Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A grey 2021 Kia Sedona is shown driving down an empty road.

Should You Choose the Kia Sedona or Wait for the Carnival?

Ever since Kia first announced that its Sedona minivan was coming to the end of its lifespan, people have wondered what would follow it in Kia’s lineup. Well, now we know, as Kia recently revealed its all-new Kia Carnival for the model year 2022. Although it’s being referred to as a Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV) rather than as a minivan, it’s pretty clear that this is Kia’s successor to the Sedona and that it will take its place. But is it worth the wait, or should you act now and get a Sedona while you still can?

That’s a fine question and one I’m going to do my best to help you answer. I’ll tell you right now that the 2022 Kia Carnival has a lot going for it, and it’s clear that Kia’s designers and engineers have spared no effort in making it an attractive option for a wide range of drivers. That being said, the Sedona that’s on its way out still has plenty of great features, so choosing the right one can be tricky––that is, of course, unless you have me here to help.

Power and Performance

Now, admittedly, “performance” isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when looking at a minivan, but it’s still important. Any vehicle you own should be fun to drive, and that depends a lot on the kind of power you have under the hood. As you might expect, the 2022 Kia Carnival MPV will offer more power than the outgoing Sedona, but not as much as I would’ve guessed before seeing the numbers.

Both models have a single-engine available, so comparing them is quite simple. The current 2021 Kia Sedona features a 3.3L V6 engine that offers up to 276 hp and up to 248 lb-ft of torque, paired with an electronically controlled 8-speed automatic transmission. By comparison, the upcoming 2022 Kia Carnival will have a 3.5L V6 engine that delivers up to 290 hp and up to 262 lb-ft of torque, paired with an 8-speed automatic. So yes, the engine in the Carnival will be more powerful than what you can get in the Sedona right now, but not by a huge margin.

It’s worth noting that both models have a maximum towing capacity of up to 3,500 lbs, so there’s not much difference there either. I should mention that the Sedona can get an estimated 18 MPG in the city, 24 MPG on the highway, and 21 MPG combined. While the Kia Carnival will be able to get an estimated 19 MPG in the city, 26 MPG on the highway, and 22 MPG combined. So the Carnival will be a bit more fuel-efficient than the current Sedona, but again not by a particularly substantial amount.

A blue 2022 Kia Carnival is shown from the side driving around a corner.

Exterior and Interior Design

Looking at both the 2021 Kia Sedona and the 2022 Kia Carnival from the outside, there are some clear stylistic differences. The Carnival has much more of an SUV-informed design that makes it look and feel more modern. It’s a sleek ride, for sure, and while it’s a bit larger than the Sedona, it’s only about two inches longer and nearly the same in terms of width and height.

Inside these two vehicles, you’ll also see very similar sizes and usable space. Both models have three rows of seating, though interestingly, the Sedona features 8-passenger seating as standard, while the Carnival MPV has 7-passenger seating standard and 8-passenger seating available. This means that the Carnival comes with a pair of captain’s seats in the second row as standard, while the Sedona has a second-row bench seat.

In the Sedona, the front row offers just over 39 inches of headroom and about 40 inches of legroom, while the second row has 39 inches of headroom and 41 inches of legroom, and the third row gives passengers 38 inches of headroom and 34 inches of legroom. By comparison, the Kia Carnival gives front-row passengers almost 41 inches of headroom and more than 41 inches of legroom, second-row passengers nearly 40 inches of headroom and more than 40 inches of legroom, and people in the third row about 36 inches of both headroom and legroom.

So you can see, while the third-row of the Carnival has a bit less headroom, it has quite a lot more legroom. Overall, however, the space is very similar. The Sedona has up to 142 cu.ft. of total cargo space behind the front row, while the Kia Carnival has just over 145 cu.ft. of total cargo volume. Again, similar numbers, but the Carnival has an advantage.

Luxury and Tech Features

This is one area where the advances and improvements of the 2022 Kia Carnival really set it apart. Looking at the Kia Sedona, its starting trim features a 7-inch infotainment display, a 6-speaker sound system, and a 3-inch display in the driver’s cluster. When you move up to the highest trim of the Sedona, the SX, then you find an 8-inch Infotainment display with Navigation, Harman Kardon premium sound system, and tri-zone climate control. The SX also has an 8-way power-adjustable driver and front passenger seats, leather details throughout, and a rear-camera display.

The 2022 Kia Carnival starts with an 8-inch infotainment display, standard, along with a 6-speaker sound system and a 4-inch trip computer display for the driver. Already it’s off to a great start, but when you look at the highest trim, the SX Prestige, then things really take off. The SX Prestige features a 12-inch infotainment display, Bose 12-speaker premium audio system, a rear-seat entertainment system, and a 12-inch cluster display for the driver. You also get a wireless phone charger, numerous USB ports throughout the interior, and a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with 2-way power lumbar support.

So, no matter how you look at it, the Carnival comes out on top. It has better features to start with, and once you move up the trim levels, it really blows away the Sedona.

A silver 2021 Kia Sedona is shown from the side with the lift gate open.

Price

Has this been a fair comparison so far? For the most part, I’d say yes––I’ve stuck to similar points between both vehicles and let the numbers and features really talk for themselves. That being said, there’s a certain amount of unfairness in comparing an outgoing model from this year against a brand-new model for next year. The other side of that, however, regards their prices.

The 2021 Kia Sedona starts at an MSRP of $30,400 right now. By comparison, the 2022 Kia Carnival has been announced with a starting MSRP of $32,100––nearly $2,000 more. And that price can go up quite a bit. The highest trim of the Sedona starts at $41,500––while the highest Carnival trim starts at $46,100. That’s a significant difference, and while the Carnival does give you more for that price, it’s still something to consider.

Final Considerations

Ultimately, if you want the best performance, the most interior space, and the finest technology and luxury features, then waiting for the 2022 Kia Carnival is definitely the way to go. That being said, it will likely cost you more than the Kia Sedona will right now––and by the time the Carnival is released, any remaining Sedona models could see a decent price cut to get them off dealership lots. That’s speculative, of course, but something to keep in mind.

In the end, you’ll have to decide on which features and options are most important to you. But if you want the best vehicle for your money, and you don’t need a new vehicle tomorrow, then waiting for the Kia Carnival seems like the right play.

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