Space-age small bus
Kia’s smooth-riding Carnival isn’t sleek but it’s cornered the market
We tested the third-level SLI priced from $50,190 for the diesel ($4000 more than the 2.5-litre V6 petrol). At this spec level you get all the stuff you’d expect in a reasonably kitted car, plus powered sliding doors, reversing camera, heated exterior mirrors, cruise control, Bluetooth, six-speaker audio with Cd-stack and music player jacks, powered pop-out windows for the third row, front and rear airconditioning, leather upholstery, roof rails and 17-inch alloys.
Hyundai’s imax is close to $8000 cheaper, but with more thirst and less power and torque, and misses out on extras like the reversing camera and leather.
If you’re worried about the stigma of people-movers, get Honda’s Odyssey at about $4000 cheaper, and pass it off as a car. It looks and feels like one, but unfortunately when you load it up you’ll find it has the small torque of one, too.
Another way to avoid the stigma is with the Dodge Journey R/T, also about $4000 less, which looks brutish enough that nobody will dare say anything. But it doesn’t have the muscle to back it up, and the interior quality is a weak point.
Like the Honda, there’s a lack of torque with the Toyota Tarago, and it’s joined by an outdated auto. But while it costs $2300 more than Kia, the Korean matches its only high point: four-star safety.
The Chrysler Grand Voyager CRD LX is about $7000 more, and though it’s fairly well kitted-out, it’s nowhere near as loaded as you’d expect for that price. And despite having a larger engine, it doesn’t deliver the goods. You won’t have to worry about any ‘‘ breeder bus’’ slurs if you buy the Mercedes-benz Viano. You can shrug them off with the knowledge that you’ve splashed the maximum cash at this level, $26,000 more than the Kia. But for that you get five-star safety, effortless torque and a luxury fit-out. And the three-point badge, for some, will be worth the price.
The new 2.2-litre turbo diesel and six-speed automatic transmission are borrowed from Kia’s Sorento SUV. It’s 700cc smaller than the engine it replaces but it’s bigger where it counts, punching out 143kw of power (up 7kw), but more importantly a hefty 96Nm of extra torque at 429Nm. That’s enough to pull a junior footy scrum over the line.
It might also leave enough in the budget for a post-game hamburger stop, with the fuel economy improving from 8.5L/100km to 8.1L/100km. Then, if the little know-it-alls start quizzing you about what you’re doing to save the planet, you can tell them CO emissions are down from 224g/km to 213g/km. And to shut up and eat their burgers.
There’s design for style and there’s design for function. Custom has it that the most functional way to carry things is a box, and that’s the Grand Carnival in a word. It’s not