This Kia Carnival Is the Maybach of Minivans

This Kia Carnival Is the Maybach of Minivans

07/14/2021

Why buy a Mercedes-Maybach if you’re just looking to get some work done on the way to the office in comfort? The all-new Kia Carnival may have gone on sale in the U.S. this winter, and is seemingly roomy and luxurious enough, but there is always room to take it a step further.

Say hello to the Kia Carnival Hi-Limousine with seating for just four, offering an absurd amount of room and airline-style first class seating for the rear seat passengers. This model has just debuted in South Korea, offering VIP seating with quilted Nappa leather for actual VIPs, along with 21.5-inch screen, LED ambient lighting, pleated curtains all around, a pop-out foot massager, as well as heated and cooled cupholders.

Not only has Kia redesigned the interior with reclining leather seats and a center console, complete with a 7-inch touchscreen, but it has also managed to dramatically boost the headroom via a roof extension, which looks like a cargo pod on the outside. Right in the nose of the roof extension is where the 21.5-inch TV is positioned, so that the rear seat passengers can either watch the traffic up front through the windshield, or watch the TV higher up.

The price? Just under $76,000, which is not as much as two regular Kia Carnivals, but is quite a bargain compared to something like a top-tier Cadillac Escalade. The advantages here are perhaps the much lower entry floor, higher roof and room to stretch out, making this a vehicle focused entirely on interior comfort—not exterior glitz.

This is a segment that doesn’t really exist in the U.S., or doesn’t exist anymore after the heyday of conversion vans, but it’s very big in Asia, and to a lesser extent in Europe. Buick is a player in this game as well, having offered the GL8 van in China for close to two decades, while the Toyota Alphard in top trim is another popular option, though it’s not quite as decadent and doesn’t come with a Lexus badge.

In Europe, vans of this type made by Mercedes and converted to mobile offices by specialists like Brabus can also be armored by companies like Friederichs, Trasco-Bremen, Carat Duchatelet and others.

Of course, the most expensive part of this particular Carnival model isn’t even shown: the chauffeur who you’ll have to hire to do the driving. Otherwise you’ll have to do the driving yourself and will just have to pilot a very large minivan. And that doesn’t sound like a luxury experience. But you wouldn’t be alone—Maybach and Rolls-Royce owners had this conundrum too: If they bought the Maybach 57 or the Phantom they’d look like someone’s chauffeur. One can pull off driving a Phantom with an empty back seat, but buying a Maybach 62 for yourself to drive seems like a stranger purchase.

Should Kia offer this version of the Carnival stateside, or is there no market for it here? Let us know in the comments below.

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