Forget The Stereotypes. Here’s Why You Should Consider A Minivan For Your Next Family Vehicle.
People often ask me what kind of car they should look at buying, and if they have kids and not much need for towing or off-roading, then I will usually recommend a minivan, which is typically followed up with a scoff and/or eye roll. It’s hard to overlook the stigma attached to minivans. But in reality, if you have a medium-sized family, a minivan is the ultimate people mover.
Minivans have definitely come a long way since the 1980s with all of the luxury, technology, and style. While the market for minivans has shrunk significantly in the last 20 years, the current crop is the best this segment has ever seen. Standing as the most obvious proof of this claim is the 2022 Kia Carnival – the all-new replacement for the Kia Sedona.
It might not be big enough to switch to the #vanlife, but it’s still the perfect vehicle for any family road trip… from a Spring Break adventure to a cruise down Route 66. After spending a week test driving this all-new minivan, here are eight reasons to buy a 2022 Kia Carnival instead of an SUV:
The biggest reason to buy the 2022 Kia Carnival over an SUV is the overall level of comfort a minivan affords. The low step-in height, spacious interior, and convenient sliding side doors are all key advantages that make minivans ideal family haulers. The basic Kia Carnival offers up three roomy rows of seating for up to eight passengers, while the range-topping Carnival SX comes standard with second-row captain’s chairs. This drops the seating count to seven but improves shoulder room (and overall comfort) for these passengers.
Unlike some midsize SUVs (which are smaller than minivans but about the same price), adults will have no problem getting comfortable in this van’s third-row seat with a passenger volume that is similar or more than some full-size SUVs. Not only does the Carnival provide more third-row legroom and headroom than a Chevrolet Tahoe, it also has more overall cargo space.
I tested the Carnival in its SX Prestige trim level, which transforms the Kia Carnival into a true luxury vehicle with quilted leather seats and second row thrones (aka VIP lounge seats) that are able to slide, recline, and have fold-out leg extensions. This trim level even comes standard with heated and cooled seats for front- and second-row occupants!
The level of safety of this family vehicle is another great reason to consider a minivan over an SUV. The 2022 Kia Carnival comes with all of the latest safety features like lane keep assist, forward collision avoidance, and driver attention warning. The SX Prestige trim level even offers Smart Cruise Control and Kia’s innovative Blind Spot View Monitor, which uses cameras to display the vehicle’s blind spots on the digital gauge cluster when the turn signals are activated.
Best of all, thanks to the lower ride height, minivans tend to receive higher safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, although this brand-new Kia minivan has yet to receive official scores.
Most modern vehicles can be decked out with the latest tech goodies these days, but the Carnival (especially with the SX Prestige equipment) is like a living room on wheels. In addition to a 115-volt power inverter, USB ports for all three rows, and a 12.3-inch center display, the Carnival SX Prestige comes standard with a rear-seat entertainment system.
The pair of massive digital screens give rear occupants an assortment of entertainment options including streaming services. Sitting in the middle row of the 2022 Kia Carnival SX Prestige is arguably better than any experience you’ll get from a luxury SUV… especially kicking back with those extendable seat ottomans!
Minivans aren’t known to have the higher output of SUVs, but the 2022 Kia Carnival uses a powerful and efficient 3.5L V6 rated at 290 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. This engine pairs with a smooth eight-speed automatic transmission that helps return a decent 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. Combining these figures with the 19-gallon gas tank means that you’ll have to make fewer stops on family road trips. The downside of the Carnival’s powertrain is that it doesn’t offer features such as a hybrid system or all-wheel drive like its rivals, the Toyota Sienna and Chrysler Pacifica.
People love their SUVs for the commanding view of the road, but most of these big SUVs also return a harsher ride quality. Minivans, on the other hand, allow the driver to sit about as high as a midsize SUV while delivering a noticeably smoother and quieter ride. I had the opportunity to take the Carnival on a family road trip, and I felt more like a chauffeur as my wife and daughter both sat in the “VIP” seats.
SUVs may beat minivans on looks, but the 2022 Kia Carnival does its best to look less like a minivan with effective SUV-like styling cues. Kia actually refers to the Carnival as a multi-purpose vehicle (or MPV), and it says this family hauler is a “radical departure from the usual.”
When it comes to styling, minivans are infamously known for their door-stop design with fish-bowl style glass, but Kia has rewritten the game plan for the minivan by giving the Carnival blockier lines and more appealing traits. The hood and upright front end are a stark contrast to the designs found on rival minivans, while the thick metallic trim found on the C-pillar (just behind the sliding doors) resembles what you’ll find on a typical SUV.
Being the top-of-the-line SX trim level, the Kia Carnival I drove had features such as the glossy black 19-inch alloy wheel, satin/matte chrome accent trim, and full LED exterior lights. As is the case with many modern vehicles, Kia created ultra-stylish sickle-shaped running lights that cleverly blend into the concave grille, and at the rear of this minivan are equally eye-catching full-width taillights.
It seems like all new-car prices are through the roof right now, but the 2022 Kia Carnival is reasonably priced starting at $32,300. That makes this minivan less expensive than most midsize SUVs, including Kia’s own mid-size Telluride, and even decked out with all the optional goodies, the $47,770 as-tested price is a lot less than a fully loaded Honda Odyssey Elite. On top of the starting price, minivans are also more affordable than SUVs because they are generally cheaper to insure.
Minivans aren’t for everyone, but if you have a couple kids in tow, then these might be the perfect (and most underrated) vehicle you could choose. You might get a few jokes at the PTA meeting, but you won’t hear any complaints from the kiddos!
Lifelong automotive enthusiast with a soft spot for offroading. Wrencher turned writer, but I still love to tinker on just about anything with an engine. Dream car: tie between a ‘71 Hemi ‘Cuda and a ’91 GMC Syclone. #GirlDad #SaveTheManuals