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2021 Kia Carnival teased, will share a platform with the all-new Sorento

John Law

Kia has revealed renderings signalling the future of the family-favourite Carnival. With the advent of SUVs, the practical Carnival has been somewhat forgotten in recent years; the new design language looks to address that, though.

Kia claims to have sold over two million of the MPVs that debuted in 1998. The inception of the Carnival was well-timed, and the world market lapped them up alongside the revolutionary Renault Espace and Chrysler Grand Voyager.

However, in recent years, the minivan market has shrunk, buyers opting for the perceived cool-factor of SUVs like Kia’s own Sorento, the Hyundai Santa Fe and Mazda CX-9 over the practical Minivan.

Addressing that head-on is Kia’s new styling direction for the Carnival. Although the image released is just a render, it’s evident that Kia has taken on design cues from popular SUVs in the new design.

2021 Kia Carnival render - 1
It’s only a render but if it looks half as good we’ll be stoked.

The front grille is bluffer than before and incorporates a more substantial and imposing iteration of Kia’s tiger-nose grille. A confident body line runs down the side of the Carnival to accentuate the length of the car. 

Kia has coined this concept “symphonic architecture” and say that it harmoniously brings together “technical features” – like the Carnival’s new headlighs – and “structural energy.” 

It seems Kia’s designers have borrowed from some of the SUV market’s strong performers, though, which leads to hints of both Range Rover Evoque and Skoda Kodiaq in the design language. 

2019 Skoda Kodiaq RS review blue
A hint of the Skoda Kodiaq in the new Carnival?

First impressions are positive of this render, the Carnival certainly looks sharper than ever before, though that might be partly down to the designer tendency to sketch wheels equivalent to 26-inches in the real world.

Kia is confident that the new Carnival will be cooler than before, and as such intend to further distinguish it from its past by referring to the new vehicle as a “grand utility vehicle”.

Currently, the 2020 Carnival offers a choice of powertrains in Australia; there’s the 2.2-litre turbocharged diesel engine with outputs of 147kW/440Nm or the option of a high-revving naturally aspirated 3.3-litre V6 with 206kW/336Nm.

2019 Kia Carnival Platinum silver front 3/4
The current Carnival – we’re likely to see powertrains carry over for the next-gen.

It’s too early to call what will be powering the next-generation Carnival, though, given Australian’s love big capacity petrol engines, we’re likely to see the return of the petrol V6.

But Kia has said that the new Carnival will share underpinnings with the coming Sorento, so it’s likely that 2.2-litre turbo diesel will make it here, too. Overseas that Sorento looks like it will be available with a downsized 1.6-litre petrol-electric hybrid powertrain. However, that is unlikely to reach Australian shores in either the Sorento or Carnival by 2021.

While a people-mover would make the perfect place to nestle a hydrogen fuel-cell, it’s doubtful we’ll see any of Hyundai’s Nexo technology make it to a the Carnival just yet.

2019 Kia Carnival Platinum dashboard
The current Carnival is a surprisingly luxurious place to spend time.

Pricing for the 2020 Carnival starts with the $43,190 ($47,521 driveaway) petrol-powered S variant, topping out at $63,490 ($68,836 driveaway) for the range-topping diesel-powered Platinum.

We expect the price to increase slightly for the next-generation Carnival, reflecting a very likely increase in active safety technology and infotainment levels.

Kia says the next-generation Carnival will be on sale in South Korea by the end of 2020 before arriving in Australia by early 2021, with more details and images coming soon.