Kia Carnival Hybrid production to commence this year: Report [Update]

  • Will be part of the new Kia Carnival (facelift) range, as per Korean media reports
  • Could have a 1.6L turbo engine assisted by an e-motor, offering a balance of power & efficiency
  • An EPA-est. fuel economy of around 35 MPG is expected from the electrified minivan
  • Will it come down to the U.S. as a 2024 or 2025 model?

Update: ‘Design’ section updated with new render, and ‘Sales’ section revised.

The fourth-gen Kia Carnival will receive a facelift by the end of 2023, and with the mid-life update, the minivan’s range will reportedly see the addition of a Hybrid variant. The Kia Carnival Hybrid has a fair chance of sailing to the U.S., where competitors are available with hybrid and plug-in hybrid options.

S.Korean websites uncover the Kia Carnival Hybrid

According to a post on Naver cafe allfm01, the Kia Carnival Hybrid will enter production at the Kia Autoland Gwangmyeong plant (formerly the Kia Sohari plant) on November 15, 2023. The post mentions the hybrid minivan as a derivative of ‘KA4 PE,’ which is the codename of the Carnival, with ‘PE’ the abbreviation of ‘Product Enhancement.’

It’s not the first time a Carnival Hybrid has made the news. On September 13, 2022, Asia Times reported that Kia would begin producing the Carnival Hybrid in 2023. The rollout would begin earlier, in June 2023, according to this article. The company was already preparing for production of the hybrid minivan at the Gwangmyeong factory, the local publication said.

Despite no consensus on the production date in the media, a Carnival Hybrid is expected to debut and reach dealers in 2023. Note that Kia has not confirmed the variant, and the timelines mentioned in the reports are for the S. Korean market.


Kia Carnival Hybrid rendering
TopElectricSUV’s rendering of the Kia Carnival refresh (pictured) is based on S.Korean news reports/online chatter of it borrowing styling cues from the EV9.

Kia is testing the Carnival facelift in South Korea, where local media has published many spy shots since late last year. The restyled model appears to feature a new radiator grille and new, vertically-stacked headlights among other changes. The extensive design revisions indicate that the front-end would look visibly different. We have seen prototypes with 19-inch two-tone wheels wrapped in Goodyear 235/55 R19 101H tires, but it’s safe to assume that various options will be available.

Meanwhile, South Korean artist NYMammoth (YouTube link) has offered his version of the new Carnival that features 4-element vertically-arranged LED headlights with what appear to be extended L-shaped DRLs, and a modern interpretation of Kia’s tiger nose grille with silver surrounds and a woven mesh pattern. The sculpted lower fascia has sporty elements such as recessed side intakes, twin-LED foglights, and an aggressively-styled faux skid plate design. The render also includes a muscular clamshell hood.

Kia Carnival 2023 front (Facelift) render
S.Korean automotive illustrator NYMammoth has rendered the new Carnival with inspiration from recent spy shots and the EV9. Image: NYMammoth/Youtube


Kia may use a combination of a 1.6-liter turbocharged gasoline engine and an electric motor in the Carnival Hybrid, identical to the new Sportage Hybrid and Sorento Hybrid. This combination results in 227 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. However, instead of a 6-speed automatic transmission like the SUVs, it is likely to employ an 8-speed AT in the electrified minivan.

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 the 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 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 estimates.

Furthermore, there are rumors in the media that a Kia Carnival EV and a Kia Carnival FCEV derivatives are also in development. However, these inclusions are unlikely to arrive at dealerships, neither in South Korea nor in the U.S., before 2024.

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). Kia hasn’t revealed whether the Carnival’s consumer demand lowered during the year or its availability, or both. However, things have started to look up for the S.Korean minivan. YTD sales of the Carnival hit 4,122 units at the end of February 2023, registering an increase of 72.6 percent.

TopElectricSUV says

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. As far as fuel economy goes, it should be able to match Toyota’s Sienna Hybrid, or at least come close to it. As far as we can tell, there’s no reason to stop the electrified Carnival from entering the U.S.!

Featured image: TopElectricSUV’s rendering of the new Carnival.