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First Drive Review: 2022 Kia Carnival is the best minivan/MPV on the market

The Carnival is three-row vehicle excellence you didn't see coming.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Wait, wait, wait. If you were under the impression that the Kia Carnival isn't a minivan, well that's just means that the automaker's marketing department has done their job well. Look, it doesn't matter if you think it's a minivan (it is) or if you're buying the whole multi-purpose vehicle speak. The point is, the 2022 Kia Carnival is very, very good.

The exterior Carnival was crafted at Kia's design studio in California by artists that clearly understood what Americans want out of their minivan - they want the outside to not look like one. For the cabin design, the design team in South Korea took over and managed to tall all the things the general buying public loves about the functionality of a three-row minivan and pack it into the package created in SoCal.

2022 Kia Carnival From the side, it's hard to tell if the Carnival is a three-row SUV or a minivan.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

With its large but lowered SUV looks, the Carnival looks more like a Chevy Traverse than the Kia Sedona it replaces. When parked, it caught more than a few eyes, which honestly isn't surprising. It doesn't quite look like what people have see before (similar to how the Kia Telluride appeared when new) but it also isn't easy to figure out whether it's a van or a SUV.

Kia sells the Carnival in four trim levels: LX, EX, SX, and SX-Prestige. They provided an SX and SX-Prestige for simultaneous review. Those two models have a starting price of $41,100 and $46,100, respectively. The base model Carnival LX starts just over $32,000.

Every grade comes standard with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that delivers 290 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. That's plenty of power though in the heavier SX-Prestige grade the Carnival feels heavier to drive and seems slower off the line. It is heavier than the LX base model by around 400 pounds and 126 pounds heavier than the Carnival SX.

Like a good-driving SUV, the Carnival delivers a proper amount of steering feedback and turning is precise. It's just as easy to cruise at high speed in the Carnival as it is to maneuver around a parking lot. You can't say that about any full-size SUV on the market today. The Kia has good outward visibility and is easy to get into and out of a parking space.

2022 Kia Carnival The Carnival's setup is more like an SUV than the typical minivan.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Like other minivans, the center console of the Carnival divides front row occupant seating, but this is more in the style of an SUV than, say the Toyota Sienna, where you feel like you're sequestered to your own cabin. There's plenty of small item storage but there isn't the nifty under-stack place for handbags or shopping bags like what can be found in the Chrysler Pacifica.

Having the car's instrument cluster and infotainment screen under one housing is just as attractive in the Carnival as it is in Mercedes-Benz models. The base model gets an 8.0-inch infotainment touch screen and a mostly analog cluster with a driver information display. Any grade above the SX gets a 12-inch infotainment touch screen but you have to opt for the fully loaded SX-Prestige to get a matching 12-inch fully-digital instrument cluster. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and multiple USB ports are standard.

As in other Kia products, the infotainment system is easy to operate and clear to read. The all-digital instrument cluster isn't anything worth upgrading to on its own. Sure, it's a high-tech addition that works as advertised, but you're not really missing anything by not getting it.

2022 Kia Carnival The all-digital instrument cluster is only available on Carnival SX-Prestige models.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

There are other reasons to get the SX-Prestige though. It comes standard with a 12-speaker Bose sound system (other models have six or eight speakers), a rear seat entertainment system and rear seat voice recognition (both also on SX), a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated second- and third-row seats, second-row VIP lounge seats, and pure leather seat trim.

The Carnival seats seven or eight, depending on trim level. When opting for the VIP lounge seats, owners lose the ability to have removable seats, which are standard on every other trim level.

If your kids are in car seats, the second-row amenities (aside from the entertainment system) probably aren't a deal breaker. For you, a Carnival SX is likely loaded with more than enough comfort and convenience features to please. Parents with teens who are prone to complain on road trips will want the SX-Prestige version.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The Kia Carnival and the Kia K5 are the best Kias out there right now. The Carnival is the brand's best full vehicle effort in years. It ticks nearly every box, including the "don't make it look like I'm driving a minivan" one. If you're in the market for a people mover, like the looks of an SUV, don't like climbing in and out of an SUV, and don't require off-roading capability, you could do much, much worse than the Carnival, for much, much more money.

