The mid-life update of the Kia Carnival people mover has been spied in South Korea ahead of its local arrival in the first half of 2024.

    Spy images published on Autospy show the updated Carnival is set to adopt an EV9-like LED headlight and tail light setup, as well as a similar wheel design. This is becoming a common trait among updated Kia vehicles, including the Picanto and Sorento.

    This particular Carnival prototype is still covered in black heavy camouflage so it’s hard to make out any more details.

    As previously reported, the updated Kia Carnival is set to receive the brand’s next-generation infotainment system which will support wireless smartphone mirroring and over-the-air (OTA) software updates.

    “Our rollout of the sixth-generation Connected Car Navigation Cockpit (ccNc) will commence with the EV9 later this year, followed by the updated Sorento and Carnival,” said Kia Australia product planning boss Roland Rivero to CarExpert in June.

    “This next-generation infotainment system will have the hardware to facilitate OTA updates and wireless smartphone mirroring for models with built-in satellite navigation.”

    Mr Rivero also said the updated Carnival will finally introduce a range of features that have been missing since the fourth-generation model launched locally in 2020.

    “That’s the opportunity to bring all these respective features in like rain-sensing wipers, digital cluster, Blind Spot View Monitor, all of these promised features that weren’t ready in time for launch due to COVID,” said Mr Rivero.

    “They’ll all make their appearance at PE [mid-life update] time.”

    In addition to its new look, a petrol-electric hybrid version of the Carnival is set to join the range with the update.

    When asked about its existence and if it’ll be coming to Australia, Mr Rivero previously said Kia Australia has always got its “hand up for it, but for the moment right-hand drive hasn’t been secured”.

    Autospy reported earlier this year that the Carnival Hybrid will reportedly use the same hybrid drivetrain as the Kia Sportage, Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe hybrids.

    In these models, the hybrid powertrain generates total system outputs 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.

    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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