New 2022 minivan offerings have sleek looks, rugged capability

Can a minivan be cooler than they have been in the past? Kia would like to think so. They've come up with a clean-sheet design called the Carnival. Oh, and to twist semantics a bit, they don't even call it a minivan, instead using the term "multi-purpose vehicle."

But it's got the things that make a minivan so useful, like dual sliding doors and three rows of roomy seating to move the whole bunch around. Mom and dad get pampered too, and safety technology is everywhere, though not all standard on every trim level. Base prices range from $33,275 for the LX model to $47,275 for the SX Prestige top trim level.

Style-wise, the Carnival has a crisp, edgy look, especially compared to Kia's former minivan, the Sedona which was replaced by the Carnival.

This isn't the first go by a brand to make a van look a little different. Chrysler brought out the Pacifica a few years ago, with its own distinctive shape. The head of design for the entire company (Stellantis) has said that it's a design he's particularly proud of.

The minivan has to be one of the most polarizing vehicle categories in the automotive world. People who embrace them say there's no better vehicle for a busy family life, like toting kids to school, to sports practice, and on family vacations. And then there are those who would never even consider one, saying they're not as cool looking as an SUV.

Toyota's upping the game and bringing a bit of a macho vibe to its Sienna model with the Woodland Special Edition. The Sienna was all-new a year ago, and this more rugged variation comes with all-wheel drive, extra ground clearance, and features like a standard tow hitch which can pull a trailer up to 3,500 pounds, and an on-board 1500-watt power inverter with outlets in the center console and the rear cargo area.

This new model carries a base price of $46,565 and is only available in two colors: a light shade of gray and black. The Sienna Woodland is still not a true 4x4, like some SUVs, but it should be able to handle unpaved roads or snow with ease.

An added bonus? All Siennas are now hybrids as of last year's redesign, so its combined EPA estimated fuel economy of 35 mpg could be much more welcome now than it was a year ago given today's record gas prices.



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