A couple of months ago, we got a glimpse of a refreshed Kia Carnival that suggested it would be borrowing some design cues from the upcoming EV9 electric SUV and current Telluride gas-powered SUV. Thanks to one of our spy photography sources, we’ve got another look at a similar prototype, and those cues clearly extend to the back of the minivan, too.
In a quick recap, the nose of the new Carnival features some dramatically different headlights. Instead of the current model’s small headlights that blend into the grille, this prototype has comparatively large vertically-oriented lights. The camouflage makes it look like they’re L-shaped, but looking closely, the horizontal openings in the camouflage just show sheetmetal. These upright lamps will likely give the Carnival a more blocky, more SUV-like front end. There’s a very ornate grille poking through the coverings, too, but we’re not sure whether it’s the real thing or a dummy to throw us off. It’s pretty elaborate, and when it comes to Hyundai Motor Group products, wild parts can easily be production-ready.
Being a refresh, the midsection of the Carnival is basically unchanged, and that brings us to the tail. Here, we do see L-shaped lights that are clearly related to the lights from the Telluride and EV9. Again, this will probably strengthen the family connection to the SUVs and deemphasize the minivan-ness of the Carnival. The camouflage obscures most of the hatch, so it’s hard to tell if the lights are still connected across the middle like the current Carnival, but that would seem possible and give the Carnival a bit of lighting uniqueness.
The Carnival is only just wrapping up its second model year on sale in the U.S., so a facelift already seems soon, but not out of the question. If it doesn’t launch this year, it will most likely be for the following model year. Reportedly, there’s a hybrid version coming, probably with the refresh, to compete with the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid and the Toyota Sienna (only available as a hybrid now). The turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder with around 227 horsepower would be likely, since it’s shared with other Kia SUVs (Sportage and Sorento), and it would leave us wondering if a plug-in version could also be offered like those SUVs. Time will tell.