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2021 Kia Carnival/Sedona: Don't Call It a Minivan

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The vehicle you see here may bear the name of a minivan, but Kia Motors affectionately (and perhaps optimistically) refers to it as a “Grand Utility Vehicle.”

Appearing in South Korea on Wednesday wearing next-generation duds, the Carnival —aka the North American-market Sedona — apparently wants to be mistaken for an SUV. The brand’s designers made sure the resemblance was more than fleeting.

Clearly Kia in origin when viewed from the front, the vehicle adopts a very tall version of the brand’s corporate Tiger-nose grille, employing a blunter front end and flatter (as well as longer) hoodline to mimic the bold face of most sport-utility vehicles. That’s just the beginning. A squared-off body displaying more pronounced wheel arches, blacked-out A- and B-pillars, floating roof, ruler-straight bodyside lines, and full-width rear light bar all serve to visually move the Carnival/Sedona out of the dustbuster space.

Only the rear door track and handle placement signals that anything’s amiss.

Indeed, Kia’s copy speaks to this effort. The brand aimed for “a more architectural sense of solidity and an upgraded appearance that draws on the overarching design ethos that links all of Kia’s cars design identity,” Kia stated.

“Matched with highly detailed, futuristic details and SUV-inspired design elements, the new model brings a stronger, more stylish presence to the mid-sized MPV segment.”

Ah, there it is. Viewed from the rear quarter, the minivan would fool more than few people into believing it doesn’t share the same segment with the Honda Odyssey and Chrysler Pacifica. Could the efforts of Kia designers pay off in markets where superficial buyers increasingly shun the minivan body style and all of the negative emotional baggage that comes with it?

As for the revamped vehicle’s cabin, content, and powertrain, those remain unknown quantities for now. The Carnival goes on sale in South Korea in the fourth quarter of the year, with the North American-market Sedona following sometime thereafter. Stay tuned for more details on this well-disguised people mover.

[Images: Kia Motors]

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