Kia Carnival gets midlife makeover
Living with the latest Kia Carnival finally put paid to the notion that people movers are vans with sparse seating, pokey windows down both sides and access to a take-it-or-leave-it luggage area through an ungainly back door.
The third-generation Kia Carnival has just had a mid-cycle makeover that centres on comfort and safety upgrades.
The model range — Carnival S, Si, SLi and Platinum — stays the same. So do the petrol and turbodiesel engines on offer.
However, the latter are mated with the latest eight-speed automatic transmission. Prices start at $42,490, plus on-road costs for the Carnival S petrol model and top out at $62,790 for the turbo-diesel Platinum. On test was the SLi at $52,490.
The Carnival’s svelte (for a people mover) appearance can be put down to a long wheelbase, at 3060mm, trimmed height of 1755mm with roof rails across the range, swept-back profile and long bonnet.
Styling cues are shared with the Sorento sports utility vehicle, including a revised tiger-nose grille, sleek headlamp clusters and lower air intake with integrated fog lights reinforcing the wide stance of the vehicle.
The latest version of the Carnival has a lower tailgate and the three-quarter panels have been given a light touch to add a stronger look from behind.
The cabin has top-quality materials, premium features and hightech systems put together by the people at Kia’s California styling studio.
The two-tone interior features a high proportion of soft-touch materials, and, in the Carnival SLi, light and grey contrasting leather trim. Front and middle-row passengers enjoy individual seats and overhead consoles as in airliners.
Innovative “stand-up” seats in the second row allow base cushions to fold forward, while the rest of the seat slides forward and rests vertically behind the front seat backs, allowing passengers of larger proportions to settle in the third row.
This back row is able to fold completely flat. The centre seat in the second row can be removed totally or folded flat to offer additional cup-holders for back row occupants.
A storage area under the front armrest is big enough for a laptop and there are two glove boxes.
There is a convex “conversation mirror” in the overhead console, allowing the driver and front-seat passenger to see what’s going on behind them. It’s potentially dangerous if the driver uses it while the car is moving, though.
Three-zone climate control airconditioning allows for separate settings for front passenger and driver, while the second and third rows are serviced by their own system, which can be controlled from the second row.
The Si and SLi grades carry a premium 3.5-inch OLED instrument cluster giving major trip computer info, as well as digital speedo, service intervals and user-selectable options such as headlamp escort function.
All but the entry-level grade feature an 8-inch touch screen with satellite navigation, rear-view camera display with Kia’s SUNA real-time traffic details and 10 years of free MapCare.
The 3.3-litre gasoline direct injected V6 engine of the SLi, mated with an eight-speed automatic transmission, is good for maximum power of 206kW at 6000rpm and 336Nm of torque at a very high 5200rpm.
Autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning and smart cruise control help prevent or minimise crash results.
Occupants have the assurance of six airbags (front to rear), threepoint safety belts on all seats, electronic stability control, ABS braking, traction control, brake assist, cornering brake control and rollover mitigation, and rear parking sensors.
Interior space is generous and there was never a crowded feeling even when loaded up with family, friends and all their gear.
The power tailgate was a boon when loading.
As with all Kia models coming Down Under, the Carnival ride and handling characteristics were finetuned by local engineers to ensure the most suitable for Australian conditions. Improved noise, vibration and harshness came with the third-generation’s introduction and the high level of cabin quietness has been maintained with the mid-cycle makeover.
The Carnival puts power to the front wheels through an eightspeed automatic transmission, and drivers can switch to sequential manual shifting.
Generally, in full automatic mode, downshifts were hardly noticeable, even with the engine under load. The Carnival likes a drink. Our SLi went through more than 12 litres per 100km of petrol on a mix of town and country driving over the test time.
The upgraded version of the third generation Kia Carnival has serious competition from the Toyota Tarago and Honda Odyssey but certainly holds its head high.
As with all Kia passenger vehicles, the seven-year unlimited warranty is an added attraction.
There are added attractions to the midlife Kia Carnival people mover.
The revised Carnival has a lower tailgate.
The two-tone interior has a high proportion of soft-touch materials.