The 2024 Kia Carnival covers all the (crossover) bases

I have the great good fortune of driving most new vehicles on the market – and have for more than four decades.

During that time, there has been a constant shift in consumer desires when it comes to their four-wheel transportation. Small cars, for example have fallen from favour. The minivan, once the epitome of personal transport, has also fallen heavily on the sales charts as an emerging demographic declared them too dull to be seen in.

 

2024 Kia Carnival
Photo: Garry Sowerby

 

In both cases, buyers have shifted to crossovers. I can see the attraction of a crossover over a subcompact or even compact car.

 

But I have yet to see any vehicle that covers all the bases like a minivan.

Sure, there are crossovers that offer a similar package size. But you have to get into the large three-row crossovers to approach the people or packages capacity of a minivan. And even the largest of those make climbing up and into the third row an athletic exercise. And once you get there, the space is cramped and second class.

Minivans offer a low step-in height and they absolutely blow away any crossover when it comes to cargo space and the ease of loading same. But the frosting on this cake are those magic sliding doors.

 

2024 Kia Carnival
Photo: Lisa Calvi

 

Those magic sliding doors make for the perfect family vehicle

They make getting in and out in tight garages or parking spaces a breeze. Ask any mom or dad who has struggled with getting a child seat and its occupant belted safely in with a door that can’t open all the way, and often very little. Ask someone who has done the same thing in a minivan.

Yes, I’m a huge fan of minivans. I have gone through that stage in life when there were little people to consider. I have come around to another generation of the same. Which reminded me of how perfect minivans are for family use.

 

Business Class in the 2024 Kia Carnival
Photo: Kia Canada

 

2024 Kia Carnival – a shining example of how minivans have evolved

This week’s test vehicle – a 2024 Kia Carnival in mid-grade EX+ trim, is a shining example of how minivans have evolved. It is a more stylish box than the minivans of old and crammed with features and technology unknown during the minivan heyday.

The average price of a new car/crossover/minivan in Canada passed $66,000 last year. At $50,000, including delivery, the Caravan EX+ boasts power sliding side doors, power tailgate, wireless cell phone connectivity and a phone charging station.

 

2024 Kia Carnival
Photo: Lisa Calvi

 

With winter-like weather still in the forecast, I appreciated the standard heated power seats, windshield and washer nozzles. As the primary driver, I welcomed the 31-centimetre digital instrument cluster, embedded navigation and magnificent LED headlights that turn night into day.

The high beams are turned on and off automatically as oncoming traffic is sensed, or when you come up behind another vehicle. A Kia feature I’ve come to grow fond of is the video display in the instrument cluster of the blind side view when the turn signals are operated.

 

The 2024 Kia Carnival offers comfort and safety in a family-friendly package

Occupants in all three rows benefit from a tri-zone automatic climate control system. Front seaters benefit from a bright and clear 31-cm infotainment screen. The related system includes HomeLink, so you can open the garage door and turn on the lights in the house as you approach at night. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration is also standard.

 

2024 Kia Carnival
Photo: Kia Canada

 

The little ones are past the car-seat stage but appreciated the multiple USB outlets for their gear and the 110-volt outlet should they need to be charged. The driver is able to keep an eye on the rear two rows via a passenger view camera and display.

 

2024 Kia Carnival
Photo: Lisa Calvi

 

As befits a family-friendly vehicle, safety is a major consideration. The bases are covered: blind spot and rear cross traffic alert, surround view cameras, auto-dimming rear view mirror, safe exit assist system, rear occupant alert, lane follow assist, advanced forward collision avoidance assist with junction turning function, and front and rear park sensors.

 

2024 Kia Carnival
Photo: Lisa Calvi

 

The Carnival’s powerful and silky smooth V6 has plenty of power for merging, passing or climbing long grades with ease. It will also get you further on every litre of fuel than a bigger and heavier crossover.

Which got me to thinking, and going back through my files for vehicles I have driven recently.

 

With the advantages of a minivan over crossovers in mind, here are some stats.

The Carnival is the smallest minivan on the market – barely. It is 58-mm or a little more than two inches less than the Honda Odyssey, yet it has the longest wheelbase, (distance between front and rear wheels, commonly thought of as the people space).

The Carnival is 42 kilos or 92 pounds lighter than the Toyota Sienna.

 

2024 Kia Carnival
Photo: Kia Canada

 

But what about the big shift to crossovers with their smaller third row and more difficult ingress and egress? The Carnival is 122-mm (4.7 in) longer than the Hyundai Palisade and Subaru Ascent, but only 35-mm (1.4 in) more than the new Mazda CX-90.

It is lighter by at least 20 kilos or (44 lbs) than all three.

The only real competitor for a minivan in terms of third row and overall interior space are the big truck-based body-on-frame brutes like the Chevrolet Suburban and Ford Expedition. The. Carnival is 578-mm (22.75 in) shorter than the big Chevy and 690 kilos (1,521 lbs) lighter!

There is no arguing with the fact consumers are turned away from minivans. On purely rational terms, that does not make sense.

 

FACTS & FIGURES – 2024 Kia Carnival EX+

 

PRICE

Base: $47,295

As tested: $49,595 including freight

 

SAFETY

LED headlights with automatic high beams, blind spot and rear cross traffic alert, surround view cameras, auto-dimming rear view mirror, safe exit assist system, rear occupant alert, lane follow assist, advanced forward collision avoidance assist with junction turning function, front and rear park sensors

 

INFOTAINMENT

Wireless phone charging, Power sliding doors, power tailgate, 31-cm infotainment screen with integrated navigation, wireless cell phone connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, 110-volt power outlet, navigation-based smart cruise control, HomeLink system, heated windshield, heated washer nozzles

 

STANDARD EQUIPMENT

19-in machine-finished alloy wheels, radar cruise control, 31-cm digital instrument cluster, automatic power folding mirrors, synthetic leather seats, heated, power front seats; tri-zone automatic climate control, passenger view camera

 

MECHANICAL

3.6-litre V6, 290-horsepower, 262-lb. ft. of torque, regular fuel, eight-speed automatic transmission, NRCan rating (litres/100 km city/highway) 12.1/9.0

 

DIMENSIONS

Length, 5,155 mm; width, 1,995 mm; wheelbase, 3,090 mm; weight, 2,078 kg

 

COMPETITION

Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna

 

2024 Kia Carnival
Photo: Lisa Calvi

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