Kia Carnival Camper: 9 Innovative Ideas for Van Life Inspiration

43 shares When it comes to MPVs, the Kia Carnival is one of the best around – and it doesn’t even look like one! The…

Kia Carnival Conversion Kit by Vanpackers

When it comes to MPVs, the Kia Carnival is one of the best around – and it doesn’t even look like one! The exterior resembles a modern SUV, not one of those old school minivans you get “for the entire family.” With two roof windows, built-in sunshade, and seven comfy seats, a Kia Carnival can be turned into a fantastic mini RV.

It features lots of interior room, offering versatile seating and sleeping arrangements – you can easily fit a 79in by x 47in bed in the back. The middle seats are uncomplicated to remove, which helps a lot if you’re planning to take the DIY route or to install your own conversion kit without too much hassle. The storage room is also generous, so you can likely add luxurious bits of kit like a cooler, heating and a portable toilet.

If you get one of the latest models, a Kia smart key will allow you to start the engine remotely, which can be pretty handy in the winter. The instrument cluster is also pretty impressive – it displays a compass and you can adjust its brightness. The introductory price for the 2023 model is $33,100.

While the Kia Carnival doesn’t have a 4×4 version, it’s nimble and easy to drive. You can easily sneak in and out of towns and reach remote locations with narrower roads. You might need to stay in campgrounds every now and then, but you will be able to boondock much of the time.

In this article, we look at custom builds, conversion kits and DIY rigs for the Kia Carnival. Whatever your budget, you will be able to turn your MPV into a camper.

Kia Carnival Custom Campers

Looking for that perfect professional finish? If you don’t mind spending more, choose a custom conversion. There’s always a waiting list, but you get to plan the interior of your build in detail assisted by a team of professionals. You won’t need to lift a finger, but you will have to take the MPV to the company’s workshop and leave it there for a few weeks.

Here are the companies which carry out full custom conversions on the Kia Carnival.

Unicamp

Kia Carnival camper conversion with a poptop tent parked outdoors
Photo Courtesy: @unicamp.usa and @calechecustoms

Price: From$4,000
Model compatibility: Kia Carnival 2022+
Features: Pop top tent, kitchen box, fold out bed, cold foam mattress.

Unicamp install pop tops on the Kia Carnival minivans and build modular kitchen and bed kits to fit in the back. They’re based in Henderson, Nevada.

The pop top expands the headroom in the car and creates a generous bedroom. Made out of reinforced thermosetting plastic, it’s durable and wateresitstant. The mosquito net keeps the annoying bugs at bay. The recommended capacity for it is 485lbs. The pop top tent installation costs $16,000 and is FMVSS compliant.

The kit is super compact – it’s a box with a kitchenette inside it, which you can access via the trunk. Above it is a fold out bed which stores above the main module during the day.

The kitchen and bed kit comes with lots of extra accessories, such as cold foam mattress, a storage box, stainless steel bowls, fitted bed sheets, two 10L canisters with an outlet tap, a two-burner gas stove and wind protection. The whole module weighs roughly 110lbs and costs $4,000.

Interested?

Oasis Campervans

Oasis Campervan for Kia Carnival conversion garage at Denver, Colorado
Photo Courtesy: @oasiscampervans

Price: From$8,100
Model compatibility: Kia Carnival
Features: Dinette which turns into a bed, rear kitchen with drawers, fold-up kitchen countertop.

Oasis Campervans are based in Denver, Colorado, and convert minivans into small RVs. For the Kia Carnival, you can choose between their classic (sleeps two people), nomad (sleeps one person) and custom conversion.

The classic and nomad conversions feature a static trunk kitchen with drawers and a fold-up countertop. The classic has a double bed, while the nomad has a single. With the nomad conversion, you can leave the bed set up during the day and use it as bench. If you go with the classic, you need to fold the benches away before you go to sleep.

Opting for a custom conversion means you will design your Kia Carnival from scratch. The team at Oasis Campervans will help you with the planning, as they have lots of experience with MPV campers. They know what works on the road and what doesn’t.

You can read more about the specs of this build on the Oasis Campervans website. The guys are usually very busy, so you will probably need to wait for a number of months to get a conversion done. Don’t wait until the last minute.

Kia Carnival Conversion Kits

If you don’t want to spend a long time designing and building your own rig, opt for a camper kit. You can order them online and install them yourself. Many take just a screwdriver and a few minutes to fit in your car. They’re also fully removable, which is great if you want to use your Carnival as a car during the week.

Here are our favorite Kia Carnival conversion kits.

Roadloft

Kia Carnival conversion by Roadloft
Photo Courtesy: Roadloft

Price: $4,790 CAD
Model compatibility: Kia Carnival 2022+
Features: Dinette which turns into a bed, slide-out kitchen at the rear, pull-out drawers on the sides, sectional mattress.

