A refined drivetrain, enhanced equipment levels and improved styling keep the 2019 Kia Carnival Platinum at the top of the MPV tree
We like the Kia Carnival. We like the way it looks, we like the way it drives and we like its ability to do the people mover thing rather well. In flagship Platinum spec, we like all the toys and comfort. In fact, we think the Carnival is the car of choice if you need to carry more than five people on a regular basis and is a more logical choice than a seven seat SUV. More on that here.
Kia has just refreshed the Carnival range for 2019 and in the process have made a number of changes. All models now get autonomous emergency braking and adaptive cruise, an electronic park brake replaces the old foot-operated set up, there’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, body rigidity has been increased by 74 per cent and Kia Australia’s engineers have further improved the ride and handling. Noise, vibration and harshness in the cabin has been improved.
The two engine choices are carried over: the 3.3 petrol V6 and Kia’s grunty and more popular turbo diesel. If you opt for the diesel – and that’s our recommendation – you’ll benefit from an all-new eight-speed automatic, which replaces the outgoing six-speed unit.
Finally, Kia has lightly warmed over the styling to you can distinguish the MY19 Carnival range from its predecessors.
Prices for the 2019 Kia Carnival range start at $42,490 for the S V6 petrol and extend to $62,790 plus on road costs for the Platinum diesel, as tested here.
The standard equipment list for the Carnival Platinum is extensive. Aside from all the equipment aforementioned, you also keep lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, front and rear parking sensors, a 360 degree camera system, a power tailgate, power rear doors, a full leather interior, heated and cooled front seats, power front seats a heated steering wheel, satellite navigation and a new JBL sound system. So it’s safe to say you get a fair bit if kit for your money.
Oh, and that new JBL sound system is pretty impressive, and it’ll do well at pumping out Wiggles tunes on the way to kinder. Or perhaps Baby Shark, if that’s what you prefer.
Climb inside the Carnival Platinum and it’s still a very pleasant place to be. The dash has aged well and it’s still easy to use and very ergonomic. Kia has thought of the children too. There’s a little mirror that pops out of the roof so the parentals can keep an eye on the offspring in the back and there’s an enormous centre console to ensure there’s sufficient oddment storage.
Jump into the second row and there’s ample room for three adults. Middle row passengers have access to their own climate controls and vents to maintain optimum comfort levels. Said middle row seats fold forward easily to allow access to the third row, which will accommodate three adults and offer them sufficient head, leg and shoulder room and their own air con vents.
Up the back, the boot is huge and will swallow a wide array of children’s paraphernalia, shopping or luggage, whatever takes your fancy.
Now, the biggest elements of the 2019 Carnival facelift are the enhanced refinement, handling and that eight-speed auto. Now, let’s look at those. The cabin is a quiet and refined, with road noise kept to a minimum. The only noise that was notable in the cabin was clatter from that diesel engine.
The 2.2 litre turbocharged and intercooled four-cylinder diesel produces 147kW @ 3800rpm and 440Nm @ 1750-2750rpm and is a tried and tested power plant and also features in the Kia Sorento. Performance is strong, and the Carnival boasts impressive acceleration and can even tow up to 2,000kg, perfect if you want to hitch a boat or a caravan.
But, we found that the engine is starting to feel a little dated and noisy, and this became apparent when you push on a little. Granted, it’s also relatively fuel efficient. Kia cites an official combined fuel consumption figure of 7.6 litres per 100 kilometres. We averaged just over nine litres per 100 kilometres over a mixture of city and country driving. Not bad for an eight seat minivan.
Part of that impressive fuel consumption is that new eight-speed automatic. The new gearbox shifts seamlessly and is generally rather smooth. However, we did find on occasion that it did hold gears for a little longer than we would have liked.
Still, the diesel drivetrain is our pick over the V6 both in terms of performance and efficiency.
Now, onto the ride and handling. The Carnival is actually a very pleasant thing to drive, it does feel big, but the ride is excellent and the steering is relatively direct. It’s no different if not better to drive than a seven seat SUV, and you even get that commanding driving position.
Yours truly enjoyed piloting the Carnival around for a week.
Overall, the previous Carnival Platinum was an excellent thing, But Kia Australia has made it just that little bit better to make sure that it not only stays Australia’s favourite people mover but a viable alternative to that very tempting three row SUV.