The Kia Carnival is Kia’s minivan offering, and it entered production in 1998. Now in its fourth generation, it maintains its reputation as one of the most reliable minivans on the market.
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As with every vehicle model, the Kia Carnival has had some very good model years and some not-so-great model years.
In this article, we will be creating an important dichotomy with a list of the best and worst Kia Carnival years models, accompanied by stats, figures, and other vital information. Shall we?
N.B: Please note that the Kia Carnival is more like the new name for models formerly known as the Kia Sedona. The name change started in the U.S. with the 2022 Kia Carnival.
Check out our article on how long Kia Carnivals last here.
The Best And Worst Years For Kia Carnival Are:
The best Kia Carnival years are the 2001, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 models. On the other hand, the worst model years are 2002, 2006, 2012, and 2015 model years.
What Kia Carnival Years Are The Most Reliable?
We have below a stats-backed list of the most reliable model years of the Kia Carnival, formerly known as the Kia Sedona:
1. 2003 Kia Carnival
The 2001 Kia Carnival debuted back in 2002 and it is one of the most reliable Kia Carnival models. It was met with mostly good reviews at the time and sold a good amount while picking up new customers.
On Car Complaints, the 2003 Kia Carnival has a total of nine complaints, which is one of the fewest numbers of complaints. It has a 4.4 out of 5 rating on Edmunds, due to its great crash test scores, good value, and range of incredible features.
Many customers on forums across the net also consider it one of the most reliable minivans to this day.
2. 2004 Kia Carnival
The 2004 Kia Carnival was known as the Kia Sedona in the U.S. at the time of its introduction in 2003. Upon debuting, it was met with mostly great reviews from owners and enjoyed some patronage from customers.
Like its predecessor, it has a 4.4 out of 5 rating on Edmunds thanks to its great value and excellent build quality. The 2004 Kia Carnival also has one of the fewest complaints among Kia Carnival models on Car Complaints, with 14.
This indicates the model’s long-term reliability and ultimately informed its place on this list.
3. 2007 Kia Carnival
The 2007 Kia Carnival was a second-generation model that was then known as the Kia Sedona. Its debut was greeted with much praise and acclaim and was touted as a major improvement to its predecessor.
It enjoys a 4.4 rating on Edmunds and a 4.5 rating on Cars.com and Auto Blog. Some of its best features include cargo space, cabin space, a punchy V6 engine, and a smooth ride.
The ’07 Kia Carnival also has just about 15 complaints on Car Complaints, which is one of the fewest. This evidences why it’s still up for sale on the Used market and considered one of the best in its category.
4. 2008 Kia Carnival
The 2008 Kia Carnival is also a part of the Carnival’s second generation and it wore the Sedona nameplate in the U.S. Upon debuting, the 2008 Kia Carnival was greeted with mostly great reviews, including a 7.4/10 rating by The Car Connection in August 2008.
Some of its most acclaimed features include excellent safety scores, a smooth ride, a potent engine, and a roomy cabin.
It boasts a 4.5 rating on Edmunds and currently has only 16 complaints on Car Complaints, which is one of the fewest.
The Kia Sedona’s reliability has earned it some great market values over the years on the Used market. It is undoubtedly one of the most reliable Kia Carnival models around.
5. 2009 Kia Carnival
The 2009 Kia Carnival was highly anticipated and eventually made its debut late in 2008. It was met with overwhelmingly positive reviews, with critics praising its excellent safety ratings and nimble ride and flexible interior.
It earned a 7.4/10 rating on Car Connection as well as a pretty good 8/10 rating on U.S. News. The model also has a total of 5 complaints so far, which is one of the fewest numbers of complaints, by far.
The 2009 Kia Carnival is undoubtedly one of the most reliable and least faulted Kia Carnival models of all time.
6. 2010 Kia Carnival
Following the critical success of its predecessor, the 2010 Kia Carnival was also the subject of much anticipation. Upon its debut in 2009, it was met with excellent reviews across the board.
It holds a 4.7 out of 5 rating on Cars.com and an 8.9/10 rating on U.S. News, indicating massive critical acclaim. Some of its most acclaimed features include excellent safety scores, impressive visibility, and a spacious cargo hold.
On Car Complaints, the 2010 Kia Carnival has just 3 complaints, which is one of the fewest numbers of complaints by far. These stats can only mean one thing- the 2010 Kia Carnival has a low propensity for faults and is one of the most reliable Kia Carnival model years.
7. 2011 Kia Carnival
The 2011 Kia Carnival is another second-generation model officially known as the “2011 Kia Sedona” in the U.S.
It debuted to widespread critical acclaim thanks to its warranty package, powerful V6 engine, excellent safety scores, and composed ride.
It holds an 8/10 rating on U.S. News and a 4.6/5 rating on Sure Critic. The 2011 Kia Carnival also has 12 complaints on Car Complaints and that number puts it among Carnival models with the fewest complaints.
There aren’t many Kia Carnival models that are more reliable than the 2011 Kia Carnival, which is exactly why it earned a spot on this list.
