That confirmation may come at the Los Angeles Auto Show later this month, according to motor1.com. If Kia shows off the hybrid, or announces its intended release window for the US market, we’ll know for certain. But otherwise, let’s review what we know about the forthcoming Kia’s first hybrid minivan so far. Car and Driver showed us the external revisions to the 2025 model last month, which include lots of cosmetic revisions over the current model like: new larger headlights, LED accent strips and a fresh grill design define its new nose while on the back end new tail lights almost completely wrap around from fender to fender. Kia also offers up some new wheel designs as well. Motor1 offered up interior photos and more details about changes we can most likely expect for the 2025 model, including a more spacious and less cluttered center console (which swaps in the rotary gear selector used on other Kia models and the same touch panel, with fewer buttons, as the Sportage, Sorento, and Niro have). Kia also announced it would include improved shock absorbers and extra sound-deadening material for a quieter, and smoother ride in addition to improved digital key, better support for over-the-air updates, a new heads-up display, and the inclusion of its more advanced semi-autonomous Highway Driving Assist 2 system that also includes a lane-change assist function.
I previously had suggested that a hybrid Carnival was likely coming to the US, though I seemed to have missed the timeframe by about one model year. Though we may not know for certain that Kia is planning to bring the hybrid minivan to the US for at least another week or so, I simply cannot see any reason, other than possible supply chain constraints, that Kia would not bring its hybrid Carnival to the US for the 2025 model year. There are still only two other electrified minivans on sale in the US currently, the Toyota Sienna hybrid which gets 36 MPG combined and the plug-in hybrid Chrysler Pacifica which can go an EPA estimated 32 miles on its battery before switching to gas and getting a combined 30 MPG. I suspect that the Kia Carnival will get better gasoline powered efficiency than the Pacifica, but it may be slightly less efficient than the Sienna. I say this because the non-hybrid Carnival is already less fuel efficient than its Kia SUV sibling the Sorento. The hybrid Sorento gets an impressive 37 MPG combined, making it the most fuel efficient, gas powered 3-row SUV on the market in the US. I suspect that the carnival, in hybrid form, will come in with a rating of 33 - 35 MPG if Kia uses a 4 cylinder engine (or more like 30-33 if they use a 6 cylinder). Knowing that the 2025 model year doesn’t seem to include any significant aerodynamic changes and absent any news about lightweighting the vehicle, I anticipate that the hybrid powertrain won’t quite match Toyota’s efficiency mark. Further, since Kia currently only uses its 1.6 liter 4 cylinder engine (both with and without a turbo) for its hybrid models, I am inclined to expect Kia will use the same 1.6 liter turbo 4 in the Carnival hybrid. One note of uncertainty that immediately surfaces for me though, is that the Carnival is already heavier than the Sorento (which uses the 1.6 turbo in its hybrid) and would likely be as heavy or heavier than Toyota Sienna. If Kia does not make efforts to slash weight from the Carnival, or perhaps only offer it on the lighter versions (likely the base/lower trim models), I would be modestly concerned about acceleration in the Carnival hybrid. The Sorento hybrid has 227 horsepower from the 1.6 liter turbo + electric motor (18 less than the Sienna). Kia could go with a larger battery for the Carnival that could supply a more powerful electric motor and perhaps boost that powerplant by 10-20 HP or so. Whatever approach Kia takes otherwise, it will potentially affect their sales as the new Carnival could end up being underpowered and a laggard compared to the Toyota and Chrysler competition.
What do you think? Are you looking forward to a new, more efficient minivan/MPV option? Are you concerned about its potential shortcomings? Please leave your questions and comments below.
Images courtesy of Kia.
Justin Hart has owned and driven electric vehicles for over 15 years, including a first generation Nissan LEAF, second generation Chevy Volt, Tesla Model 3, an electric bicycle and most recently a Kia Sorento PHEV. He is also an avid SUP rider, poet, photographer and wine lover. He enjoys taking long EV and PHEV road trips to beautiful and serene places with the people he loves. Follow Justin on Torque News Kia or X for regular electric and hybrid news coverage.