Kia Carnival Platinum sets a new benchmark for the peoplemover
There’s no denying that Kia is undergoing a massive brand revolution and their large Carnival MPV was completely renewed earlier this year. The new Carnival manages to combine impressive quality and styling inside and out, the capacity to seat eight adults in comfort, surprisingly capable road manners and the choice of powerful petrol and diesel engines.
We’ve been driving the top of the range Kia Carnival Platinum with the diesel engine to uncover if the big Kia is truly a revelation.
What we like:
- Genuine seating for eight
- Comfortable and well equipped cabin
- Road manners
- Punchy and economical turbo diesel engine
Not so much:
- No electric adjustment or folding for second and third rows of seats
- That diesel isn’t quiet
- Some squeaks and rattles in the cabin
- No roof mounted DVD screens
Price and Equipment
New Kia Carnival buyers have the choice of a 3.3 litre petrol V6 or a 2.2 litre turbo diesel with both engines mated to a six-speed automatic. The range opens with the Carnival S petrol from $41,490 plus on road costs and extends all the way to luxury oriented Platinum diesel that retails from $60,990 plus government charges.
The list of standard equipment on the Platinum is expansive, with features including heated and cooled leather seats, a heated steering wheel, satellite navigation, a premium sound system with DVD functionality, tri-zone climate control and power sliding doors and rear tailgate.
A number of driving aides are fitted too including: a 360 degree camera, high intensity discharge headlamps with washers, automatic high beam assist, lane departure warning, blindspot monitoring and adaptive cruise control along with 19inch wheels to help lift the Platinum’s appearance from other models in the range.
The Carnival’s interior is big. Very big. There is exemplary room for eight adults, who sit in beige leather seats with grey inserts, seven of which are very comfortable-the middle seat in the second row is a little tight.
Access to the third row is easy: simply pull the exterior door handle, the door will electrically slide open and then one pulls a lever on the side of one of the outer middle row seats and the seat pops up allowing third row passengers to walk in.
Although the system is easy enough to use, at this price point we would’ve hoped for a one touch electronic system. The middle row seats also slide fore and aft to accommodate different passenger and cargo needs.
Move up to the front and it shows that the new Kia Carnival blends style and practicality. And when we say interior style, we just don’t mean for a people mover but even by luxury car standards. The dashboard itself largely resembles that in the Hyundai Genesis, but instead of brown woodgrain there are sand colour plastics, black woodgrain and piano black inserts that surround neatly stacked infotainment and climate controls.
There are also heated and cooled seats for the front two passengers and even a heated steering wheel. The outermost passengers in the middle row will also enjoy having their butts warmed on cold days.
The whole look is modern, refreshing and reflects Kia’s strategic move to poach Audi’s design talent-it does almost look and feel Audi-like. The gauges are clear and easy to read at a glance and the graphics on the 7inch digital display nestled between them are a crisp and sharp. The screen displays information such as trip computer data, digital speed and adaptive cruise control settings.
Infotainment functions can be accessed by the high mounted 8inch display. The layout is easy to interpret and the navigation is quick, decisive and displays clear diagrams when approaching freeway off ramps.
Ergonomically, our only criticism is that the switchgear for the climate control system are positioned are a little too low and on the odd occasion we found ourselves knocking our hand on the gear lever.
The system also has DVD playing functionality but only when the car is stationary and there aren’t any roof mounted screens for the six rear passengers that won’t keep the kids amused on long journeys. And we’re not sure how that lovely sand coloured leather would fare against a toddler’s sticky fingers. But, there are sun blinds for rows two and three, helping to keep harsh sunlight out occupants’ eyes.
Interior storage is vast-there are two glove boxes, many cupholders, bottle holders, one of the biggest centre consoles in the business along with a 960 litre cargo area with all seats upright.
Engine and Transmission
The Kia Carnival CRDi is powered by a 2.2 litre turbo diesel engine that develops 147kW @ 3800rpm and 440Nm @ 1750-2750rpm. This engine is also shared with the Hyundai Santa Fe and we’ve lauded the powerplant in the past for its blend of strong performance and frugal economy.
The tradition continues in the Carnival. The engine has enough grunt to shift eight people and their associated luggage. Unfortunately, it still is too noisy and a little too unrefined both inside and outside the cabin.
The six-speed automatic is smooth too and during our test week-where the car was relatively unladen-we averaged around 9.1 litres per 100 kilometres.
On The Road
People movers aren’t traditionally known for the prowess on the tarmac. While the new Kia Carnival certainly isn’t sporty and its large mass can certainly be felt, it corners and rides with aplomb. Steering is well weighted-if a little light-but gives the driver a good indication of what’s happening down below. A high driving position and excellent visibility help to make driving the new Carnival all the more pain free.
The handling experience was aptly demonstrated when threading the Carnival through sharp and twisty roads in Yan Yean, north of Melbourne. The bends were dealt with confidently and broken and potholed tarmac was ironed out without fuss.
Jump on a freeway and the adaptive cruise control is a generally useful companion, although at times it felt like it was a little slow in adjusting to the flow of traffic.
Additional key gripes on the move were that under acceleration there was a hint of torque steer and the rear seats did squeak and rattle over road imperfections.
The Kia Carnival range has been awarded a five star ANCAP safety rating and protects occupants with anti-lock brakes, stability control and six airbags. The Platinum adds rear cross traffic alert, a 360 degree camera, a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors and blind spot monitoring along with a crash mitigation system.
The new Carnival is covered by Kia’s seven year unlimited kilometre warranty.
Kia offers a seven year capped price servicing programme on all new models including the Carnival.
Kia Carnival Platinum CRDi Specs
Make and model: Kia Carnival Platinum CRDi Engine type: 2199cc In-line 4 cylinder common rail diesel with 16 valves and turbo and intercooler.
Power: 147kW @ 3,800rpm
Torque: 440Nm @ 1,750-2,750rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic and front-wheel drive
Fuel consumption: 7.7 litres per 100 kilometres
Dimensions: 5115mm long, 1985mm wide, 1755mm high and 3060mm wheelbase
Suspension: Front: Macpherson strut Rear: Multi link
Steering: Rack and pinion Country of Origin: Korea
Options: Aurora Black metallic paint for $695