The Honda Odyssey and Kia Carnival are two of the leading minivan models in the industry. Both vehicles offer sleek designs with high-tech features that can benefit most families. The Odyssey is a solid and dependable model year after year, while the Kia has a reputation as the SUV of minivans because of its styling and powertrain.

In the Honda Odyssey vs. Kia Carnival debate, you can’t really go wrong when buying used or new. Both vehicles have unique strengths and weaknesses but are ultimately comparable. Discover the highlights of each model and which is best for your family.

Honda Odyssey vs. Kia Carnival: Head-to-Head Review

In the world of minivans, you have four manufacturers to choose from: Honda, Kia, Toyota, and Chrysler. Among these options, Honda and Kia are the top choices for most families because of dependability, features, and safety.

Typically considered the gold standard of minivans, the Odyssey has a long history of outperforming other minivan manufacturers, even chasing some out of the sector. Still, the Carnival is no amateur competitor.

Both models emerged in the mid-’90s — the Honda Odyssey in 1995 and the Kia Sedona in 1998. The Carnival initially launched under the name “Sedona” in the United States. Today, Kia has phased out the Sedona name and rebranded with Carnival.

Both vehicles are excellent and quite comparable in many of their features. The best option for your family depends on your specific needs and wants.

Design and Style

If you judge a vehicle first on appearance, the Carnival may win the Honda Odyssey vs. Kia Carnival debate. The Carnival is more angular and sporty-looking than the Odyssey. While it still looks like a minivan, it has the edge of an SUV. Kia tries to enhance the description by referring to its minivan as a “multi-purpose vehicle” and suggesting it compares to three-row crossover models, but that’s a stretch. The Carnival’s dimensions, ride height, and three rows of seating are all staples of minivans.

Looking at the Kia Carnival vs. Honda Odyssey, though, you can see a stark contrast in the design. The Honda Odyssey, while sleek and modern-looking, has the design of a classic minivan: dependable and not trying to be anything else. The Carnival gets the win on appearance.

Performance and Handling

Honda Odyssey

The performance and handling of the Honda and Kia are similar. Both models have a 6-cylinder, 3.5-liter engine. The Carnival has more power, with 290 hp at 6,400 rpm, compared to the Odyssey’s 280 hp and 6,000 rpm. Still, the torque for each vehicle is about equal at 262 lb-ft at 5,000 rpm for the Carnival and 262 lb-ft at 4,700 rpm for the Odyssey.

The Honda Odyssey vs. Kia Carnival debate is also a near wash for the transmission and fuel economy. The Carnival has an 8-speed automatic transmission compared to the Odyssey’s 10-speed. The Honda ekes out a two-mile advantage for fuel economy with 28 mpg on the highway, but for the city and combined measurements, both vehicles rate 19 mpg in the city and 22 mpg combined.

Interior Comfort and Convenience

Both vehicles can seat up to eight passengers, providing plenty of leg and headroom in all three rows. As with any third row, passengers have less space, but the Honda and Kia provide as much as possible. The third row in the Kia has 35.6 inches for legroom, and the Honda has 38.1 inches. The headroom in each model is similar, a little over 38 inches. Both vehicles offer approximately 41 inches of legroom in the second and front rows, and the headroom ranges from 39 to 41 inches in each model.

The Kia Carnival provides a little more cargo volume than the Honda Odyssey. Carnival minivans have 40.2 cubic feet of storage volume with the seats up and 145.1 cubic feet with the seats down at maximum capacity. Odyssey minivans have 32.8 cubic feet with the seats up and 144.9 cubic feet when down. Depending on how much traveling or shopping your family does, every inch might count, in which case you should select the Carnival.

Technology and Safety

Kia Carnival

Honda Odyssey vs. Kia Carnival technology and safety features are impressive. Every Odyssey model and the base Carnival LX comes standard with an 8-inch touchscreen display. Other Carnival models come with a 12.3-inch display. All Carnival models offer wireless connection to the infotainment system via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto; Odyssey models require a wired connection.

The Odyssey offers a rear-seat entertainment system through a central dropdown display, while the Carnival has two monitors mounted on the backs of the front seats. You can also get a subscription-based Wi-Fi hotspot standard on every Carnival model, but it is only available on the top two trim levels of the Odyssey.

Both vehicles also have in-cabin intercom systems and interior cameras for views of the rear seats. Unfortunately, the Honda Odyssey only offers these options on its top-tier trims.

Each model also includes standard driver-assistance technology, including automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-keeping assistance. While the Odyssey offers standard adaptive cruise control, you cannot get a 360-degree, surround-view camera.

Price and Value

The Kia Carnival is a little more affordable, with the base model starting at $33,200 versus the Odyssey’s $37,840. Also, the Carnival’s basic warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles, while the Odyssey’s covers three years or 36,000 miles. Each vehicle comes with a powertrain warranty — the Kia provides a 10-year or 100,000-mile warranty, and the Odyssey provides a 5-year or 60,000-mile warranty.

The 2024 Odyssey has a 5-star safety rating from NHTSA. The 2024 Kia doesn’t have a rating yet; however, the 2023 Kia Carnival carries a 5-star rating.

Honda Odyssey vs. Kia Carnival: The Verdict

In the Honda Odyssey vs. Kia Carnival debate, each vehicle offers tremendous value. The Carnival has more standard features, and its base model comes in at a lower price point with a better standard warranty. Still, your family can benefit from either vehicle. Whichever you choose, to protect your minivan after the manufacturer’s warranty expires, purchase a vehicle protection plan from autopom!

By Mike Jones, President & CEO of autopom! Insurance Services, llc