What's in a name? The Kia Sedona was a minivan mainstay for years. As the minivan market fragmented into expensive and posh or cheap and durable, the Sedona remained a resolute middleman. It became the choice for buyers who wanted something a little less highfalutin than one of the Japanese vans or the snazzy Chrysler Pacifica but demanded something more modern than the ancient - and now thankfully deceased - Dodge Grand Caravan.

For 2022, it appears the Sedona has gone the way of the Caravan, but Kia isn't backing out of the minivan game just yet. A new van, dubbed Carnival, makes its debut this year, a van that features all-new design inside and out.

While the new name might sound like an odd choice - though it could be quite fitting in describing the circus that is a family road trip - the Carnival nameplate is well-established overseas. As Kia goes about a quiet rebranding - a move that brings a new logo and a slew of new products - the company has decided to lean into the Carnival name here in America.

Pleasant, powerful V-6. Despite the seismic industry shift towards hybridization, electric power, or turbocharged four-cylinders, every Carnival comes with a 3.5-liter V-6 making 290 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. These numbers are almost a dead ringer for the 3.6-liter V-6 found in the Chrysler Pacifica and Voyager.

While 290 horsepower is no longer as impressive as it once was - what a world we live in! - it is certainly enough to scoot this van along with authority. It lopes along without complaint and can cruise for days without breaking a sweat. It has enough muscle to tow 3,500 pounds and can easily contend with a full house of passengers and their cargo.

The V-6 does let us down in one major metric: fuel economy. The EPA quotes 22 mpg combined, which is worse than some large crossovers and SUVs and well below the 36 mpg combined of the new Toyota Sienna.

The eight-speed automatic transmission shifts quietly and seamlessly, quickly finding its way to top gear. If you need to hasten the pace, there's a second of hesitation before the transmission allows a lower gear to be selected.

Brakes, handling, steering - all are as average as it gets. For a van, we'll take it. After all, minivans aren't intended to be sports cars. When it comes to moving people comfortably and easily, the Carnival has all the right moves.

Kia Carnival

Urbane design inside and out. The new Carnival sets itself apart from its predecessor with all-new styling that does its best to distance itself from the usual minivan characteristics. While the long roof and big, tall body are present and accounted for, the new hood and windshield design are far more suggestive of crossovers.

The former is flat, unwaveringly stretching out to the uppermost edge of the grille; the steep pitch of the latter copies the angles found on a crossover or SUV. Overall, there's some real style here - something we couldn't say about its dowdy predecessor.

The interior is also redesigned in the modern look, with plenty of allusions to the Telluride. While the traditional minivan design eschewed a center console for easy access to the back seat, the Carnival uses a car-like full console with conventional shifter. Attractive cloth upholstery and aluminum trim make for a premium appearance even on the lower-spec vans.

A larger 8.0-inch touchscreen is now standard; upper trims swap that unit out for a 10.3-inch screen. The flagship SX Prestige trim tops things off with a digital gauge cluster measuring 12.3-inches. With the full complement of screens the Carnival takes on a highly contemporary appearance.

We're sure passengers would appreciate that, but they'll probably be too busy stretching out in the cavernous space the Carnival affords its occupants. Utilizing a 121.7-inch wheelbase, there's 40.5 inches of legroom for the second-row and 35.6 inches for the third row. Cargo space tops 145 cubic feet with all the seats out of the way.

Value. Kias of the Telluride era have largely continued to be affordable, value-packed offerings compared to their competition, typically undercutting them in price while matching or beating them in features. We don't see that with the Carnival.

Let's start with the base model for proof. It begins at around $33,000 - a cool $5,000 more than the Chrysler Voyager. Admittedly, that van caters almost exclusively to fleet sales and skinflints, but we're still surprised to see Kia so far out of line with the segment's most affordable offering. Though the Voyager isn't fancy, it is still a good van, and is a killer deal for anyone who isn't enthused with the latest doo-dads.

The Carnival starts about $3,000 or so higher than last year's Kia Sedona. Of course, the new van will try to justify the markup with standard features not included on last year's base model. Among these new standard features are power-sliding rear doors, wireless device charging, and a larger touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

That's all nice, but a bit of discontenting for a more affordable base model would be nice to see. After all, aside from the Voyager, the Carnival also is more expensive than the Honda Odyssey. That makes the Carnival the third-priciest minivan in a segment that's currently five strong. The pricier offerings? The hybrid-only Toyota Sienna and the pseudo-luxury Chrysler Pacifica.

Up the food chain, the Carnival stretches past $47,000 for a loaded model - almost as much as a loaded Telluride. This model, known as the SX Prestige, gets second-row captain's seats that are heated and ventilated and also feature reclining backrests and extendable ottomans. The leather upholstery and 12-speaker audio system complete the illusion of luxury.

Final thoughts. The Kia Carnival costs more money than the Sedona ever did, but the heftier price tag buys more features, more style, more luxury, and more comfort. That's a lot of more, and it brings the Carnival up to par with the segment leader - the indomitable Chrysler Pacifica.

Whether the Carnival can actually beat out the Pacifica in a head-to-head is too tough to call right now. But there is no doubt this Kia van should shake up the status quo. Considering Kia's long list of recent hits, we shouldn't be surprised.

Check prices for the 2022 Kia Carnival »