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Updated compact car

Kia announces updates for 2022 Forte

Kia revised the Forte's styling for 2022.

Kia

While many automakers cut cars to focus on highly profitable trucks and SUVs, Kia has remained dedicated to cars and continues improving them year after year. The Forte was updated for 2022 with new tech, massaged styling, and revised advanced safety features.

The new Forte offers a revised front-end design, new bumpers, updated wheels, and updated headlights. Though the car's overall shape and style are familiar, the detail work around the grille, lower front fascia, and headlights adds a sharp, modern look to the car. The same is true for the car's rear end, as the new bumper, taillights, and trunk lid spoiler all add to the car's appeal but don't drastically differentiate it from its predecessor.

2022 Kia Forte The Forte can be had with a powerful turbocharged engine.Kia

Inside, the new Forte features a standard 4.2-inch color driver information display and an eight-inch touchscreen that runs wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A massive 25-inch wide touchscreen system is standard for the GT and GT-Line trims that includes navigation and over-the-air map updates. The car can be optioned with SynTex synthetic leather upholstery and the available smart key system now includes remote start.

The Forte is still offered with two engine choices for 2022. They include a 2.0-liter inline-four that produces 147 horsepower and returns 41 mpg on the highway. A continuously variable transmission is paired with the 2.0-liter engine. The upgraded engine is a turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-four that produces 201 horsepower through either a seven-speed dual clutch automatic or a six-speed manual transmission.

2022 Kia Forte The Forte comes packed with standard tech and safety features.Kia

A host of advanced driver aids are standard: Forward collision-avoidance assist, forward collision warnings, lane departure warnings, lane keeping assist, and a driver attention warning system. The Forte is available with highway driving assist, navigation-based adaptive cruise control, safe exit warnings, blind spot collision avoidance assistance, forward collision alerts, pedestrian and cyclist detection, and rear cross-traffic alerts.

2022 Kia Forte Synthetic leather is available in the Forte.Kia

The Monterrey, Mexico-built Forte should begin arriving on dealers' lots soon. Kia offers the car in four trims: FE, LXS, GT-Line, and GT. The mid-level EX trim was dropped for 2022.

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Safety and technology awards

Four Hyundai cars earn top marks for teen drivers

Best SUV for Teens $35 to $40k: 2021 Santa Fe Hybrid

Hyundai
Each year, U.S. News & World Report ranks vehicles in several categories. One relates to teen drivers and how well a vehicle performs in areas such as safety and available technology features. The 2021 rankings for Best New Cars for Teens were just released and one automaker hit it big. Four vehicles from Hyundai's 2021 lineup took top spots in various categories. They include:
  • Best Car for Teens $20k to $25k: 2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid
  • Best SUV for Teens $20k to $25k: 2021 Hyundai Kona
  • Best Car for Teens $25k to $30k: 2021 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid
  • Best SUV for Teens $35k to $40k: 2021 Santa Fe Hybrid


2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid Best Car for Teens $20k to $25k: 2021 Hyundai Elantra HybridHyundai


All vehicles that earned awards in the 2021 survey are available with safety features that include forward collision warnings, forward automatic emergency braking, lane departure warnings, and lane keep assist. The vehicles also carry safety features and controls that allow parents to monitor their teen's behavior. Through the available smartphone app, parents can receive alerts when the vehicle goes over a set speed or if the teen leaves a set geographic area. The idea is that the functionality allows parents to coach their young drivers on their driving habits.


2021 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Best Car for Teens $25k to $30k 2021 Hyundai Ioniq HybridHyundai


To earn a spot on the U.S. News Best Cars for Teens rankings, a vehicle has to score well in several categories that include crash test scores and available advanced driver assistance features. The vehicle must also have scored well in the publication's rankings for its segment and price level.


2021 Hyundai Kona Best SUV for Teens $20k to $25k: 2021 Hyundai KonaHyundai

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