Kia Carnival vs. Kia Telluride

By

Automotive Editor

Willis is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. Born and raised in Colorado, he graduated from Williams College. When he's not writing about cars or the outdoors, he spends his time rock climbing or reading with his two cats.


, Automotive Editor - May 19, 2021

The Kia Telluride is one of the most popular SUVs on the market. Since its debut in 2019, the Telluride’s combination of value and luxury has stolen the thunder of SUVs up and down the price spectrum.

Kia is back for a follow-up act: the 2022 Kia Carnival is a replacement for the outgoing Sedona, but it looks more like the Telluride than a minivan. Both models offer three-row seating, acres of cargo space, and plenty of room to stretch.

Which is the better buy? We took a closer look to break down the differences based on a comparison of the key specs and features.

See a side-by-side comparison of the Kia Carnival & the Kia Telluride »

What The Carnival Gets Right

Although the Kia Carnival is technically the larger vehicle, you wouldn’t know it from the price. In most trims, the Carnival saves a few bucks over an equivalent Telluride, although the difference is small.

The Carnival is aimed at family use, and it includes a few features not found on the Telluride. The most obvious is the sliding doors, but the Carnival can be outfitted with luxuries like heated and cooled second-row lounge seats.

In the way-back, the Carnival has an edge on passenger space. The Telluride’s third row offers passengers 31.5 inches of legroom, while the Carnival gets 35.6. For anyone with an age in the double digits, the extra space makes a difference.

Finally, the Carnival’s maximum cargo capacity outshines even the capacious Telluride. Both can fit about 87 cubic feet behind the second row, but the Carnival’s second row is removable, which boosts capacity to a cavernous 145.1 cu ft.

What The Telluride Gets Right

The Carnival may have a larger third row, but the Kia Telluride is more luxurious up front. In addition to top-notch interior materials, the Telluride offers second-row passengers 42.4 inches of legroom — nearly two inches more than the Carnival.

When the going gets tough, the Telluride is more likely to get going. The Carnival is stuck with front-wheel drive, while the Telluride offers all-wheel drive for wet conditions. Properly equipped, the Telluride can tow up to 5,000 pounds (1,500 more than the Carnival).

The SUV has eight inches of ground clearance, over an inch more than the Carnival. If you’re planning to leave the pavement, the Telluride will take you farther.

Finally, there’s the matter of style. The Carnival dresses up its profile with sharp angles and tall proportions, but it can’t completely hide its minivan shape. It’s a nice design, but the Telluride remains the more elegant ride.

A Matter of Taste

Although these two models fall in different segments, not much separates the two. They’re very close in price, comfort, and utility. The difference comes down to the details.

The Carnival prioritizes everyday usability for families, and it’s most noticeable in the third row. The Telluride puts more emphasis on capability, and all-wheel drive offers peace of mind for snow-state buyers.

Our Verdict: Kia Telluride

In some ways, the Kia Carnival is more like the Telluride than the outgoing Sedona — and that’s not a bad thing. Both models offer excellent comfort and value, and we encourage family buyers to take a close look at the Carnival. For its versatility and style, however, the Telluride is our winner.

Take a closer look at the Kia Carnival »

Take a closer look at the Kia Telluride »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Willis is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. Born and raised in Colorado, he graduated from Williams College. When he's not writing about cars or the outdoors, he spends his time rock climbing or reading with his two cats.


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