Kia's new 'Grand Utility Vehicle' makes its virtual debut, but a full rundown of its features is still to come.
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The first official images of the new 2021 Kia Carnival have been released today.

Australian timing is still to be announced, but with a Korean-market launch due in the third quarter of 2020, a local debut could occur towards the end of the year or early in 2021.

Kia has dubbed the new Carnival a 'Grand Utility Vehicle' (this writer may now refer to it as 'the guv'), likely as a nod to its more premium styling and commanding shape.

In its new fourth-generation form, the Kia Carnival evolves even further towards the wagon shape that its predecessor debuted, emphasised by an even longer bonnet and a short front overhang.

Yet another updated take on Kia's familiar 'tiger nose' grille stars up front, now a little less familiar to fans of the Skoda brand. Where bold chrome notches would normally cut into the top and bottom edges, the upper section now features a simple, subtle bonnet overlap.

Flanking the new diamond-mesh grille pattern are slender headlights, set above a stepped LED daytime lighting signature.

The new Carnival's profile is classically muscular wagon with the usual sliding rear doors, while a patterned satin silver fin cuts up into the C-pillar for a little extra flair.

The same slender lighting theme features at the rear, with an uninterrupted red lighting and reflector bar running the width of the back end.

Further details are still to come, including interior imagery, leaving buyers to guess at what technologies and powertrain options will feature in the new Carnival.

As with the new Sorento, the next-gen Carnival is expected to ride on a new platform that will better accommodate a hybrid option.

Reports in recent months have pointed to options that include the Hyundai group's 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and electric motor hybrid system (169kW/350Nm combined), along with its new 207kW/421Nm 2.5-litre turbo petrol engine.

If the Sorento is any indication, though, Australian models will stick with the 206kW/336Nm 3.5-litre petrol V6 engine and the upgraded 149kW/440Nm 2.2-litre diesel.

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Above: the dash of the new Kia Sorento SUV.

When will the 2021 Kia Carnival come to Australia?

Kia's local arm is still to confirm timing for an Australian debut.

The new Carnival will go on sale in Korea in the third quarter of 2020, which will likely lead to an early 2021 debut for Australia.

The Carnival remains a strong seller in Australia, comfortably owning the people-mover segment.

In 2019, VFACTS data showed a total of 6493 registrations for the Carnival, compared to 1684 for the Odyssey. Others, like the Volkswagen Multivan, Hyundai iMax, LDV G10 Wagon and the iconic Toyota Tarago (now succeeded by the Granvia) all sold fewer than 1000 vehicles each for all of 2019.


Below: the current Kia Carnival