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A Detailed Comparison Between Honda Odyssey And Kia Carnival Minivans

Image Source: Teddy Leung / Shutterstock

Minivans haven’t entirely given in to SUVs, and the latest family vehicles offer almost all the benefits of a utility vehicle—with easier access and improved comfort.

Moreover, they provide a more luxurious touch. The 2024 Honda Odyssey and the 2024 Kia Carnival present a long list of features for both drivers and passengers, alongside their eight-seat cabins and impressive safety ratings.

(For the 2025 model year, the Carnival introduces a hybrid model, whereas the Odyssey hasn’t made a similar move yet. Once we’ve had a chance to test drive the new gas-electric Kia, we will update this comparison.)

Both minivans have a lot to offer families. However, one surpasses the other on the TCC Rating scale. Interestingly, it’s not the one manufactured in North America. Which minivan rules the sliding-side-door roster for us? Let’s break it down.

Comparison of Prices, Features, and Trims between Kia Carnival and Honda Odyssey

Honda offers more trim options but at a higher price point.

The Carnival LX excels in terms of value.

Our recommendations: Kia Carnival LX, Honda Odyssey EX.

While both the Carnival and Odyssey have crossed the $30,000 mark, the Kia stands out with remarkable value. Starting below $35,000, the Carnival includes power sliding side doors, a seven-seat layout, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Adding another seat for the second row costs $2,000, which also introduces synthetic leather upholstery and heated front seats.

Which Kia Carnival model should you choose?

We suggest going for the Carnival EX. Priced around $40,000, it boasts a larger 12.3-inch touchscreen that requires a cable connection for CarPlay and Android Auto. Additionally, it features wireless smartphone charging, a power tailgate, 19-inch wheels, and a power driver’s seat. For less than $50,000, the fully loaded Carnival SX Prestige includes leather upholstery, a 12-speaker Bose sound system, a digital gauge cluster, blind-spot cameras, and a surround-view camera system.

Which Honda Odyssey model should you consider?

Honda no longer offers a budget-friendly Odyssey LX; therefore, the least expensive option now is the EX, priced at approximately $40,000. This variant is equipped with power side doors, heated front seats, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and remote start.

Our choice would be the Odyssey Sport, which, for around $43,000, comes with leather upholstery, a power tailgate, a power driver’s seat, and 19-inch wheels. Spending over $50,000 on the Odyssey Elite will grant you a heated steering wheel, heated and cooled front seats, parking sensors, a rear-seat entertainment system with a third-row camera, and wireless smartphone charging.

Advantage: The Carnival offers a great deal.

Safety Comparison between Carnival and Odyssey

Both vehicles come with standard automatic emergency braking.

Surround-view camera systems can be included in either of them.

They both achieve top ratings in crash tests.

Although both the Carnival and the Odyssey have standard automatic emergency braking, the Carnival also features standard blind-spot monitors and active lane control. Moreover, there are options for a surround-view camera system and blind-spot cameras.

How safe is the Kia Carnival?

While there are no crash-test results available from the NHTSA, the Carnival attains a Top Safety Pick accolade from the IIHS if equipped with the SX Prestige’s LED projector headlights. Other variants receive “Poor” ratings for their headlights but maintain strong crash-test results.

Every Carnival includes low-speed automatic emergency braking, active lane control, blind-spot monitors, reverse parking sensors, and a driver-attention monitor. Premium versions offer adaptive cruise control, high-speed automatic emergency braking, a surround-view camera system, front parking sensors, and blind-spot cameras.

How safe is the Honda Odyssey?

The Odyssey secures a five-star rating from the NHTSA, alongside its IIHS award with a Top Safety Pick+ designation—all thanks to improved headlights across the range.

All models are equipped with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, active lane control, automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, and a rear seat reminder. The Touring and Elite trims also get the Cabin Watch camera for monitoring third-row passengers.

2023 Honda Odyssey Sport

Interior and Cargo Space Comparison between Honda Odyssey and Kia Carnival

Both minivans lack fold-flat second-row seating.

Which is better: walk-through or slide-up?

Both offer ample interior space with a capacity of up to eight seats.

The hallmark of a minivan is its versatility, and both the Kia Carnival and Honda Odyssey indeed offer flexibility and adaptability. They can accommodate up to eight passengers, albeit with some specifics.

The pinnacle of flexibility in this category is undoubtedly the Chrysler Pacifica, featuring fold-away second- and third-row seats in non-hybrid models.

How comfortable is the Kia Carnival?

Although the Carnival lacks this feature, it excels in other areas of comfort and convenience. Its spacious interior and user-friendly features still make it an attractive choice.

Ensuring a superior level of coziness for all its cargo. The front seats offer ample support and customization options, particularly if you select middle or higher-tier trims. Storage options are plentiful, found in the door compartments and center console.

Many Carnivals are equipped with a second-row bench seat featuring a sliding middle seat that can either fold down to function as a console or remain upright to accommodate eight passengers. While these seats can be taken out, they do not fold into the floor. The SX Prestige model boasts dual airline-style seats with footrests, which may sound lavish, but taller individuals (over approximately 5 feet tall) may find the footrests impractical. The fold-away third row provides ample space for larger passengers; however, accessing this area can be challenging due to the Carnival’s second-row setup.

