A minivan is not exactly the first vehicle type I would consider for sitting in the backseat for a long drive. For someone like me who tests and reviews vehicles, it’s also not my first choice for sitting in the back while the vehicle is not even moving.
The reason is that I love to drive, for starters — and I’m someone who gravitates to sedans and sporty cars. I do know a minivan offers some big advantages in terms of hauling people and cargo, even if they are meant more for families.
Recently, I watched an entire Netflix movie in the backseat of the Kia Carnival while it was sitting in a parking lot. One reason is that no one else can actually drive the loaner cars I test out for a week, and also because there’s no way I would let anyone drive on a trip anyway. If I am testing a car, I want to be driving it constantly, learning about the new features and experimenting with the settings. Ironically, the best feature on the Kia Carnival happens to be related to the entertainment system and, quite honestly, the second row seats.
Running Netflix is a breeze. Like the Chrysler Pacifica I’ve tested many times, you just have to login on screens, which are attached to the first-row seats.
I will say this. I’ve never used a rear seat as adjustable or comfortable as the one on the Kia Carnival. It reclines almost all the way, which I discovered while watching the movie All Quiet on the Western Front. I even made popcorn. You can adjust the seat in countless ways as you recline and watch a movie, which means I was jealous of one of my adult kids who sat in the second row seat as I drove around going antiquing one day with my wife. “This is the best seat I’ve ever used in any car,” said my son after adjusting every seat option he could find.
The Carnival has exceptionally good sounds in the second row as well, so much so that it felt like a movie theater at times. As I mentioned, I sat in the back in a parking low by my house and watched the movie and I was continually impressed with the loudness, the surround sound, the bass, and the clarity. It’s not quite as pristine as the Cadillac Escalade V-Series I tested recently, but for kids on a roadtrip it is quite impressive nonetheless.
I’ve heard that some makes and models have a hard time with streaming movies because wireless connectivity in a vehicle (which is always movie around) is a little hit or miss. We never had any buffering or delays when we were testing, even when my kids were in the back and watching their own Netflix shows (many of them were ones I’d never watch).
Part of the reason for that is because of where I drove — always on major interstates where cell coverage is likely quite prolific and easy to access as you drive. If you go on road trips in the country, your mileage may vary — at least until car companies start switching over to a sat signal or figure out how to get a better connection in remote areas.
I’m impressed with the Carnival overall. It’s spacious and comfortable, sure on the road, and has great entertainment options. I don’t know if I will plan to watch an entire movie in a parking lot again, but it was a unique experience — and that second row seating is glorious.