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2021 Kia Carnival GUV detailed

By Daniel Gardner, 19 Aug 2020 Car News

2021 Kia Carnival

New Kia Carnival revealed in full, local spec and Australian pricing to follow

Kia has detailed its fourth-generation Carnival people mover in full, revealing new engines, sharper chassis, and significantly more technology and space, including room for up to 11 occupants.

Exact Australian specifications and pricing are yet to be revealed but are expected soon ahead of the model’s arrival in local showrooms toward the end of this year. WhichCar understands the variant line-up will be similar if not identical to the existing range, with four specification grades and the two engine choices currently on offer.

The all-new model hit forecourts in native South Korea today, offering a first complete look at the popular Carnival including its cavernous cabin and some interesting innovations.

2021 Kia Carnival


Rolling on the company’s new platform, the 2021 Carnival has grown in all directions. Measuring 5.2m in length, it is longer by 40mm than the outgoing model and has an extra 30mm in its wheelbase. It’s also 100mm wider at just under the even 2.0 metres, and has a rear overhang that’s lengthened by 30mm.

The net result is more space for people and things. According to which variant you choose, the Carnival offers three seating arrangements including the most luxurious seven seater; which has three-seat third row, two ‘premium relaxation seat’ places in the middle row and two up front.

2021 Kia Carnival

In this configuration, middle occupants are offered a “relaxation mode” one-touch electric operation to recline the ‘business class’ style seating. The middle row can also be flipped to face the third row.

Read next: Best seven-seaters
For more capacity, there’s a three-seat middle row option for a total of eight onboard, while a new four-row option balloons the Carnival’s capacity to a minibus-like 11! Kia Australia is yet to confirm if this version will be part of the offering coming Down Under.

2021 Kia Carnival

With just two people riding in the Carnival, all rear seating can be stowed for a monstrous load capacity of 2905 litres. Even in three-row configuration, the Carnival still offers an impressive 627-litre boot.

‘Smartstream’ powertrains

As with the third-gen model, the Carnival is offered as a four-cylinder turbo diesel or a non-turbo V6 petrol, but both engines have been significantly updated for the new model.

The naturally aspirated V6 petrol is now larger at 3.5 litres and, thanks to direct injection has lifted power and torque to 216kW and 355Nm. It also features exhaust gas re-circulation (EGR) and a more advanced thermal management system to cut fuel use and emissions.

2021 Kia Carnival

The diesel option appears to be little different from the outgoing equivalent with the same 148kW/440Nm as the existing four-cylinder engine. However, the previous version’s cast-iron block has been swapped for much lighter alloy saving 20kg, along with higher-pressure fuel injection, thermal management system, and vibration-smoothing balancer shafts for an overall improvement in efficiency and refinement.

A lower-power version of the V6 is also available with more conventional fuel injection which produces similar outputs to the current version although, once again, Kia Australia has not revealed which of the three engines local customers will be offered. Our money would be on the diesel and more sophisticated V6.

All engines are bolted to an eight-speed automatic transmission with power sent to the front wheels only.


With a new platform to play with, Kia’s engineers have overhauled the Carnival’s ride and handling characteristics for a more comfortable ride without compromising driving enjoyment, it says.

Fully independent suspension is standard all round as it was before but with completely revised geometry and mountings in all corners. At the front there’s a new lighter arrangement that includes electric power steering in place of mechanical power-assisted version for faster more responsive steering.

2021 Kia Carnival

At the back end, the redesigned suspension is attached using fluid-filled bushings that eliminate more vibration and noise from the road surface for improved cabin comfort.

The revisions have also boosted the Carnival’s dynamics with more resistance to roll, better distribution of loads and more stable manner on the road.

Read next: Kia also has a new Sorento
Most importantly, says Kia, the chassis and suspension rework along with more widespread use of sound insulation has produced a Carnival that is a more pleasant place for all occupants with improved noise vibration and harshness (NVH) levels.

Either way, Kia's popular people mover will have its final chassis tune fettled for its arrival in Australia, as is the case for all Kias.

Comfort technology

Also adding to the more premium Carnival ambience are a number of technology upgrades with a massive 12.3-inch information and entertainment touchscreen as the centrepiece. It’s integrated into the driver’s instrument cluster seamlessly under a single pane of glass the spans more than half the width of the cabin.

2021 Kia Carnival

The system houses standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity applications as well as a number of Kia’s own Kia Live services, while two smartphones or devices can be connected via Bluetooth at the same time.

A dedicated camera allows the front row occupants to check on rear-seat passengers without leaning around which is both safer and more comfortable. There is even a microphone and speaker voice amplifying system that prevents people at the back having to shout to be heard.

2021 Kia Carnival

And for the first time, rear occupants have access to voice control features, not just the front row.

