Kia modifies Carnival to prevent rear-seat detachment uncovered in IIHS test

November 2, 2023

An update to the 2024 Kia Carnival corrected a flaw that caused a second-row seat to break loose during the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s side crash test. However, the modified vehicle still earns a poor rating in the evaluation.

Before the changes, the left second-row captain’s chair broke loose from the floor during an initial test of the vehicle. The seat and the dummy that was buckled in it tipped sideways and backward, winding up on the floor of the third row. Such a detachment would create an obvious danger to a person sitting in that seat in a real crash. The unmoored seat and passenger could also be a hazard to other occupants.

After IIHS informed Kia of the problem, the company strengthened the rails that attach the rear seats to the floor. Carnivals built after August 2023 have the stronger rails. The company also implemented a product improvement campaign to make the same modification to vehicles built earlier free of charge.

Kia has sent a letter to affected owners advising them to contact their local dealer to arrange to have the stronger rails installed at their convenience. Dealerships have also been instructed to install the new rails whenever a customer brings in an affected Carnival for service of any kind.

In a test of a vehicle with the modification, the rear seat did not break loose during the crash. However, the vehicle still earns a poor rating because its safety cage did not hold up well and injury measures indicated a high risk of injuries to the driver’s pelvis and rear passenger’s chest.

IIHS updated its side crash test in 2021 after research showed that many of the real-world side impacts that still account for nearly a quarter of passenger vehicle occupant fatalities are more severe than Institute’s original evaluation.

The updated side crash test uses a heavier barrier traveling at a higher speed to simulate the striking vehicle. The new barrier weighs 4,200 pounds — close to the weight of today’s midsize SUVs — and strikes the test vehicle at 37 mph, compared with a 3,300-pound barrier traveling at 31 mph in the original evaluation.

An acceptable or good rating in the new test is required for a 2023 Top Safety Pick award, while a good rating is needed for Top Safety Pick+.

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