As Motortrend reported earlier this week, Kia has increased the output of the electric motor in its hybrid system from 59 horsepower (in the Sorento and Sportage HEV models) to 72 horsepower in the 2025 Carnival HEV. It also increased the torque its electric motor puts out, but interestingly that 13 horsepower difference is not the full difference, in combined gas and electric total, between the Carnival and Kia’s SUV hybrids (which suggests Kia may also have squeezed a couple more horsepower, and perhaps extra torque, from its turbo four as well). The all up figures for the Carnival are: 242 hp/271 lb-ft compared to the Sorento HEV’s 227hp/258 lb-ft. The total HP difference is 15HP, which suggests that Kia may have managed to get 2 more hp from its gas engine. Whether that tweak to the gas engine also contributes to the additional 13 lb-ft of torque is not clear, but as I proposed in a previous article, Kia knew that they needed a little more power from the hybrid powerplant for the heavier Carnival (compared to the Sorento). One thing that remains to be confirmed is the battery size of the Carnival HEV. With the additional power, it might be safe to assume at least a small, corresponding increase in the capacity of the hybrid battery too (compared to the Sorento hybrid). Since the Sorento HEV has a 1kWh battery, and the electric motor puts out 59 hp, the 13 extra ponies represents a 22% bump in output, for the Carnival HEV’s electric motor. If a corresponding increase in the battery capacity is needed to support the additional output of the electric motor, we might expect a 1.2 kWh battery in the Carnival HEV, too.
Will the small increases be enough to keep the Carnival competitive with its primary hybrid rival, the Toyota Sienna? I would say quite confidently the answer is yes. The Sienna, for comparison, only musters 245 hp and 176 lb-ft from its hybrid powerplant. We don’t know how much the 2025 Carnival HEV might weigh, yet, but it will likely be very close to the weight of the Sienna given that the 2024 V6 version of the Carnival weighs about 100-200 pounds less than the Sienna. The extra 95 lb-ft of torque in the Carnival HEV should give it a noticeable amount of extra shove in passing and accelerating maneuvers compared to the Sienna. As US News and World Report points out in their review of the Sienna, it feels slower than the competition, the engine groans under demand and the brakes are grabby. From my ownership experience with the Sorento PHEV I know that Kia has done an excellent job with their hybrid braking system and its turbo four hybrid powerplant is smooth and quiet. Thus, I would anticipate that Kia may have a far more appealing hybrid minivan than Toyota, soon. If I were Toyota, I’d be a little nervous. That said, I think the Toyota Sienna will likely have at least one advantage over the Carnival HEV: better efficiency, especially if the Carnival HEV comes in AWD trim. The AWD Sienna gets about 36 MPG. We don’t know what the Carnival HEV’s MPG figures will be yet, but I expect it will achieve 33-35 MPG in FWD configuration. If the Carnival HEV also comes in AWD trim, I expect it might come in at 32-34 MPG.
Are you interested in Kia’s new hybrid people mover? Would you be cross shopping it against Toyota’s minivan? Would the likely better performance of the Kia move your toward the Carnival, or would the likely fuel efficiency advantage of the Toyota be more convincing? ANy other reason you might pick one over the other? 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.