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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
We just ordered a 2023 SX. My wife is not convinced it is the car for us though. We live in Boulder Colorado and drive to the mountains 1-2 times per month in the winter. We will put on the best studless snow tires. She is concerned it won’t work well enough for our needs. What are your experiences with the Carnival in the snow?

In particular, how does it do in these 3 conditions:
1. Stop and go traffic up a 7% grade on packed snow (e.g. i70)
2. General handling on snowy highways
3. Ability to drive in 8” of Colorado fluff on a flat driveway?

edit: added specific scenarios
 

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We just ordered a 2023 SX. My wife is not convinced it is the car for us though. We live in Boulder Colorado and drive to the mountains 1-2 times per month in the winter. We will put on the best studless snow tires. She is concerned it won’t work well enough for our needs. What are your experiences with the Carnival in the snow?
What are you driving now that you’re going to replace? FWD + winter tires is a strong combo but not as strong as a AWD van (Pacifica or Sienna) w/ winter tires would be. I live in Kansas City but I’m likely to buy a set of winter tires for my Carnival too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
What are you driving now that you’re going to replace? FWD + winter tires is a strong combo but not as strong as a AWD van (Pacifica or Sienna) w/ winter tires would be. I live in Kansas City but I’m likely to buy a set of winter tires for my Carnival too.
We have only one car which is a 15 year old AWD crossover with winter tires that we will be keeping. It drives great in snow, but is not big enough for 2 kids and all the ski equipment and kid stuff. I’ve never driven a non-AWD car in snow in Colorado.
 

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Multiple test have shown that FWD with snow tires is better than AWD with all seasons. That said, 4WD with a locking diff and studded snow tires is going to be your best bet. Anything in between is a compromise. The Sienna AWD IIRC only has about 30% power max to the rear wheels. I think the Pacifica is a more traditional transfer case for power distribution.

Last time I was in CO during a snow storm, the plows were more of a “meh, it’s only 4-6”, people will be all right and left the roads largely unplowed.” Not sure if it’s changed but if not I’d think pretty hard about having some vehicle with at least AWD and snow tires. There’s a reason why you see a ton of Subie’s running around out there. Out on the north-east coast, in the major cities, once a snow prediction is made the roads get brined and anything with a plow is out scraping the flakes off to the side of the road.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Multiple test have shown that FWD with snow tires is better than AWD with all seasons. That said, 4WD with a locking diff and studded snow tires is going to be your best bet. Anything in between is a compromise. The Sienna AWD IIRC only has about 30% power max to the rear wheels. I think the Pacifica is a more traditional transfer case for power distribution.

Last time I was in CO during a snow storm, the plows were more of a “meh, it’s only 4-6”, people will be all right and left the roads largely unplowed.” Not sure if it’s changed but if not I’d think pretty hard about having some vehicle with at least AWD and snow tires. There’s a reason why you see a ton of Subie’s running around out there. Out on the north-east coast, in the major cities, once a snow prediction is made the roads get brined and anything with a plow is out scraping the flakes off to the side of the road.
The policy in Boulder is they only plow non main roads if there is more than 12”. But on those days, we can use our crossover. I’m mostly worried about handling on snowy highways and stop and go traffic going up a snow packed hill. I added these scenarios to my post. Some cars have better weight distribution and traction control systems than others. Wondering how the Carnival does in these conditions. Thanks
 

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I will say, it’s not great. Currently in New England, lived in Montana for years, am very confident driving in snow…..
We had an Odyssey before the Carnival and it seemed to handle way better in snow- low gear, weight distribution, etc. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what makes it so squirrelly but I feel like it’s low end torque (yes, even in eco) makes it hard to ‘finesse’ while driving at lower speeds. Now, I realize I’m driving a FWD mini van with AS tires, and I’ve tempered my expectations accordingly…… but I ‘almost’ got stuck/went off the road more times with the Carnival last winter then any other previous winter season.
 

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I will say, it’s not great. Currently in New England, lived in Montana for years, am very confident driving in snow…..
We had an Odyssey before the Carnival and it seemed to handle way better in snow- low gear, weight distribution, etc. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what makes it so squirrelly but I feel like it’s low end torque (yes, even in eco) makes it hard to ‘finesse’ while driving at lower speeds. Now, I realize I’m driving a FWD mini van with AS tires, and I’ve tempered my expectations accordingly…… but I ‘almost’ got stuck/went off the road more times with the Carnival last winter then any other previous winter season.
You lived in Montana and now you live in New England and you drive on all season tires?
 

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Not sure what this is supposed to mean, or how it relates to my answer to the OP’s question?
Anyhow…. We have an Outback with Blizzaks but the Carnival still got driven in the winter.
I’m just surprised you didn’t have winter tires on it, living in two different areas with brutal snowfall.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I will say, it’s not great. Currently in New England, lived in Montana for years, am very confident driving in snow…..
We had an Odyssey before the Carnival and it seemed to handle way better in snow- low gear, weight distribution, etc. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what makes it so squirrelly but I feel like it’s low end torque (yes, even in eco) makes it hard to ‘finesse’ while driving at lower speeds. Now, I realize I’m driving a FWD mini van with AS tires, and I’ve tempered my expectations accordingly…… but I ‘almost’ got stuck/went off the road more times with the Carnival last winter then any other previous winter season.
Thanks a lot for the helpful reply. My parents in the northeast have an Odyssey and it drives pretty decently in snow with all season tires so I can relate your comment. What is steering us away from the Odyssey is the low ground clearance (4.5”) which makes changing lanes dangerous.

