A long-anticipated, petrol-electric hybrid version of the Kia Carnival people mover is reportedly due to be unveiled in South Korea late this year as part of an EV9-esque mid-life facelift.

    As reported by Autospy, this information was revealed in what appears to be a South Korean dealer bulletin also detailing the recently revealed EV9 electric SUV.

    The Carnival hybrid will reportedly use the same hybrid drivetrain from the Kia Sportage, Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe hybrids.

    The setup used in those crossovers generates a total of 169kW of power and 350Nm of torque by sandwiching a 44kW/264Nm electric motor between the six-speed automatic transmission and a 132kW/265Nm 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine.

    In terms of power, that places the hybrid between the 148kW/440Nm 2.2-litre turbo-diesel, and the 216kW/355Nm 3.5-litre V6 petrol.

    At this stage it’s unclear if the Carnival hybrid will be front- or all-wheel drive. It’ll likely be the former as Kia has never offered an all-wheel drive people mover.

    It’s also unclear if the Carnival hybrid will come to Australia, but the company currently offers hybrid versions of the Sorento and Niro crossovers. The Sportage hybrid is also set to arrive locally early next year.

    Over the last few months there have been a number of spied facelifted Carnival prototypes caught during testing. The exterior changes give it a look more reminiscent of the EV9 and Telluride SUVs.

    Up front there’s a new headlight cluster arranged in a vertical stack. There might be a separate horizontal strip of LED driving lights close to the bonnet’s edge.

    The front bumper also features a new grille, and revised lower intake design. The Carnival’s overall profile and glasshouse appears to have not been altered as part of the update.

    At the back there’s a new hockey-stick tail light cluster poking out from the disguise. Thanks to the covering we can’t quite tell if they flow into a red plastic strip that spans the width of the tailgate.

    The licence plate holder now sits further down the tailgate, closer to the rear bumper.

    With much of the dashboard covered, we haven’t been about to see what Kia has in store for the cabin.

    It’s possible the interior will receive a less radical makeover compared to the exterior. The only thing we’re able to make out, so far, is a large horizontal slab housing the instrumentation display and touchscreen infotainment system.

    At the very least these units will feature the company’s latest operating system, and graphics package.

    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 of its closest competitor, the Honda Odyssey, last year with sales rising by 37.4 per cent.

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

    MORE: Everything Kia Carnival

    Jack Quick

    Jack Quick is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne. Jack studied journalism and photography at Deakin University in Burwood, and previously represented the university in dance nationally. In his spare time, he loves to pump Charli XCX and play a bit of Grand Theft Auto. He’s also the proud owner of a blue, manual 2020 Suzuki Jimny.

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