2025 Kia Carnival MPV: Hands on Preview

Lee Bailie
by Lee Bailie

Kia took the wraps off the refreshed 2025 Carnival MPV (multi-purpose vehicle) at the Chicago Auto Show, with a lineup that includes gas and, in a first for the Carnival, gas hybrid models.

There’s a lot to get to, but let’s start with the hybrid which will be referred to as the Carnival HEV from here forward.

Also, HEV means high efficiency vehicle.

Carnival HEV

Available in four grades, LXS, EX, SX, and SX Prestige, the Carnival HEV is powered by a 1.6-liter turbo-hybrid engine that’s paired with a 54-kilowatt electric motor and a six-speed automatic transmission. Total output is rated at 242 horsepower and 271 lb-ft. of torque.

From a performance standpoint, Kia has designed the Carnival HEV to deliver improved fuel efficiency and a comfortable ride. As a result, standard equipment includes 17-inch aerodynamic wheels, and an Eco/Smart mode with Electrification-Vehicle Motion Control (E-VMC). As well, there are steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters that can adjust the amount of regenerative braking, with three levels of deceleration control.

The Carnival HEV also comes with E-Handling, which is designed to improve responsiveness and corner handling, and E-Ride, which uses specially tuned dampers to smooth out rougher roads. Finally, E-Evasive Handling Assist helps the driver retain control during emergency handling and steering maneuvers.

All the above features are exclusive to the Carnival HEV.


The Carnival gas-powered lineup consists of five grades – LX, LXS, EX, SX, and SX Prestige – all of which are powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that’s paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission that drives the front wheels. Power from the V6 is rated at 287 horsepower and 260 lb-ft. of torque.

Freshened SUV-like design

Like other new and updated Kias of late, particularly SUVs, the Carnival carries the company’s “Opposites United” design language, which includes a prominent grille, cube-like LED headlights and amber Star Map daytime running lights. Kia has indicated the latter will be a design signature moving forward. To these eyes, the front of the new Carnival bears a strong resemblance to Kia’s EV9 and Telluride SUVs.

At the rear, the Carnival boasts a repositioned license plate holder near the bottom of the tailgate, along with redesigned Star Map LED taillights. A wide, contoured skid plate that provides a contrast against the black cladding on the lower rear fascia is available as an option. Of note, all exterior lighting on the 2025 Carnival is LED.

Premium interior upgrades

The 2025 Carnival features several upgrades that give it a more premium look and feel. For example, ambient lighting runs the length of the dashboard, climate controls housed in a backlit haptic feedback strip that isn’t visible when the vehicle is turned off, and a large, curved dual-digital display is available.

The latter features a 12.3-inch instrument cluster and 12.3-inch infotainment display that share the same continuous panel. It should be noted, however, that the standard set-up is a 4.2-inch TFT cluster with a 12-inch infotainment touchscreen. The infotainment displays are compatible with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Other available tech-related features include a full-color head-up display, and a digital Full Display Mirror.

As for convenience features, an interesting innovation are seat belt buckles that have built-in lights for ease of night-time use. The Carnival also comes with seven standard USB ports, two power outlets, and two 115-volt inverters.

The Carnival has multi-zone voice recognition (“Hey Kia”) that distinguishes between front and second-row passengers for functions such as opening windows or adjusting climate controls. The optional VIP Lounge Seat package, for second-row passengers, has a relaxation mode which reclines the seatback and deploys the leg extension with voice command.

As was the case with the outgoing model, the Carnival is offered in seven or eight-passenger seating, with a best-in-class cargo volume of 145.1 cubic feet (4,108.7 liters) behind the first row. Eight-passenger versions come with “Slide Flex” seating, which allows the second-row center seat to slide so it can be accessed by the front seat passenger.

Removable second-row seats, and third row seats that fold into the floor, carry forward from the previous model. Of note, the second-row seats cannot be removed in SX-Prestige grades.

More connected car tech

Like other Kia models, including the EV9, the 2025 Carnival comes with the Connected Car Navigation Cockpit (ccNC) operating system which has faster processing, higher resolution, touchscreen Quick Controls, and over-the-air updates.

For rear-seat passengers, the Carnival can be outfitted with the Connected Car Rear Cockpit (ccRC) Rear Entertainment System which comes with dual 14.6-inch HD headrest-mounted HD monitors that Kia says will enable users to add content over-the-air in the future in addition to streaming.

Digital Key 2.0, which allows users to use their enabled smart devices to lock, unlock, and drive their vehicles, is available as an option.

Advanced Safety

There’s a lengthy list of standard and optional safety features that can be had with the 2025 Carnival, including Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (standard), which is a part of the vehicle’s Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). Junction crossing, Lane-change oncoming, Lane-change side, and evasive steering assist are also available, and are a part of the ADAS system. Other optional ADAS features include Navigation-based smart cruise control, and Intelligent speed limit assist.

The 2025 Kia Carnival goes on sale this summer. Pricing will be announced closer to launch.

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Lee Bailie
Lee Bailie

With more than 20 years of industry experience, which includes automotive retail, motorsports PR, and writing and editing for various automotive publications, Lee is an AutoGuide freelancer, and car guy to the core. For nearly a decade and a half, he has married his two consuming passions together – journalism and the automotive industry. Whether it’s providing coverage on debuts from an auto show floor, writing road test reviews, or previewing a new model coming soon, Lee is eager to share his passion for the automotive industry with his readers. He is a long-standing member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) and won a feature writing award in 2018.

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