The updated 2024 Kia Carnival will be the first electrified entrant in Australia’s mainstream people mover class, with a turbocharged hybrid drivetrain confirmed for an introduction later this year.

    General manager for product at Kia Australia, Roland Rivero, told CarExpert the Carnival HEV is a sure starter for our market – just don’t expect it in high volumes from launch.

    “Supply will be very limited as per Sorento HEV,” Mr Rivero said. “Hence, expect one trim only.”

    “Changes will be similar to Sorento PE (Product Enhancement) upgrades. Expect all features which didn’t arrive for launch to be added, and expect a retune of ride and handling,” Mr Rivero added.

    Mr Rivero’s comments indicate that we can expect the Carnival HEV to arrive as a single high-spec variant in the range, likely based on the existing Platinum flagship and commanding a $2500-4000 premium over the diesel.

    Considering the current Platinum 2.2D is priced from $71,890 drive-away, a new Platinum 1.6T HEV should come in the mid- to high-$70,000 bracket factoring in price rises that will no doubt come with the facelifted range.

    Power in the Carnival Hybrid comes from the same 1.6-litre turbocharged hybrid drivetrain as the related Sorento, which offers system outputs of 169kW and 350Nm. A six-speed automatic sends drive to the front wheels, compared to the eight-speeder in V6 and diesel versions.

    Korean specifications quote combined cycle fuel economy of 7.1-7.4L/100km, which slightly betters the diesel. Given the Aus-spec Carnival 2.2D quotes 6.5L/100km on the ADR cycle (based on the older NEDC testing regime), the HEV could be closer to 6.0L/100km – and the gap would widen with heavier use in urban areas.

    Beyond the introduction of an electrified drivetrain, the new Carnival will finally get features missing from Australian-spec models such as rain-sensing wipers, a digital instrument cluster, and the brand’s Blind Spot View Monitor.

    Confirmation of a revised ride and handling tune means the Carnival ‘PE’ will have a fully localised calibration, compared to the outgoing model which had an Australian suspension tune but not a local steering map due to challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Further, the new Carnival will pick up Hyundai and Kia’s new ccNC infotainment setup with dual 12.3-inch displays and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while local versions will finally introduce Kia Connect telematics and online services.

    Using the new Sorento as a guide, prices could rise between $3000-4000 as a result across the range. Expect more standard equipment from the base grade to help offset the raise somewhat.

    The Kia Carnival was by far Australia’s favourite people mover in 2023, racking up 11,312 registrations for the calendar year.

    Within Kia’s own range, it was the second best-selling nameplate locally behind the Sportage SUV (15,747 units).

    Kia’s popular MPV held an astonishing 82.4 per cent share of the mainstream people mover class under $70,000, outselling the second placed Hyundai Staria by nearly 10 to 1 (1141 units).

    That’s all despite Kia Australia being hampered by supply challenges throughout the duration of 2023, caused by component shortages for higher grades, and even a stop-sale of V6 petrol versions due to high global demand for the engine unit.

    No doubt with the introduction of the updated range including a hybrid, demand is only likely to increase. Stay tuned for the latest in the lead-up to the new Carnival’s local launch in the coming months.

    MORE: Everything Kia Carnival

    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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