Update: ‘Kia Carnival Hybrid release date’ section updated.
The fourth-gen Kia Carnival will receive a facelift this year, and with the mid-life update, the minivan’s range will reportedly see the addition of a Hybrid variant. The new Kia Carnival Hybrid has a fair chance of sailing to the U.S., where competitors are available with hybrid and plug-in hybrid options. Here’s what we know about the new S.Korean minivan.
The new Kia Carnival (codename: KA4 PE), including the first-ever Kia Carnival Hybrid, will feature considerable visual changes on the outside. According to an exclusive report eToday released on May 25, 2023, the minivan’s headlamps, radiator grille, and front bumper will see modifications.
Our rendering takes on an SUV-inspired look with its upright front-end, including a taller grille and vertical headlamps. The new upper grille has a more sophisticated appearance, too, with criss-cross vertical inserts. The XL-size LED DRLs would ensure that people recognize the new minivan even from a good distance. A refreshed bumper rounds up the new look at the front. We have also spotted prototypes with two-tone wheels wrapped in Goodyear 235/55 R19 101H tires, but various other options will be available in the production-spec vehicle.
At the rear, the new Carnival’s roof spoiler, combination lamps, tailgate, and bumper will carry changes. Spy shots have indicated that, like the new Seltos and Carens utility vehicles, it will feature L-shaped tail lamps. The vertical shape of the new taillights will help the Carnival gain an SUV-like character. We expect a horizontal light strip connecting the new tail lamps as well, and a small badge identifying the hybrid version.
According to the eToday report, the refreshed Kia Carnival will undergo some changes on the interior compared to the outgoing model. Its instrument cluster, door decor elements, speaker grille, center console, etc. will have revisions. Moreover, there will be some new features, including a head-up display, Highway Driving Assist 2 (HDA 2), and a camera-based digital interior rear-view mirror called ‘Digital Center Mirror (DCM).’
1.6L Hybrid powertrain
South Korean media had reported that Kia would launch the Carnival Hybrid with a 2.5-liter engine. In an alleged internal document (sales training material), Kia has clarified that this was incorrect, as many customers were pausing their purchases based on the reports, The Drive reported on March 21, 2023. The company has said in the document (which was seen circulating on S.Korean news outlets) that the powertrain of the new Carnival Hybrid will be based on a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine, as seen in the Sportage Hybrid and Sorento Hybrid, which should ensure a balance of power and efficiency.
The more recent eToday report also specifies that Kia will use a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine in the Carnival Hybrid, along with a 6-speed automatic transmission. In the Sportage Hybrid and Sorento Hybrid, the combination of a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine and an electric motor results in 227 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque.
Ground clearance & wheel options
eToday adds the Carnival Hybrid will be 10 mm taller than the regular Carnival, measuring 1,750 mm in height. The higher ground clearance is to mount the traction battery pack, which will have an energy storage capacity of 1.49 kWh. Wheel choices for the Carnival Hybrid, at least in Kia’s domestic market, will include 17-, 18, and 19-inch units.
We expect that the Kia Carnival Hybrid will be significantly more efficient than the gas-powered Carnival 3.5L V6, which returns an EPA-est. fuel economy of 22 MPG (combined). We expect its EPA est. fuel economy rating to be around 35 MPG. While the gas-powered Carnival 3.5L V6 has an EPA-est. range 418 miles, the Carnival Hybrid’s EPA-est. range could be well over 550 miles. That would mean far fewer stops at gas stations. Note that we have no confirmation from the company that the hybrid model is sailing to the U.S., and these are our estimates.
The refreshed Carnival and Carnival Hybrid will be made at the Kia Autoland Gwangmyeong plant (formerly the Kia Sohari plant), the home of the current minivan, in South Korea. In an exclusive report on August 20, 2023, Korea Economy revealed that the current model’s production is nearing its end, indicating the imminent arrival of the redesign. The South Korean publication had learned that Kia will prepare to stop production of the current minivan from the end of August 2023.
The new Carnival was scheduled to enter trial production on June 1, 2023, as per the report from eToday. During a period of three weeks, 24 units of the Hybrid variant were to be manufactured. Between June 26, 2023, and July 19, 2023, 99 units of the hybrid minivan were to be produced as part of the second phase of trial production. Series production of the new model, presumably including its Hybrid variant, would start on November 11, 2023, said the report. The U.S. and other global markets will continue receiving the minivan from the S.Korean factory.
Kia Carnival Hybrid release date
Kia is expected to launch the first-ever Carnival Hybrid as part of the facelifted Carnival series. On September 1, 2023, the company announced in its August 2023 global sales report that it plans to launch the new Carnival by December.
Kia will continue its sales momentum with the launch of the new Sorento SUV, K5 sedan, and Carnival MPV models in the second half of 2023.Kia Corporation’s global monthly sales announcement on Sept 1, 2023
According to a report ET News released on July 9, 2023, the new Carnival, including the first-ever Carnival Hybrid, will be the final launch in Kia’s updated model cadence for the year, meaning it will debut in the brand’s home market in November 2023.
eToday also reports that Kia will launch the new Carnival in South Korea in November 2023. Interestingly, it claims that domestic sales will begin three months after the reveal, in February 2024. Exports of the new minivan will reportedly commence in April 2024. It’s safe to assume that the U.S. will be the first on the list of destinations. The Carnival enjoys a strong position among RVs (MPVs & SUVs) in Kia’s home base, and the prospect of a hybrid variant with the facelift has further fueled excitement.
For the U.S.
The new Carnival and the Carnival Hybrid could arrive in the U.S. as a 2025 model next year. For America, the gas-powered 2024 Carnival (unchanged design-wise) was recently announced with an update that removed all-auto up/down and safety power windows from the EX trim and discontinued the option to delete the power liftgate from the same trim to save USD 350 in the 8-seat version.
Kia Carnival sales
The Kia Carnival’s sales in the U.S. declined by 22% (5,449 units) in 2022 to 19,706 units (2021: 25,155 units). However, things have started to look up for the S.Korean minivan this year. Between January and August 2023, Kia delivered 28,535 units of the minivan, 14,089 units or 96% more than the same months in 2022 (January-August 2022: 14,446 units). Kia America would be eagerly anticipating the arrival of its revised minivan next year, so to stabilize its presence in the segment.
The Kia Carnival Hybrid can be a great value-for-money minivan with significantly lower fuel consumption and a notably higher range than the V6-powered vehicle. In mpg, it should be able to match Toyota’s Sienna Hybrid, or at least come close to it, and attract a new set of customers to the brand. As far as we can tell, there’s no apparent reason for Kia managers to stop the electrified Carnival from entering the U.S.!
Featured image: TopElectricSUV’s rendering of the new Carnival.