Australia’s best-selling people mover has been given a makeover, with the fourth-generation 2021 Kia Carnival revealed this morning ahead of a local launch later this year or early next.

    Despite being near the end of its life cycle, the current Carnival dominates people mover sales in Australia, accounting for over 50 per cent of the market. An all-new model is a big deal, especially given the Honda Odyssey and Hyundai iMax are getting long in the tooth.

    Due to go on sale in its home market of South Korea during the third quarter of 2020, the all-new Carnival has been overhauled inside and out, while also being pitched by the brand as a ‘Grand Utility Vehicle’.

    “The fourth-generation model builds on its predecessors’ heritage with 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,” the company says in its media release.

    “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.”

    The bonnet has grown and the overhang shortened for more car-like proportions, and an extended wheelbase compared to the outgoing model makes for more space in the cabin and a “longer, slightly more athletic silhouette”.

    Up front there’s new headlights and LED daytime running lights which glow in a new light signature. Kia says the high beam lamps are integrated into the corner of the ‘tiger nose’ grille, while the low-beam lamps sit at the outer edges.

    A strong character line spans the length of the vehicle, linking the headlights and tail lights, while the prominent C-pillar chrome fin gives the impression of a floating roof – Kia says this signature design was inspired by that of the new Sorento.

    The tail lights themselves are a full-width light bar, encompassing the Kia logo, while chunkier bumpers and contrast cladding all round give the Carnival a more rugged, SUV-like aesthetic.

    At this stage there’s no interior shots nor details about the new Carnival’s available powertrains. However, given the Carnival should share underpinnings with the new Sorento SUV as well as the Hyundai Santa Fe, it’s likely the cabin will be far more digital than before and hybrid power should be available for the first time.

    For the Hyundai and Kia SUVs, there are hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions on the way for certain markets, utilising a version of the company’s 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine mated to an electric motor and lithium ion battery pack in both cases – though the PHEV obviously has a much larger battery.

    The current petrol V6 and four-cylinder turbo-diesel powertrains should also be available in markets like Australia, albeit with a revised version of the oiler paired to a new eight-speed dual-clutch automatic.

    Inside, the Carnival should be available with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 10.25-inch widescreen infotainment system, with the former also incorporating the company’s new Blind Spot View Monitor – which projects a live feed from side-mounted cameras into the instrument cluster from either side of the vehicle when indicating to better show the vehicle’s blind spot.

    Further details are “to be revealed soon”, according to Kia, though the company has confirmed the new Carnival will go on sale in Korea during the third quarter of 2020.

    An Australian launch is likely either in the fourth quarter of 2020 or the first quarter of 2021, with next year’s 2021 Australian Open tennis Grand Slam to serve as a launchpad for the company’s flagship people carrier.

    Stay tuned to CarExpert for all the latest.

    James Wong

    James Wong is the Production Editor at CarExpert based in Melbourne, Australia. With experience on both media and manufacturer sides of the industry, James has a specialty for product knowledge which stems from a life-long obsession with cars. James is a Monash University journalism graduate, an avid tennis player, and the proud charity ambassador for Drive Against Depression – an organisation that supports mental wellness through the freedom of driving and the love of cars. He's also the proud father of Freddy, a 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI .

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