The finer family freighters
We have three young schoolage kids and in-laws who soon will not be able to drive. Our Honda CR-V is clapping out so we are looking to upgrade to something with easy access for the elderly in-laws and plenty of room as we travel like the Griswolds! We live in a hilly area so are thinking diesel. Our budget is about $30K. We are leaning to a Kia Carnival but are open to suggestions. Trav A people-mover is the sensible choice but get a diesel only if you’ll do a lot of kilometres. If you’re just pottering around town, you’ll find that most people-movers have petrol engines that can cope with hills. For $30,000 you could probably sneak into a 2014 or 2015 Carnival or a Hyundai IMax of the same vintage. The Honda Odyssey and Toyota Tarago will be a couple of years older but still worth a look.
Kia Carnival Look around, haggle hard and you should be able to squeak into the current Carnival, which launched in February 2015 and was based on an all-new platform. Its 3.3-litre V6 or 2.2-litre diesel will make short work of those hills. Apart from a more comfortable, quieter ride, the big improvement in the new model was the cabin. More sophisticated materials and an abundance of 12-volt and USB outlets will keep the junior Griswolds happy on long trips. The Carnival’s seven-year warranty means a second-hand one will have longer coverage than a lot of new cars. Hyundai iMax The Hyundai isn’t as sophisticated as the Carnival, as it shares underpinnings with the iLoad courier van. It also falls short on safety, with no curtain airbags for rear passengers. The 2.5-litre diesel is fairly noisy by modern standards but is strong and frugal for highway cruising. On the plus side, the interior is cavernous — it is perhaps the only people-mover on the market that can fit eight people and their luggage. A five-year warranty means that you will likely pick up an iMax with three years’ coverage remaining. Honda Odyssey If you’ve enjoyed owning your CR-V, then why not keep it in the family and look at the Odyssey? For $30,000 you should be able to get the latest generation model, launched in February 2014. The previous model was almost an antipeople-mover, with sleek styling and impressive road manners; the current model, though less engaging, is more spacious and practical. The four-cylinder needs to be revved but will be adequate for family freighting. The typically clever Honda cabin has quality finishes. Resale will be good but there will be no factory warranty.
Nissan Pathfinder If you’re not into peoplemovers, the big Nissan SUV might be worth a look. It can’t match the purpose-built people carriers for practicality, size and ease of entry but it does the best job of the current crop of fullsized SUVs and has a strong V6. The second row has plenty of width for fitting baby seats and its clever folding mechanism enables surprisingly good access to the third row.
If size, comfort and practicality are important to you, this is something of a no-contest. With its supersized cabin, strong safety credentials and industry-leading warranty, the Carnival is the clear pick.