CHICAGO – Kia Motors is adding a hybrid model to its Carnival minivan to meet growing consumer demand for the technology and help meet tougher federal fuel economy standards.
Hybrids are a growing option for automakers working to make vehicles more efficient and avoid costly federal fuel economy and emissions standards. They're also less expensive and a less drastic adjustment for consumers who want to go greener but aren't ready to buy fully electric vehicles.
Electric vehicle sales have been slower than expected in the U.S. auto industry.
Hybrid vehicles typically include a traditional internal combustion engine combined with EV technologies such as an electric motor and a small battery. They operate like traditional vehicles and do not need to be plugged in like electric vehicles or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
The Carnival hybrid, announced at the Chicago Auto Show, is expected to go on sale alongside an updated version of the traditional minivan sometime this summer. Both models feature updated styling and interior technologies compared to the current model, which made waves in the family hauler segment for its SUV-inspired design when it was introduced in 2021.
Interior of the 2025 Kia Carnival
Kia has not released its pricing or fuel economy expectations for the new models. The current carnival starts at around $33,000 to $47,000. With a 3.5 liter V6 engine, it achieves up to 20.6 miles per gallon combined city/highway, with a total range of 418 miles.
This V6 engine will continue to be offered alongside the 1.6-liter four-cylinder turbo-hybrid engine that produces 242 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque, according to Kia.
Kia expects the hybrid model to account for half of Carnival sales, according to the company.
This will be Kia's fourth hybrid. The automaker also offers three plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
In addition to the hybrid option, the updated minivan features a redesigned front and rear, including new headlights and a larger, more open grille at the front of the vehicle. The updated interior includes Kia's new infotainment system and other newer technologies. It continues to offer “VIP lounge seats” with power controls and leg extensions, much like a traditional recliner.
Kia Carnival 2025 “VIP Lounge Seating” with power controls and leg extensions, much like a traditional recliner.
Although the minivan segment in the United States is far from its peak of about 1.5 million vehicles in the mid-1990s, some automakers like Hyundai and Chrysler remain in the category.
Hyundai, Kia's parent company, which sold fewer than 44,000 Carnivals last year, achieved a 14 percent market share last year in the minivan market of about 305,500 units in the United States. United, according to automotive data firm Motor Intelligence.
Chrysler was the segment leader last year with sales of its Pacifica minivan, including a plug-in hybrid electric version, at more than 120,550 units, or about 40% market share.