The Kia Carnival looks to be getting an EV9-inspired face as part of its mid-life update.

    Kia’s updated people mover was spied by The Korean Car Blog, and through the camouflage we can make out distinctive vertical lighting elements in addition to more conventional horizontal ones as seen on the current car.

    The look appears similar to that of the Concept EV9, of which a production version will be introduced this year.

    Though there are no shots of the rear, the presence of camouflage suggests there will be some changes here, too.

    The Carnival will also reportedly gain a hybrid model, which has spelled the end of the Stinger as Kia makes room at its Sohari plant in South Korea in the second quarter of this year.

    The hybrid model is expected to use the same electrified powertrain as the related Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe hybrids.

    The Sorento and Santa Fe’s Toyota-style ‘parallel’ hybrid system consists of a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine making 132kW of power and 265Nm of torque. This is paired with a lithium-ion battery and an electric motor, making 44kW and 264Nm, mounted between the engine and six-speed automatic transmission.

    Total system outputs are 169kW and 350Nm.

    Full outputs of both the petrol engine and/or electric motor can be transferred in parallel through the transmission, with energy loss reduced accordingly. The battery is recharged via regenerative braking.

    While the hybrid crossovers are offered with all-wheel drive – a front-wheel drive-biased system with variable torque distribution – the Carnival Hybrid may be front-wheel drive-only, as Kia has never offered an AWD people mover.

    Also unlikely is a plug-in hybrid Carnival, as such a model would use a larger battery that would potentially impinge on cabin space – the Carnival’s raison d’etre.

    The current, fourth-generation Carnival was launched here early in 2021, though it has yet to receive features missing at launch and initially promised for 2022 as part of a rolling update.

    These include rain-sensing wipers, a digital instrument cluster, and the Blind Spot View Monitor camera system, all of which are available in other markets.

    High demand and supply constraints have led Kia to delay these features as it says it continues to clear months’ worth of back orders.

    Supply constraints last year also saw Kia try to direct prospective V6 buyers to the pricier turbo-diesel, of which supply was greater.

    The Carnival is far and away Australia’s favourite people mover, logging 8054 sales in 2022 – a 73.3 per cent share of its segment, and 66.9 per cent of the overall people mover market in Australia.

    While SUVs are vastly more popular than people movers, a hybrid model could further juice Carnival sales in Australia.

    The big Kia has already been aided by the withdrawal last year of its closest competitor, the Honda Odyssey, with sales rising by 37.4 per cent.

    It now has a fresh in-house rival in the Hyundai Staria (1721 sales), while the new Chinese LDV MIFA has gone on sale.

    MORE: Everything Kia Carnival

    William Stopford

    William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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