Minivans aren’t exactly huge business in America anymore—of 3.5 million new vehicles sold in the first quarter of the year, just 81,000 or so were of the sliding-door variety—but nevertheless Kia has just dropped a teaser of its next-generation Carnival, which you know better as the Sedona.
Kia calls the new Sedona minivan a “grand utility vehicle,” for whatever that’s worth. It’s not clear if that description indicates that the van will be moving up in specification or if it’s simply marketing hyperbole. Kia says the design is “SUV-inspired” because minivans are vehicle non grata these days, and that influence can be seen in the longer, flatter hood. That’s a visual trick applied variously by minivan makers over the years, including by General Motors with its 2005-2009 U-platform “Crossover Sport Vans” and Nissan with its floundering full-size NV van.
The ’21 Sedona’s front fascia visually connects the headlamps to Kia’s “tiger-nose” grille via complex daytime running lights that also strongly define each element. On the sides, a crisp beltline crease runs from headlamps to taillamps, but the panels otherwise seem spare and slabby. This is in direct contrast to Toyota and its new 2021 Sienna, which is more bulging and organic. A chrome sail panel is fitted to the C-pillar to add some additional sizzle. Overall, the design seems to build on the sophisticated simplicity of the smash-hit Telluride SUV, but we’ll have to see real images, not to mention the next Sedona in person, to see if Kia’s hit another design home run.
Of course, with fewer than 6,000 Sedonas moved so far in 2020, we have to wonder if Kia will bother bringing the new model to America this time around. We reached out to Kia Motors America, who said, essentially, it has nothing to say about the next-gen Sedona until it does. But even as the Telluride brings scores of new Kia buyers into the fold, there’s nothing like the easy-driving character and efficient practicality and packaging of a minivan. The new Carnival goes on sale in Korea in the third quarter of this year, with other markets to follow.