The Kia Carnival is still the perfect people mover.
In an age where SUVs are number one, there is no substitute for proper third row seats without compromising room and comfort.
The Carnival offers up eight seats (one more than the largest SUVs), plenty of interior room, and surprising finish and inclusions even in the base model we tested this week.
And if you’re not carrying passengers it’s a great hauler with copious room from the last row of seats that tuck neatly into the floor.
The Kia Carnival is a long vehicle. That being said it is elongated and low slung and isn’t tall like a van.
However, this doesn’t sacrifice interior head room.
A people mover generally isn’t the coolest kid on the block but the large, stubby grille makes it more imposing and butch.
You get a sliding door on either side for easier access and convenience.
The base model S only cones with 17” steel rims; you’ll have to step up to any other grade for alloys.
As noted, the cabin is cavernous (it has to be to fit in 8 occupants) but actually seems roomier than from the outside.
It’s wide up front with decent separation between driver and passenger much like a larger SUV divided by the practical floor console.
The seats are upholstered in a light cheery coloured fabric that is premium but durable. A pleasant change from the mundane black.
Mid-row seats fold forward into an upright position to allow for access for back passengers and all three move independently of each other with tonnes of articulation that you can find a good balance of legroom for all rear passengers.
All rear passengers are well looked after with ceiling air vents, ample headroom and did I mention the cup holders? They’re everywhere!
People in the last row won’t feel like they’ve been stuffed in a box as in an SUV, with more width and more leg height as the seats sit off the floor. Three people may feel cramped but a couple is definitely comfortable.
When not in use the third row seats not only fold down flat but tuck into the deep well in the boot in one action to be flush with the floor perfect for carrying large items.
Even the entry level Kia Carnival S gets a good deal of kit, though you do miss out on digital radio, built-in sat-nav, and zoned A/C.
The touchscreen is small and the driver info screen is basic, but there are clever conveniences such as a shopping bag hook on the back of the front seat.
- Push button ignition
- Electric park brake/auto hold
- Wide angle interior rear view mirror
- Rear seat pockets
- 14 cup and bottle holders
- Android Auto/Apple Carplay
On the road the petrol Carnival is a nimble performer, and pulls itself along with just enough force from the 3.3L engine.
Acceleration is quite good with decent power (206kW) especially in an empty vehicle though torque isn’t as much as in a diesel variant.
So at the low end there isn’t heaps of grunt but that’s not what you expect of a people mover and the Kia Carnival is sprightly enough when up to speed.
The steering is on the light side but not to the point of being vague and is overall very easy to drive in spite of its perceived size.
Suspension is great and the ride is quiet affording even more comfort for all occupants.
- Adaptive cruise control
- Lane departure warning
- Reverse sensors
- Rear view camera
- 4 ISOFIX seats
- Comfortable third row
- Foldaway seats
- Rear legroom
- Ease of access for passengers
- Simple drive
- Endless storage
Not So Good Bits
- Missing comfort features in other variants
The Kia Carnival is the ideal vehicle for the large family or one that has regular visitors.
Its eight-seat capacity, convertibility, cabin space, and presentation make it pragmatic yet comfortable.
Even in the base model Carnival S you get durable fabric seats, tonnes of storage and air vents, adaptive cruise control and the all-important emergency braking for $42,490.
Sure you don’t get the automatic doors, powered seats, or nice touchscreen with built-in sat-nav but it’s still great value for money.
Whether it’s for carrying people or cargo, the versatile Kia Carnival is the car for the job.
Facts and Figures: 2018 Kia Carnival S
- Engine: 3.3L four-cylinder petrol producing 206kW/336Nm
- Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
- Warranty: 7 years/ unlimited km
- Safety: Five stars
- Origin: South Korea
- Price: from $42,490