Kia's all-new people mover on test: Carnival atmosphere
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Kia Carnival Premium
- Seats eight, plus a big boot
- Family friendly tech
- Low body for easy ingress/egress
- MPV styling might not appeal
- Wheelspin on call
- Ceramic Grey only on Premium
Multi-Purpose Vehicles, MPVs or people movers. The only easier way to glaze over a car-fan’s eyes is to talk about the benefits of electric cars at a V8 Supercar gathering.
Why would you MPV, though, over an SUV? It’s really down to one major reason and a lot of minor ones. The option of eight seats ups the ante over SUVs, and a supporting cast of features like sliding doors for easy use, lower floors for easier ingress/egress and child seat fitting, better features and space designed for, well, more of everything, it’s a case of function over form.
Except the Kia Carnival looks pretty good too, in its latest iteration.
The Ceramic Silver and black wheels only available on our top-spec $74,990 Premium test vehicle certainly grabs your attention – and plenty of other stuff keeps it.
Five other colour options are however offered for the EX ($59,990) and Deluxe ($69,990), though there’s so much across the range that suits and appeals. All models, for example, have the proximity key with remote starting to get the cabin toasty for the kids on cold winter sports mornings. The remote sliding doors and tailgate handle the access points nicely.
Up front, it’s very much SUV-like, from the seating position to the power underfoot. There’s all the usual tech additions like radar cruise control with standstill restart, Apple/Android, heated/cooled seats (in the Premium), and a great Bose infotainment system that offers up some very handy features.
There’s a quiet mode that plays sound through only the front speakers and limits the volume for sleeping kids. There’s also an array of ‘white noise’ sound effects. Trinkets, possibly, but most practical is the Passenger Talk system that picks up the driver’s voice (commands/instructions) and plays them through the rear speakers.
Equally impressive is the 2.2-litre 148kW turbo diesel engine, straight from the Sorento. Through just the front wheels, there’s plenty of muscle, 440Nm, to light up the front tyres and dart for gaps to get to school pick-up on time, and it’s reasonably thrifty at the same time: we saw 7.5l/100km in our week of mixed motorway and suburbs. Kia claims 6.5l/100km, but the real bonus is the large 72-litre tank which offers a theoretically useable range of over 1000km, still with enough in reserve to avoid panicking. Fuel fill may sting a bit more, but at least they’ll be less frequent and won’t waste valuable transporting, shopping or stress-relief time.
Of course, the rear seats are the key to Carnival’s friendly accommodation, with captain’s chairs in row two, and a huge amount of fore-after adjustment. The centre seat is modular, and quickly converts to an armrest/cupholder; the windows roll down (not always a given), and there are heated seats and a storage cubby between the front seats, with climate control above the right side, two USB ports, while access to the third row is via either side ‘s seat flipping forward.
Back in row three, a pair of ISOFIX mounting points allow for booster seats, while two more USB ports complete the tech picture, along with sun blinds that cover all rear windows.
Further back still, the benefit of the long 5155mm length is a rather huge and deep boot, perfect for strollers and all the typical family gear. Conveniently, stowing that third row for even more load room is a one-handed and quick operation. Up to 2785 litres of storage space means it’s almost big enough to fit a Kia Picanto. Almost.
Outside, there are more secrets of convenience, like the rear tailgate or side doors that open automatically if the keyfob/driver stands nearby for three seconds; and adjustable pre-set tailgate opening height is almost a given.
Even more tech includes wireless smartphone charging, and a suite of safety gear such as rear cross-traffic alerts, an Around View Monitor that offers a bird’s eye view of the car, and even Safe Exit Assist, that detects approaching vehicles and prevents the rear doors from opening until the hazard passes.
It looks modern, is punchy quick, frugal, sits low for easy loading - and loaded to the gills with good gear. There’s little more to love than the Kia Carnival, one of the ultimate family all-rounders.
ENGINE: 2.2-litre turbo diesel four
GEARBOX: 8-speed auto, FWD