KIA GRAND CARNIVAL Si
The value proposition is top-notch given the aged Toyota Tarago starts at $4K more, but diesel adds a steep $4000. The mid-spec Si has 16-inch alloys, velour trim and power/heated exterior mirrors. There are USB and Bluetooth phone and audio link, six-speaker sound with steering wheel controls, aircon with rear vents and separate controls. Resale is rated in the mid-40 per cent range.
The extra cash buys a 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel (143kW/429Nm). At 8.1L/100km it’s almost 3L better on the combined cycle than the petrol V6 version so that 80L tank takes it a lot further. There’s a six-speed auto option.
The Kia is far from fashionable but more than practical — sliding doors on both sides (on both cars here) make unloading easy. At 5.1m long, 2m wide and 1.8m tall it’s no shrinking violet, but there’s ample interior space. The middle row is removable, the third stashes in the floor, so loadspace ranges from good to immense.
The Kia has six airbags, scores four stars and still has lap-only centre belts. The Si has optional rear camera or sensors. There are ABS, stability control, five child restraint anchorage points and space-saver spare, but no rain-sensing wipers or auto headlights.
It’s not as stylish as some SUVs but shifting offspring is a doddle. Despite the age of the model its child seats are anchored to the bottom of the second and third row backrests and seat belt buckles are unobstructed (Honda, are you listening?). Its vintage is apparent in such things as tilt-only steering. When loaded up, its jumpy ride settles down. The diesel asks plenty upfront from the hip pocket but delivers in driveability and frugal fuel use.
VERDICT The Kia wins on safety, comfort and acres of unfettered space.