Kia Carnival hybrid minivan coming this summer

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CHICAGO – Kia Motors is adding a hybrid model to its compact lineup to meet growing consumer demand for the technology and help meet stringent federal fuel economy standards.

Hybrids are a growing option for automakers as they try to make vehicles more efficient and avoid costly federal fuel economy and emissions standards. They are also cheaper and less of a change for consumers who want to go green but are not ready to buy electric vehicles.

Sales of EVs have been slower than expected in the US auto industry, although they are expected to grow.

Hybrid vehicles usually include a traditional internal combustion engine combined with EV technologies such as an electric motor and a small battery. They work like traditional vehicles and don’t need to be installed like EVs or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

Kia America’s Vice President of Marketing, Russell Wager, told CNBC that adding the hybrid option for the Carnival was about giving customers options. The South Korean automaker is aiming to have electric models across its lineup.

“It’s just going to add a whole new audience, because we didn’t have a hybrid,” Wager told CNBC.

The Carnival hybrid, announced at the Chicago Auto Show, is expected to go on sale alongside an updated version of the traditional minivan this summer. Both models feature updated styling and interior technologies compared to the current model, which made waves in the family hauler segment for its SUV-inspired design when it was launched introduced in 2021.

2025 Kia Carnival interior

Kia

Kia did not release pricing or fuel economy expectations for the new models. The current Carnival starts from around $33,000 to $47,000. With a 3.5-liter V6 engine, it achieves up to 20.6 miles per gallon city/highway combined, with a total range of 418 miles.

That V6 engine will continue to be offered along with the 1.6-liter four-cylinder turbo-hybrid engine that produces 242 horsepower and 271 foot-pounds of torque, according to Kia.

Kia expects the hybrid model to account for half of Carnival sales, according to the company.

This is Kia’s fourth hybrid. The automaker also offers three plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

In addition to the hybrid option, the updated minivan includes a redesigned front and rear, including new lights and a larger, more open grille at the front of the vehicle. The updated interior includes Kia’s new infotainment system and other newer technology. It still offers “VIP lounge seats” with power controls and leg extensions, similar to a traditional lounge chair.

2025 Kia Carnival “VIP lounge seats” with power controls and leg extensions similar to a traditional lounge chair.

Kia

Although the US minivan segment is far from its peak of about 1.5 million vehicles in the mid-1990s, some car companies such as Hyundai and Chrysler are still in the segment.

Kia parent Hyundai, which sold fewer than 44,000 Carnivals last year, achieved a 14% market share of the roughly 305,500 unit minivan market last year in the US, according to automotive data firm Motor Intelligence.

Chrysler was the leader of the segment last year with sales of its Pacifica minivan, including a plug-in hybrid electric version, at more than 120,550 units, or about 40% of the market share.

“We don’t like being where we’re ranked in our market segment,” Wager said. “We think we can compete with any of the others in the segment.”

Wager said the Carnival, which is imported from South Korea, is limited by capacity, meaning Kia could sell more in the US if they could bring more of the vehicles to -in.

He said the company is increasing Carnival’s production capacity for the US

The extra capacity as well as additional production of other Kia models should help the automaker surpass last year’s record US sales of 782,451 vehicles.

“Our goal is to sell more than we sold for what we sold last year,” Wager said.

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