Powertrains: 287-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine with eight-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive or 242-hp, turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder paired with an electric motor and six-speed automatic transmission
Kia’s Carnival is one of our favorite minivans, as it comes with all kinds of family-friendly tech, comfortable chairs, SUV-like styling and a seemingly endless supply of surprise-and-delight features. Despite the fact that it just got a tweak to content for the 2023 model year, Kia decided that a more extensive redo was in order. Now, the 2025 Carnival minivan wears new styling, has a new interior, comes laden with even more technology — and even sports a new hybrid powertrain.
The big story for 2025 comes under the hood. The Carnival’s prior gas engine carries over for the 2025 model year; the snappy 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V-6 makes a stout 287 horsepower and 260 pounds-feet of torque and is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission that drives the front wheels. But new for 2025 is a first-ever Carnival Hybrid, which combines a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with a 54-kilowatt electric motor and a six-speed automatic, making a combined system total of 242 hp and 271 pounds-feet of torque.
The Hybrid model only gets 17-inch special aerodynamic wheels, and its regenerative braking can be adjusted in the vehicle’s Eco/Smart drive mode. Called Electrification-Vehicle Motion Control, the Carnival allows for three levels of regenerative braking control, which is adjusted through the paddle shifters. The hybrid variant will also have an unusual level of electric handling assistance, including E-Handling (designed to improve cornering response), E-Ride (special shocks meant to improve ride quality) and E-Evasive Handling Assist (for emergency steering maneuvers).
It’s indisputable that minivans make the best family vehicles, hands down — but that doesn’t mean that people want to be seen driving them, as minivans also come with an image that can’t really compete with big SUVs. With that understanding, Kia takes yet another step into making its minivan into an “SUV with sliding doors” by redesigning the front and rear ends to match the rest of the high-tech Kia look.
The “Opposites United” design language (yeah, I’m not sure what that means, either) is present here, with a much more chiseled look to the front and rear end, cubelike headlamps and the amber “Star Map” daytime running lights that definitely lend a family resemblance to the new electric EV9 or smaller Niro. It’s the same out back with new taillights, and new wheels range from 17 inches to 19 inches depending on which trim you choose (LX, LXS, EX, SX and SX Prestige for the gas model, or LXS, EX, SX and SX Prestige for the hybrid). A new Dark Edition package blacks out much of the exterior, including the roof rails, skid plates, exterior mirror covers, grille and wheels, plus the trim on the C-pillar, side doors and tailgate.
New Cabin, New Tech
Inside, the Carnival’s interior also has been updated to reflect the latest Kia shapes and textures. More use of ambient lighting is available via a full-width hidden light strip spanning the dashboard, while more horizontally oriented information displays and climate controls have been added. Up front are two big 12.3-inch screens, one for the driver display and the other for the central touchscreen (the base versions use a smaller 4.2-inch driver display with regular gauges and a 12-inch touchscreen). For added visibility, a full-color heads-up display is optional, as is a rear camera mirror that replaces the traditional one, useful for seeing behind the vehicle when the interior is loaded up with people and cargo.
As before, seven- or eight-occupant seating is available, and the VIP Lounge Seat Package returns with second-row captain’s chairs that can be fully reclined with leg extensions; they’re now deployable on voice commands. In fact, voice commands are expanded in the new Carnival to do all kinds of new things, such as lower the windows with a word or two. Saying “Hey Kia” out loud in either of the first or second rows (the Carnival now knows which is which) allows for such personalized control with voice commands for key activations.