Tested: 2022 Kia Carnival 2.2 CRDi

The older I get, the more obsessed I become with purpose. It drives or defines everything and – this is just my humble opinion – its lack or absence can be absolutely devastating. That obviously applies to cars, or vehicle genres, and they don’t come more purposeful than the humble MPV…

I’ll try to reign in my usual sarcasm because it would be very easy to hurl abuse at 4×4’s on the school run, rental cars in the dunes or an erstwhile luxury sedan that’s been demoted to “the dog car”. The possibilities of abusing or neglecting a vehicle’s real purpose seem endless, but somehow that doesn’t ring true for MPV’s, does it?

Yeah, sure, you can trundle around traffic by your lonesome but the very acronym Multi-Purpose-Vehicle means that you’re free to do just about anything with the van-like people mover. Of all the genres, niches and sub-niches proliferating like alley cats, an MPV is probably best suited to moving a growing family around.

In other words: being a car.

What also helped this festively-named van creep into my good books is that its predecessor, the Kia Grand Sedona, left our household with abundant approval. Despite still being childless at the time, my wife and I unanimously agreed that it was an excellent vehicle at the right price when we tested it a few years ago.

I will admit that its two-tone leather interior and trick middle doors with drop-down windows heavily influenced my opinion but there was no denying that it was comfy, roomy, clever, frugal and fairly easy to drive… if you kept its large size in mind. And all of that for around 600k – at the time – was a lot of metal for your money.

Of course, inflation has caught up with everything so the silver MPV you’re now looking at costs a cool 900,000 bucks. There are leaner or fancier models about 100k either side of that price but crucially, I recall the preceding Grand Sedona being roughly the same price as a nice 4WD, so guess what? Yup.

Typing of which, if you think that only two driven wheels (the front ones, in this case) will be a problem, it appears that Kia is a step ahead of you. They sell something called a Sorento which has pretty much the same specifications as this Carnival but offers you more ground clearance and the option of all-wheel drive.

Power in this Carnival comes from the trusty 2.2L in-line four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine which powers everything I just mentioned; plus the upper echelons of the Hyundai SUV line-up. Irrespective of which vehicle you find it in, this motor currently delivers up to 148kW and 440Nm through a smooth and fairly agile 8-speed automatic gearbox.

Kia South Africa indicates that any new Carnival should hit 100km/h in 10.7 seconds and reach a terminal velocity of 190km/h. We strapped our Racelogic PerformanceBox to this silver station wagon and it was so eager to please that it laid down plenty of rubber and jack-hammered its way to a best 0-100 time of just 9.36 seconds.


400m came up in roughly 16.8 seconds while our single emergency brake test from 100km/h was over in 2.92 seconds and 40.51 meters. Needless to say, the car stayed very controllable during these tests and also exhibited fairly docile handling limits: a gradual over-steer tendency was softly caught be a lenient stability control. Again, top marks.

We won’t touch on all the tech inside this van, firstly because there are various models which your dealer can run you through but secondly, because it’s most of what you’d expect at this price point and market segment. Touchy media screen, quirky dash panels, smartphone connectivity, multiple cup holders, etc. etc.

Some personal highlights include the powered side doors (with drop-down windows), captain’s chairs in the middle row, twin sunroofs, side window blinds at the back, cleverly collapsible third row seats, intricate radiator grill design, half-digital gauge cluster, obligatory rear light bar and some borderline bizarre C-pillar textures.

The carbon-look pattern is mirrored on the front interior door cards which – gulp – are back-lit with blue and purple hues. Ehh, I’m not entirely convinced of these items but will happily accept them as a part of Kia’s successful attempts to give the world’s most boring car segment a non-boring member.

In closing, my utmost respect and highest admiration for the Kia Grand Sedona / Carnival range of cars remains intact. It’s an MPV that looks more like an edgy estate car. A van with the innards of a modern SUV. And best of all, Kia sends it into the world with a staggering 5-year unlimited-mileage warranty and 6-year 90,000km maintenance plan.

3 thoughts on “Tested: 2022 Kia Carnival 2.2 CRDi”

  1. Hey Kia, how about an alternate, higher HP engine/trans combo for those of us who love this new van, but need more HP to tow small (toy hauling) trailers.
    Awaiting your reply,
    Ron (“in Utah”)

  2. I love my Kia Sadona. I’ve bought 4 Kia cars since 2013. Thinking about buying my 5th.Rides and drives better than my friends SUV Mercedes and BMW. Features are excellent!


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