Getting things in and out of the Carnival’s impressive cabin is also easier with the new model. A smart button function allows the powered sliding side doors and tailgate to be opened simply by standing near the for a few seconds. And when loading or unloading the Kia at night, there are new puddle lights to ensure safe and dry footing.

Safety technology

Kia’s Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) has bundled even more passive and active safety gear into the new Carnival. Headlining the electronic safety suite is forward collision avoidance which recognises cyclists and pedestrians as well as other vehicles and larger obstacles.

But it’s complemented by blind-spot collision avoidance, adaptive cruise control, speed limit recognition, lane-keeping assist, driver fatigue monitoring, and automatic high-beam headlights to name but a few. Standard safety equipment will be region specific, but Australia is likely to receive the high-end versions.

2021 Kia Carnival

Another new system prevents the sliding side doors from opening if the Carnival detects approaching traffic, while rear cross-traffic detection not only warns, but also brakes if approaching vehicles are not noticed by the driver.

First look story published June 24 2020

Daniel Gardner

Kia has unveiled the fourth-generation of its pretty, popular and practical Carnival people mover ahead of its arrival in Australian showrooms late this year.

The first full view of the Korean car maker’s capacious eight-seater follows a sneak teaser sketch that was released last week, confirming the handsome evolution of the current model’s looks will feature in the new version.

2021 Kia Carnival teaser sketch
Kia Carnival teaser sketch

While the overall smart exterior styling continues into the new generation, there’s an obvious lean toward American customer’s tastes, where the Carnival also has a strong following, with more bright metal, mixed finish materials and boxy lines.

Australian customers will get their say on the design when the new Carnival hits local showrooms in the fourth quarter of 2020 although, exact timing, pricing and specifications are yet to be confirmed.

2021 Kia Carnival

Kia Australia has, however, indicated that the fourth-gen Carnival range will include most if not all the levels of specification offered for the current model, which includes entry level S, mid-range Si and SLi, and range-topping Platinum variants.

MORE Kia Carnival 2020 range review. specs and photos

There’s no word yet on powertrains, new technology that’s expected to elevate the line-up, nor a first look at the Carnival’s cavernous cabin. 

While some other offerings in the segment clearly present their connection to commercial vehicles, the Carnival design does a good job of distancing itself from a converted van look, including a special segment name coined just for the Carnival.

2021 Kia Carnival

According to its maker, the new styling goes even further into the realm of SUVs and draws inspiration from the smaller Sorento sibling, requiring the new title Grand Utility Vehicle or GUV.

Styling highlights include an evolution of the company’s ‘tiger-nose’ grille, which now houses fine chrome-look mesh, a pair of miniature high-beam lamps separated from the main light cluster but tied together by serpentine LED daytime running lights at the circumference.

The practical and novel sliding doors for rear passengers continue from the third-generation Carnival and the signature shorter rear window has evolved with a brushed metal frame that resembles a ute sports bar.

2021 Kia Carnival

At the back, a continuous light bar wraps from one sliding door rail to the other capped by a continuation of the rear window’s brushed metal trim.

Kia’s Carnival dominates the people mover/GUV segment in Australia with at least 50 percent of the share from one month to the next and has peaked at 75 percent on occasion. Kia is planning for the new version to continue the popularity among local customers.

Original sneak peek story published June 18 2020

Tom Fraser

Kia has hinted at the form of its updated fourth-generation Carnival people mover will take when it hits the market in 2021. 

A global reveal is expected next month in which Kia will showcase the 2021 Carnival, along with its new updates to in-car technology and safety systems.

These updates will ensure that Kia hangs onto the best-selling people mover accolade, a title it’s long-held over its Honda Odyssey, Toyota Granvia, Hyundai iMax and Volkswagen Multivan rivals.

Read next: Should I buy an SUV or a People-mover?

South Korea will go to the Carnival first later this year, which likely means an Australian touch-down of early 2021.

The new design is dominated by a strong character line that’s formed at the headlights of the new minivan, which then extends alongside the car. 

2021 kia carnival

Kia calls the new Carnival as a ‘Grand Utility Vehicle’, which is actually a pretty apt description of the five-door, eight-seat family wagon which is one of the local arm's best-selling cars.

READ MORE: Seven-seat large SUV comparison review

Other characteristics like chrome trim surrounding the roof and a ‘tiger-nose’ grille will ensure the new Carnival connects better to the design language of Kia’s current range of cars. 

2019 Kia Carnival facelift revealed2020 Kia Carnival

This next generation will be built on top of an all-new platform that it will share with the recently announced Sorento.

This should mean a reflection of the Sorento's 2.2-litre diesel and 3.5-litre V6 engine options, though we'll know for sure in July.

Currently, the front-wheel-drive Carnival is powered by a 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel or 3.3-litre six-cylinder petrol engine options.

More than two million Kia Carnivals have been sold since the genesis of the nameplate in 1998. 

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