In an unprecedented change, the Kia Sedona minivan has officially changed its name and will no longer proudly share it with the city in the Great State of Arizona. It will instead be called the 2022 Kia Carnival — take what you will from what Kia could mean by that.
Kia officially revealed its fourth-gen minivan back in June. It suspiciously showed off only the Korean-market version of the new van, called the Carnival, and many assumed the upcoming U.S.-market version would naturally be called the Sedona like the three generations that came before it.
That won’t be the case, though. For the first time, Kia Carnival will be the van’s global nameplate even in America, according to documentation filed with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
A Kia VIN decoder document dated November 23, 2020 that was posted to sedonaforum.com clearly shows the model name for the 2022 model year as Carnival. Sorry, Sedona folks. Just as Kia tries to make its minivan cool, it abandons your name along with the sagging minivan image from its past. Ouch.
The new Carnival is more inspired by rugged SUVs than previous generations of the van, with Kia even attempting to reposition it as a Grand Utility Vehicle to sound cooler. The L-shaped C-pillars clearly evoke a pickup truck silhouette from the side, a designer’s attempt to minimize the visual bulk of the sliding doors. And the rear end is significantly squared-off at the edges.
Other than some visual tricks, though, this is still a roadgoing van underneath it all. Front-wheel drive is standard, with an eight-speed automatic transmission, and it will be available only with a 3.5-liter V6 engine of 294 horsepower and 261 lb-ft of torque. More options and official pricing will be announced later this year, and it’s expected to go on sale in the summer.
The U.S. has done plenty over the last decade (or more, who’s counting?) to earn a somewhat clown-like, carnival reputation. I’m not saying that’s why the Korean automaker decided to dip on the people of Sedona, Arizona, in the renaming of its family-mover. If it is the reason for the change, I’m just pointing out that we Americans can’t really argue against it.