Minivans aren’t exactly huge business in America anymore—of 3.5 million new vehicles sold in the first quarter of the year, just 81,000 or so were of the sliding-door variety—but nevertheless Kia has just dropped a few official images of its next-generation Carnival, which you know better as the Sedona.
Kia calls the new Sedona minivan a “grand utility vehicle,” for whatever that’s worth. It’s not clear if that description indicates that the van will be moving up in specification or if it’s simply marketing hyperbole. Kia says the design is “SUV-inspired” because minivans are vehicle non grata these days, and that influence can be seen in a rear three-quarters view that shows a whiff of—of all things—Ford Expedition to the surface interactions, as well as the longer, flatter hood. The latter a visual trick applied variously by minivan makers over the years to give their vans more of a rugged, off-roady vibe, including by General Motors with its 2005–2009 U-platform “Crossover Sport Vans” and Nissan with its floundering full-size NV.
On the ’22 Sedona, the headlamps are connected to Kia’s “tiger-nose” grille (here stuffed with diamond-pattern mesh) via complex daytime running lights that also strongly define each element. The van’s otherwise slabby sides feature a crisp beltline crease that runs from headlamps to taillamps as well as a chrome garnish along the rocker panel. This is in direct contrast to Toyota and its new 2021 Sienna, which is more bulging and organic. Similar to the 2021 Sorento SUV, a chrome sail panel with diamond-pattern detailing is fitted to the C-pillar to add some additional sizzle. Overall, the design seems to build on the sophisticated simplicity of the smash-hit Telluride SUV.
Additional details remain scant so far, but Kia claims space is increased inside and that the new Sedona has not only a longer wheelbase but also a shorter front overhang. In an interesting twist on lighting, the high-beam headlamps are located at the upper corner of the grille, while the turn signals sit below the daytime running lights and the low beams remain in the traditional outboard location. Much of the front light detailing is echoed in the taillamps, which are housed in one full-width element. Visual tricks to make the van seem taller, a faux rear skid plate, and a blacked-out lower front fascia play up the “I’m really an SUV!” theme.
The Sedona’s cabin, meanwhile, evolves upon the current minivan’s. Like today’s Kia people mover, the 2022 model features a center console that meets with the dashboard, which includes two 12.3-inch displays—one serving as a digital gauge cluster, the other as an infotainment screen. Those screens are complemented by touch-sensitive climate controls and a twist-dial gear selector. Expect smaller screens, analog gauges, and physical climate control buttons to appear on lower-end models.
Of course, with fewer than 6,000 Sedonas moved so far in 2020, we have to wonder if Kia will bother bringing the new model to America this time around. We reached out to Kia Motors America, who said, essentially, it has nothing to say about the next-gen Sedona until it does. But even as the Telluride brings scores of new buyers into the Kia fold, there’s nothing like the easy-driving character and efficient practicality and packaging of a minivan. The new Carnival goes on sale in Korea in the third quarter of this year, with other markets to follow.
This post was updated with an image of the 2022 Sedona’s interior, including additional information related to the van’s insides.
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