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2025 Kia Carnival Hybrid minivan adds mpg but not AWD in refresh

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  • February 8, 2024

Kia on Thursday added a hybrid version of its Carnival minivan, as part of a mid-cycle revamp that brings technology upgrades and somewhat more SUV-inspired styling. 

The 2025 Kia Carnival Hybrid will be powered by a 1.6-liter turbo-4 gasoline engine, with a 54-kw (72-hp) electric motor at the input shaft of a 6-speed automatic transmission, sending power to the front wheels and making a combined 242 hp and 271 lb-ft of torque. Non-hybrid models will also be offered with a 3.5-liter V-6 making 287 hp and 260 lb-ft, with an 8-speed automatic. 

Kia notes that the Carnival Hybrid offers three levels of regenerative braking. Additional features that appear to be hybrid-related include a feature aiding power delivery out of corners and one assisting evasive handling.  

2025 Kia Carnival Hybrid

2025 Kia Carnival Hybrid

2025 Kia Carnival steps up the screens and tech

Kia gives the Carnival its most significant overhaul on the inside, up front, with an available 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen integrated into a single panel, providing connected-car navigation, over-the-air updates. That’s the upgrade versus a standard 4.2-inch TFT gauge cluster with a 12.0-inch screen. A full-color head-up display is optional, as is a digital rearview mirror system, and in back Kia’s own connected rear entertainment system provides entertainment with dual 14.6-inch HD screens and Bluetooth.

Additionally, the “Hey Kia!” voice functionality distinguishes between occupants in the first and second rows, with an available VIP Lounge Seat configuration capable of deploying via voice command. 

Kia also says there’s a total of seven USB-C ports throughout the Carnival, along with two power outlets and two 115-volt inverters to keep all the family’s devices powered up during travel and at cabins or campsites. 

2025 Kia Carnival Hybrid

2025 Kia Carnival Hybrid

Carnival Hybrid three-row seating

While the non-hybrid Carnival can be equipped in 7- or 8-seat layouts, the Carnival Hybrid is only offered in the 8-passenger layout, with a second-row seat in three different segments including a middle section that can slide forward or back for access to the third row. 

On the outside, the changes are more subtle, but the Carnival clearly channels the look of the highly successful Telluride SUV. It gets a more upright, squared-off grille and a more chiseled look to the front fascia—as well as the Telluride’s amber running lights. 

You still won’t find all-wheel drive in the Carnival lineup. That doesn’t stop Kia from loading on the adventure cues, with a roof rack available on the Carnival, as is a “wide and contoured skid plate.”

2025 Kia Carnival Hybrid

2025 Kia Carnival Hybrid

2025 Kia Carnival Hybrid alternatives

The Carnival Hybrid joins the other two hybrid minivan entries in the U.S., the Toyota Sienna and the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid.

Both of those rivals have a special hook, and keep their high-mpg hybrid prowess understated. The Sienna is only offered as a hybrid, without costing much if any more than non-hybrids. And the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid does more than its badging implies; it’s actually a plug-in hybrid with a 32-mile electric range and qualifies for a $7,500 EV tax credit—as a direct rebate at participating dealerships. 

That leaves one model, the Honda Odyssey, that doesn’t yet offer a hybrid version. With Honda’s aims to add more hybrid tech to its established models, that might be in the product pipeline, too.

2025 Kia Carnival Hybrid

2025 Kia Carnival Hybrid

The Carnival Hybrid could provide a huge boost in fuel economy and offer substantial fuel savings and lower ownership costs. In the Kia Sorento Hybrid, a system with similar specs boosts mileage to 37 mpg combined. The 2024 Kia Carnival earns just 22 mpg combined. 

As of yet, Kia hasn’t said whether the Carnival Hybrid might be offered as a plug-in hybrid—but there is a Sorento Plug-In Hybrid offering 32 electric miles of range.

Kia hasn’t yet disclosed pricing or run through all the trim-level differences in the 2025 Carnival Hybrid lineup, but it says the Hybrid will be offered in all but the base LX—leaving LXS, EX, SX, and SX Prestige versions. The hybrid-enriched Carnival lineup is set to go on sale in summer 2024. 

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