FWIW, the AWD Pacifica has terrible reliability and the AWD Sienna doesn’t come as an 8 seater. The Odyssey is our runner up pick right now…
 

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@Tailer good question. A couple items of note. One, check the tires that will be on it on Tirerack.com I believe the 2023 Kia Carnival factory tires do not have a great rating in snow. I'll most likely be changing ours out before winter (once we get the van) with some all seasons with a good winter rating.

If I lived in CO, I'd definitely look at dedicated snow tires for that season. Hopefully someone can comment on dedicated snow tires on FWD in a hilly snowy area.
 

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@Tailer good question. A couple items of note. One, check the tires that will be on it on Tirerack.com I believe the 2023 Kia Carnival factory tires do not have a great rating in snow. I'll most likely be changing ours out before winter (once we get the van) with some all seasons with a good winter rating.

If I lived in CO, I'd definitely look at dedicated snow tires for that season. Hopefully someone can comment on dedicated snow tires on FWD in a hilly snowy area.
Remember, Tire Rack ratings are iffy at best. The people giving them aren't doing comparison tests so it's all uneducated/non-expert people comparing tires they drove years apart or even on different cars. For that reason, I don't put hardly any stock in them. There's not going to be THAT much difference between different A/S tires, unless you're talking about some cheapo ones vs. Michelins or another premium brand.
 

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@kckyle thanks for the reply. We are all entitled to our options no doubt. I've found the ratings shown to be pretty accurate. On occasion Tirerack will do independent studies on their own in controlled environments. Those are usually linked on each summary page if they are available. I disagree that there is not much difference in A/S tires and cheap vs. premium. All manufacturers have some variations in the performance of their tire models. Not all cheap tires are bad and not all premium tires are good.

Generally, I think most people that care about their tires would like to have some idea of how a tire performs, rather than no idea at all. Tires are not a cheap investment and performance matters when it comes to family safety.
 

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@kckyle thanks for the reply. We are all entitled to our options no doubt. I've found the ratings shown to be pretty accurate. On occasion Tirerack will do independent studies on their own in controlled environments. Those are usually linked on each summary page if they are available. I disagree that there is not much difference in A/S tires and cheap vs. premium. All manufacturers have some variations in the performance of their tire models. Not all cheap tires are bad and not all premium tires are good.

Generally, I think most people that care about their tires would like to have some idea of how a tire performs, rather than no idea at all. Tires are not a cheap investment and performance matters when it comes to family safety.
Yup. When Tire Rack does the comparison tests, I love those; that’s info you can rely on, just like Consumer Reports too.
The last ten years, I’ve bought exclusively Continental tires. I’ve found them to be consistently great, maybe the best brand short of Michelin, IMO. Not sure if relying on a single brand consistently is a good idea or not but it’s working so far…
 

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From MN here. We went through our first snow season last year in our 22 SXP. I told my wife to drive the car through snow and let me know what she thiinks. The last 3 cars we've had: Smart Car, Prius and CrossTrek al had snow tires. They make a huge difference over al season. I come with 5 years in the tire industry. Snow tires make a difference. I don't care what 4x4 you have or how good it is. Snow tires will ALWAYS be better than AS in the snow/ice. So we had our first snow of the year where the roads were covered at least 2-3". She couldn't get going out of our block as there was an incline. She said..."Get them", meaning the Blizzaks. So that evening, I drove it. She was right. At a stand still with 3-4" of snow, it spun and spun. These GY tires had about 6000 on them. But they] were horrible in the snow. Could you get by? Yes. You can. But I'm not spinning my tires while everyone zooms by with their AWDs. So we got he Blizzaks. They made a huge difference. The incline out of our block is no problem. Turning is no problem. Stopping is no problem. She now has her confidence back in the winter. Do yourself a favor....get snow tires for this long wheel base car.
 

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From MN here. We went through our first snow season last year in our 22 SXP. I told my wife to drive the car through snow and let me know what she thiinks. The last 3 cars we've had: Smart Car, Prius and CrossTrek al had snow tires. They make a huge difference over al season. I come with 5 years in the tire industry. Snow tires make a difference. I don't care what 4x4 you have or how good it is. Snow tires will ALWAYS be better than AS in the snow/ice. So we had our first snow of the year where the roads were covered at least 2-3". She couldn't get going out of our block as there was an incline. She said..."Get them", meaning the Blizzaks. So that evening, I drove it. She was right. At a stand still with 3-4" of snow, it spun and spun. These GY tires had about 6000 on them. But they] were horrible in the snow. Could you get by? Yes. You can. But I'm not spinning my tires while everyone zooms by with their AWDs. So we got he Blizzaks. They made a huge difference. The incline out of our block is no problem. Turning is no problem. Stopping is no problem. She now has her confidence back in the winter. Do yourself a favor....get snow tires for this long wheel base car.
That does it. I was still on the fence but that did it - winters for me.
 

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I might add that while my wife drives the Carnival, I drive our 18 Crosstrek. Now everyone knows the Subarus 4x4. The symmetrical AWD are among the best in the business (not all AWD are the same. With that said, the stock tires on the Crosstrek (Continentals) were not that great in the snow. There were a lot of spinning. If you did a Uturn in the snow, you'd not only spin but fishtail as well before the AWD kicks in and straightens you out. With Blizzaks, the turns are crisp and controlled. That's what you want. I don't care what anyone say, "I have a CrossTrek and it does just fine in stock tires". Just fine? Well with Blizzaks it's more than fine. It's what driving should be in the winter. Confidence. Control. Like I said, once you go to snow tires, you will never go back to A/S. The only reason why you would is to save money (you're about to sell the car). The Carnival is big and heavy. I thought that would be enough for the stock GoodYear. I was wrong. The wheelbase is just too long. With the Blizzaks, I feel better for my wife in snowy/ice conditions...especially ice conditions.
 
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