I Rode in the Kia Carnival Z06 Prototype

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A woman is shown looking at a Kia Carnival for sale.

Most days, being an automotive journalist means little more than having ample reason to day-drink and stare out the window as I ponder how my life got away from me. But every once in a while, a special opportunity comes along that makes all the long hours of verbal abuse from dealerships and boot-licking at manufacturer press events worth it. One such occasion recently presented itself when I got a chance to ride in a minivan that’s far from any model you’ll find if you head to a dealership looking for a Kia Carnival for sale right now.

It hasn’t been officially announced yet, but I’m here to reveal that Kia has been working in partnership with GM and Chevrolet to develop something entirely new and unexpected: a high-performance minivan. This may seem like the fever dream of an auto engineer who fell asleep while eating a large ham sandwich, but I’m here to assure you that it’s very real. It’s only a prototype right now, but once this beauty hits the road for real, we’re in for a revolution when it comes to the old family vehicle.

All the Power, All the Time

If I say “Z06” to you, then something like the Chevy Corvette Z06 is probably the first thing that comes to mind. It’s exactly that approach to design and engineering that Kia has tapped with the design of its upcoming Carnival Z06 model. The high-performance minivan starts with the same engine you’ll find in the new Corvette Z06, a 5.5L High-Output V8 engine that redlines at 8,600 RPM and delivers 670 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. Having ridden in this thing, believe me when I say that you can feel every last one of those ponies. While it might not match the 2.7-second 0-60 speed of the Corvette, it actually comes damn close.

One of the other journalists I was with forgot to buckle his seat belt. It was a minivan, after all, so no big deal, right? Wrong! The test driver hit the pedal, and the journalist flew out of his chair, hurled backwards through the interior of the prototype Carnival, and shattered three of his ribs and two vertebrae from the impact against the rear of the vehicle. It was hilarious. Sadly, I don’t have any footage of it, or it would already be viral on TikTok.

Concessions Have Been Made

Speaking of the interior, this is one area where Kia’s engineers and designers had to make some interesting decisions. This is a minivan, so you expect plenty of seating, especially compared to other Z06 models like the two-passenger Corvette. To my knowledge, this will be the world’s first four-passenger minivan, as the other seats have been removed to make room for the mid-engine layout needed to propel the Carnival at crazy fast speeds. Think less Toyota Previa and more Renault Espace F1. It looked like there was room enough inside before we got in, but extra seats and passengers would add more weight, so they’ve been removed in the name of speed and power. Why not just get a sports car at that point? Because shut up, that’s why.

When and What to Expect

I asked the Kia representative at this secret test drive when we could expect the Carnival Z06 to become a reality. That was when I got a good look at him. The representative was a man named Howard Tulger, a mute albino and engineering child prodigy out of Luxembourg if I’m not mistaken. He silently responded by first holding up three fingers, then covering his eyes, and finally gesturing toward me as though attempting to meticulously remove the seeds from a fresh lemon while also keeping an eye on a nice ragout simmering away on the stovetop.

If I interpreted his response correctly, then I believe we should see the Carnival Z06 for the 2025 model year, assuming Kia chooses to go forward with a production model of what I saw. This was just a prototype, after all. I think there are plenty of people looking for a minivan while shopping in the expected $110,000 price point that would be happy to have such an option available to them. It’s bound to be a close competitor to the upcoming Honda Odyssey Raptor, a partnership between Honda and Ford. If you’re interested in a six-figure minivan, then keep watching this space, and I’ll update you as I know more.

Editor’s Note: We reached out to Kia for comment, but they were unwilling to take our calls after the last time we tried to fact-check an article from this writer. At this time, we believe the information provided here is accurate based on the author’s track record for major industry scoops and apocalyptic revelations. Until we hear differently, we’ll be ignoring reader complaints and criticisms because shut up, that’s why.

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