The Roadloft kit really makes the most out of the available space in the Kia Carnival. In the back, it features a dinette, which becomes a bed. When you open the trunk, you can pull out two 42L drawers which act as a kitchen. There are an integrated cutting board and a retractable sink on the right hand side. There’s also room for a 40L cooler.

When you move the passenger seat forward, you can fit a portable toilet in front of the bed. This is handy for nighttime emergencies.

This camper is made out of sustainably-managed wood, coated with an ecological varnish. It weighs approximately 123lbs.

You can install the kit in less than five minutes with a flat screwdriver. While the company is based in Canada, they can ship to the US. Allow a few more days for the order to be processed if you order from the States.

To get $100 off your Roadloft order, use the coupon code TWH100.

Vanpackers

Kia Carnival camper conversion showing its interior by Vanpackers
Photo Courtesy: Vanpackers

Price: $3,695 CAD
Model compatibility: Kia Carnival 2021+
Features: Dinette which turns into a bed, slide-out kitchen at the rear, removable table for outdoor dining, removable storage box, 20L water tank, two-burner propane stove, built-in sink, 3″ mattress.

This modular kit by Vanpackers can be configured to be a single bed, a double bed, or a living room. The kitchen, as always, is at the back. It consists of a slide-out desk and two drawers.

Whatever mode the camper is in, you will have full rear view. This is great for those times you need to manoeuvre around a camping spot or get out of a busy parking lot.

The standard kit has a dedicated space for a 5lbs propane cylinder. As an option, you can request a kit modified to fit a portable toilet under the bed.

The Vanpackers kit weighs about 220lbs and is made of multi-ply birch wood coated with marine varnish.

Compass Camper Universal Aluminium Car Camper

Aluminum bed frame for Kia Carnival conversion
Photo Courtesy: Simple Ways

Price: $779
Model compatibility: Kia Carnival
Features: Platform bed with storage underneath.

If you’re short on cash, choose a universal bed platform like this one by Compass Camper. It’s a rectangular raised platform, which offers some storage underneath. If you don’t need to carry much gear with you and you value headroom more than storage, this kit is perfect. It suits minimalist van lifers and weekend warriors alike. When you remove it, you can take it apart to make it super easy to store in the winter.

Camp N Car Trunk Bunk

Kia Carnival trunk bunk bed platform
Photo Courtesy: Simpler Ways

Price: $795
Model compatibility: Kia Carnival 2022+
Features: Raised sliding platform bed.

The Trunk Bunk is a modular sleeping platform which acts as a bench and slides out when you need a double bed. It’s made out of plywood and is raised to provide storage under the bed. Simple and effective.

You can complete your camper van with this Camp N Car van shelf– a furniture unit with four storage areas.

Kia Carnival DIY Campers

Finally, if you enjoy some good old DIY, you can build your own mini RV. It can take a lot of time to get your hands on finished custom builds and conversion kits, as most companies only manufacture on demand. If you can’t wait weeks or months to get on the road, go for a DIY rig.

While it might never look as good as a professional build or a kit, you will be able to build everything to the dimensions you prefer and choose every little bit of gear you install on board.

Here are some DIY builds to get inspired.

Tiny Campers’ Mini Camper

This DIY build is unique and it’s probably as luxurious as it gets. The kitchen isn’t at the rear of the vehicle – it’s located right behind the front seats. It has a refrigerator, a cabinet with a microwave, storage space, an in-built sink and a counter space. On the left hand side of the kitchen there’s a fold-down table which you can use while sitting outside, which is pretty handy for outdoor dining.

At the back of the car, there’s a couch which turns into a bed. This set up is ideal for foodies who love cooking and won’t compromise on the size of their camping kitchen.

Get Moving’s 2023 Kia Carnival build

Get Moving chose to build a simple platform bed with storage underneath out of plywood for his 2023 Kia Carnival. It’s a very simple camper featuring slats and some flip-up modules. The platform is fixed, so you can’t eat inside the vehicle during the day. It’s a fair weather set up.

Gary’s Kia Grand Carnival DIY Conversion

Gary built a platform bed which slides from the front of the car to the back, rather than from one side to the other. This allows him to create a lot of room in the back of the small van during the day. When the bed is fully out, there’s still space in the trunk to store his cooler and clothes.

This conversion is very clever because it allows you to sit in the back of the car when the bed is in bench mode.

Ready to turn your Kia Carnival minivan into a camper van?

With so many options to choose from, you’ll be able to create the perfect minivan RV to suit your needs. This MPV is nimble and versatile and offers little more headroom than many SUVs.

Don’t forget you can add a roof tent to create an extra bedroom. These cost considerably less than a pop top installation.

Need more inspiration? Check out these Kia Sedona conversions – the Sedona is very similar to the Carnival in many ways.

If the Kia Carnival isn’t quite big enough for you, check these 20 small campers out. And if you’re ready to go bigger, take a look at the 13 best vans to live in. You have plenty of choice when it comes to vans: Mercedes Sprinter, Ford Transit, Ram ProMaster, Nissan NV200 and much more.

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