When we first saw photos of the 2025 Kia Carnival back in October, it looked like a solid, if relatively unexciting refresh for the minivan. But it turns out Kia had more up its sleeve. At the Chicago Auto Show, it revealed that the Carnival is getting a hybrid powertrain, helping it compete against the hybrid-only Toyota Sienna, and available plug-in hybrid in the Chrysler Pacifica.
It’s a familiar unit: the turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder coupled with a 72-horsepower electric motor also found in the Kia Sportage and Sorento hybrids. It makes 242 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque between the engine and motor. The only transmission is a six-speed automatic, and like the standard V6 model, it just powers the front wheels. Fuel economy hasn’t been announced yet. We wouldn’t be surprised if it comes somewhere near the economy of the Kia Sorento hybrid, since that’s the largest vehicle with the engine at the moment. The Sorento gets 37 mpg combined with front-wheel drive, and with the Carnival being a bit larger, it might lose an mpg or two. That should keep it close to the 36 mpg of the Sienna with front-wheel drive. The Pacifica Hybrid gets 82 mpg-e combined with a full charge, and 30 mpg combined with a drained battery.
If you’re not interested in going hybrid, the current Carnival’s V6 carries over. At 3.5 liters, it makes 287 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. It’s only available with front-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic.
Styling changes are modest. There are new headlights front and rear that have more vertical elements. The grille has been changed along with some tweaks to the bumpers and a reworked license plate surround on the rear hatch. New wheel designs appear, too, some of which are clearly inspired by the newest and still upcoming Kia models such as the EV9 SUV. A “Dark Edition” will come with, well, dark trim replacing the brighter metallic trim on the outside. The inside is even more subtly changed, picking up the multi-function touch panel from the EV6, Sportage and more for climate and infotainment shortcut buttons. It retains the instrument and infotainment monolith, with a standard set of digital instruments and 4.2-inch information screen, plus a 12-inch touch screen for infotainment. Dual 12.3-inch screens are available. A new infotainment operating system will be featured, and available rear entertainment comes courtesy of a pair of 14.6-inch high-definition screens. And among notable features are seven USB-C ports, phone-as-a-key functionality and Kia’s latest highway driving assist system that adds on-demand automated lane changes to the adaptive cruise and lane-keep functions.
The 2025 Carnival is set to go on sale this summer. It will be available in five trims: LX, LXS, X, SX, SX Prestige. The hybrid is available in all those trims except the base LX. Pricing will likely be announced, along with fuel economy numbers, in a few months, closer to the launch date.