will be a battery-electric version to boot. Right now, the Carnival’s only engine option is a 3.6-liter V6 making 290 hp and 262 lb-ft.

Based on the locations of the camouflage around this prototype, we suspect there will be a lot more tweaks made to separate it from the model on sale now. 

Now if Kia would just do something about the drivetrain. Front-wheel-drive is said to continue as the sole option, a strange choice when one of the first destinations for family decision-makers looking for new ways to haul their kids is the checkmark in the AWD box.