Joel Helmes road tests and reviews the Kia Carnival.
How far have people movers come in the past decade? Sure, I kind of liked the previous generation Kia Carnival, the new one though is a whole lot better again.
Prices for Kia’s 2015 eight-seat carnival start from $41,490 and range right up to the top of the range Carnival Platinum with a diesel engine, a combo that will cost you from $60,790. That flagship model is exactly what Kia arranged for me to spend the week in.
At first sight the new 2015 Kia Carnival looks a lot more aggressive and rugged than the model before it and when slipping in behind the wheel it has a strange feeling between a sort of chunky sedan and a van.
Interior space is very good, especially leg room all round, and with three seats across in the third row hauling around a full load of people is an easy assignment. This is also where the added width, especially in the rear three-quarters of a people mover, has an advantage over seven-seat SUVs.
With a higher roof and lower floor than most SUV offerings and a clever folding middle seat design, access to the third row of seats couldn’t be easier.
I utilised the extra space to put a sizable load in the rear during a weekend trip to Ikea, I can report the seats folded out of the way with ease (third row into the floor and middle row forward).
On the road the diesel engine provides enough acceleration to keep up with traffic, the 440Nm though is where the engine best shines and so tackling hills or driving with a full load of passengers (or flat-pack furniture boxes) is done, again, with ease.
Yes, the engine is a touch noisier than I would have expected, and yes fuel economy (I averaged 10.3L/100km in a week of city driving) was a little more than I had hoped, still, I would pay the extra and go for the diesel over the V6 version (reviewed here).
I have to say though that the Kia Carnival probably doesn’t ride as nicely as I had hoped. The reason for this, I believe, is the 55 Series tyres found on the 19” alloy wheels that are fitted to the Platinum grade model.
I reckon things would be a lot softer and nicer on the S and Si grades 17” wheels and 65 Series tyres!
That’s a shame as the Platinum really should be the most comfortable offering (you would think). The Kia Carnival handles pretty well for a people-mover and there really isn’t any wind noise in the cabin.
Visibility from the driver’s seat is generally very good, though the ‘A’ pillar on the passenger side can block ¾ visibility. Disappointingly, the Kia Carnival comes with only tilt steering adjustment.
A simple dashboard and console, plenty of standard features and generally very good fit and feel throughout round out what is generally quite a likeable model.
It does however offer all the flexibility and adaptability of a nicely-sized people-mover with enjoyable enough driving characteristics.
NUTS and BOLTS – 2015 Kia Carnival Platinum
Engine: 3.3 litre V6 petrol producing 206kW and 336Nm or 2.2 litre turbo-diesel producing 147kW and 400Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic (only)
Safety: Four stars
Warranty: Seven years
Origin: South Korea
Price: From $58,290 (Platinum)