When the third-row and second-row seats are stowed away, the cargo space reaches 145.1 cubic feet, whereas with all seats in use, it amounts to 40.2 cubic feet. This capacity proves sufficient for trips to the hardware store or extended journeys with multiple suitcases.

How comfortable is the Honda Odyssey? The Odyssey lacks the Pacifica’s unique feature but offers a more practical solution.

In the front, the Honda minivan boasts remarkably supportive bucket seats with power adjustments for the driver, covered in either cloth or leather, along with ample small-item storage options. Moving on, Honda maximizes space utilization in the Odyssey by incorporating bins in the doors, consoles, side panels, seat backs, and even underneath the floor.

The second row is where things get interesting with the Odyssey. You can choose between various configurations, with the bench seat having a removable middle section that enables the outer seats to slide sideways and latch into a narrower setup for improved access to the third row. While clever and distinctive, this design may not be as practical as it initially seems.

The Odyssey’s third-row seat conveniently folds flat into the floor, and accessing that area is made easier as the middle seats slide farther out of the way. The Odyssey offers approximately 33 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row and 144.9 cubic feet behind the front seats. Honda’s attention to detail in fit and finish surpasses the Carnival, with the latter being more prone to scratches, especially in the hands of less careful users.

Advantage: Odyssey.

Kia Carnival vs. Honda Odyssey powertrains and performance

If you seek an engaging driving experience, opt for the Honda Odyssey, which handles like a smaller, more spirited vehicle, thanks to its V-6 engine. While the Carnival delivers decent performance, it fails to leave a lasting impression compared to the Odyssey.

Curious about the speed of the Kia Carnival? The Carnival exhibits average performance levels, featuring a 290-hp V-6 engine paired with a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission. While highway passing maneuvers are seamless, the acceleration may not astonish unsuspecting drivers.

Wondering if the Kia Carnival offers all-wheel drive (AWD)? Unlike the Pacifica or the Toyota Sienna, the Carnival does not have AWD capabilities. Instead, it relies on a road-absorbing ride that combines front struts and a multi-link rear suspension to ensure a smooth drive. The steering on the Carnival is quite numb, emphasizing its practical and unassuming nature on varied road surfaces.

How fast can the Honda Odyssey go? Though less potent than the Carnival, the Odyssey exudes a more engaging driving experience. Benefiting from a 280-hp V-6 engine and a responsive 10-speed automatic transmission, the Odyssey effortlessly navigates traffic and offers quick off-the-line acceleration. However, the transmission can sometimes be overly active in selecting the right gears.

Concerned about 4WD in the Honda Odyssey? The Odyssey does not offer 4WD capability. If you reside in snowy regions, remember that with a reliable set of snow tires and front-wheel drive, you can achieve commendable performance without the need for 4WD.

Just like the Carnival, the Odyssey employs front struts and a multi-link rear suspension to prioritize ride comfort over handling. However, Honda has managed to extract more feedback from its setup compared to Kia. The Odyssey’s steering provides satisfactory tracking on highways, although it feels light and lacks substantial centering weight. The suspension on the Odyssey strikes a balance, mitigating bumps while inducing a noticeable lean during cornering without letting road imperfections disrupt the ride quality for an extended period.

Advantage: The Odyssey.

Odyssey vs. Carnival gas mileage

The Odyssey delivers 22 mpg combined.

The Carnival also achieves 22 mpg combined.

Neither model offers a hybrid variant.

Considering the fuel efficiency of the Kia Carnival? The Carnival provides acceptable fuel economy, rated at 19 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway, and 22 mpg combined. While these figures align with other non-hybrid minivans, they fall short of Kia’s own Telluride SUV, which boasts up to 23 mpg combined.

Interested in the Honda Odyssey’s fuel efficiency? The Odyssey matches up well against the Carnival in this regard. Despite having more transmission gears, the Odyssey does not leverage them for superior fuel economy. It is EPA-rated at 19 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway, and 22 mpg combined. While it may offer slightly better highway efficiency, actual mileage results can vary.

Advantage: The Odyssey, by a slim margin.

Honda Odyssey vs. Kia Carnival warranty

The Carnival impresses with a robust 5-year/60,000-mile warranty, extending to a remarkable 10-year/100,000-mile coverage for the drivetrain. In contrast, Honda provides a basic 3-year/36,000-mile warranty for its minivan, but includes 2 years/24,000 miles of complimentary maintenance services.

Advantage: The Carnival, though the inclusion of free service introduces an element of ambiguity.

Honda Odyssey vs. Kia Carnival: The superior minivan choice?

The Honda Odyssey garners high marks for safety and utility, but lags behind in fuel economy and flexibility when compared to other minivans. It achieves a commendable TCC Rating of 6.3 out of 10. On the other hand, the Carnival outshines the Odyssey in terms of features and value while exuding a more stylish demeanor, according to our judgment. The Carnival secures a TCC Rating of 7.0 out of 10. Ultimately, while we prefer driving the Odyssey, living with the Carnival seems more appealing.

Image Source: Teddy Leung / Shutterstock

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