8. 2014 Kia Carnival
The 2014 Kia Carnival arrived on the scene in 2013 and garnered some level of praise from critics.
Its most acclaimed attributes include improved acceleration, a comfortable/spacious cabin, and sleek power-sliding doors. It, however, caught some flak for its bland styling and poor fuel economy.
On Car Complaints, the 2014 Carnival holds a total of 14 complaints, making it one of the Carnival models with the least complaints on the platform.
In case you are looking to get a used Kia Carnival, the 2014 Kia Sedona wouldn’t be a bad choice. Speaking of, check out our list of Kia models you can lease.
9. 2017 Kia Carnival
The 2017 Kia Carnival debuted in 2016 as part of the model’s third generation. It garnered mostly positive reviews from critics, including a 4.8/5 rating on Cars.com and a 4.3 rating on Kelley Blue Book.
Some of the most acclaimed attributes of the 2017 Carnival include a ritzy cabin, improved styling, and a great towing capacity, among others.
It has also proven to be a very reliable car so far, with only 3 complaints on Car Complaints, which is one of the fewest in the category.
There is no gainsaying the 2017 Kia Carnival is one of the most reliable Kia Carnival model years.
10. 2018 Kia Carnival
The 2018 Kia Carnival debuted in 2017 and was met with a fair amount of praise and laudation from critics and customers. It boasts a great 8/10 rating on U.S. News and a 4.3 out of 5 rating on Kelley Blue Book.
Its most prominent features include its high-end cabin, potent engine, and amazing safety ratings. It has only one complaint so far on Car Complaints, making it one of the least faulted Kia Carnival models on the platform.
These statistics and complaints figures are exactly why the 2018 Carnival couldn’t be left off this list.
What Kia Carnival Years Should You Avoid?
Just as we have reliable Kia Carnival models, there are models you should avoid, no matter what. We have an explicit list of such models below:
11. 2002 Kia Carnival
The 2002 Kia Carnival is one of the first-generation Kia Carnival model years. It debuted to mostly positive reviews from customers and critics. However, its reliability has been called to question over the years.
On Car Complaints, the model polled a total of 22 complaints, which is one of the highest numbers of complaints in the category. Of the 26 complaints, eight of them are about electrical problems and four are about issues with interior accessories.
According to Car Complaints, the worst Kia Sedona problem is alternator breakage with an average mileage of 59,000 miles. It also has a “really awful” severity rating of 10.0 and an average repair cost of $1,070.
At this point, one doesn’t need a soothsayer to stay away from any 2002 Kia Carnival model.
12. 2006 Kia Carnival
The 2006 Kia Carnival was a redesigned model and initially got a lot of praise from critics for its smooth ride and potent engine.
However, the model’s initial goodwill took a big hit when the number of complaints began soaring over the years.
As of now, the 2006 Carnival has the most complaints among Kia Carnival years on Car Complaints, with 31 (a record shared with the 2015 Kia Carnival.
Of the 31 complaints, 6 were about electrical problems and 5 were about engine problems as well as seatbelts/airbag problems.
The model’s worst problem, according to Car Complaints, is the rattling issue during startup. It has an average mileage of 130,000 miles and a “really awful” severity rating of 10.0.
In all, the 2006 Kia Carnival isn’t one that you should aspire to drive, not if you value reliability.
13. 2012 Kia Carnival
In all honesty, the 2012 Kia Sedona (Carnival) garnered mostly positive reviews upon its debut. However, the years following its debut came with several complaints from owners, some of which were severe.
On Car Complaints, the 2012 Carnival has 27 complaints to its name, which is one of the highest for any Kia Carnival model. Of the 27 complaints, 9 of them were about body/paint problems and 3 were about engine issues.
Car Complaints listed “sliding doors freeze” as the 2012 Sedona’s worst problem. It has an average mileage of 32,650 miles and a “really awful” severity rating of 9.3. Not to mention other equally worrying problems, including engine failure and serious body paint issues.
It’s clear that the 2012 Kia Carnival’s reliability is highly questionable, which is why it features on this list.
14. 2015 Kia Carnival
The 2015 Kia Carnival debuted to mostly lackluster ratings from critics and customers. It was knocked for its poor acceleration, bad fuel economy, and some seating defects.
It appears the 2015 Kia Carnival hasn’t fared so well in terms of reliability as well. On Car Complaints, the 2015 Carnival has the joint most complaints in the category with 31 and possibly counting.
Of the 31 complaints, 10 of them were about electrical problems while 7 were about engine problems.
According to Car Complaints, the model’s worst problem is intermittent battery deaths. It has an average mileage of 3,400 miles and a “pretty bad” severity rating of 8.0. Engine failure was also ranked among its worst problems, with an average mileage of 121,000 miles and a “really awful” 10.0 severity rating.
The 2015 Carnival is not a very reliable model and might be the least reliable Kia Carnival model of all time.
What Are Some Typical Problems With Kia Carnival Models?
Below is a list of some common problems with Kia Carnival models:
- Alternator breakage
- Engine light issues
- Intermittent battery deaths
- Unreliable sliding doors
- Weak windshields
- Fuel rail defects
ⓘ The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.