Kia Carnival has been a successful model in the years since its original launch.
Importantly it was upgraded in mid-2018 with significant improvements in exterior styling refinements and a substantial range of safety and comfort technology upgrades.
Owners will take comfort in the fact that their family transport looks like a car, rather than a modified van. From the outside the Carnival looks much smaller than it is, and from the inside it feels much larger than it is in terms of space.
It’s hard to make such a boxy design, look good but the Kia designers have done just that. It looks bold, yet sleek, bulky yet slim and sleek and sculptured.
There is a definite familial resemblance to the Sorento with the tiger nose grille, combined with sleeker headlight clusters that and the lower air intake with integrated fog lights add to the horizontal strength of the front design.
At the rear the lower tailgate panel and rear three-quarter panels have been given a light once-over to enhance the strength of the rear impression. It presents a long relatively low profile.
First impressions are of space, comfort and a level of luxury that is appreciated in this segment.
It is typically Kia and that comfortable, practical and fit and finish is first class. There are soft touch points everywhere, a plethora of switches and buttons, a plush two tone interior and a general feeling of upmarket style.
The driver’s seat, with adjustments for everything, including four way lumbar, is air conditioned and cocoons the occupant. It feels like a captain’s seat. The dash layout is similar to the Sorento as is the centre console and stack.
Platinum grade has a 7-inch colour TFT LCD screen, with an electro-luminescent instrument cluster and digital speedometer, while displaying all relevant journey information which the driver can select from the multi-function steering wheel.
The middle row is accessed by either side doors and provide huge room. The centre seat in the second row can be removed or simply folded down to provide additional cup holder storage for rear passengers. I even squeezed my bulky 190cm frame into the third row seats and could sit in relative comfort. That is something that is rare.
In many 7 seat wagons, and some 8 seat wagons there is little flexibility in the seating arrangements, and if all seats are being utilised, the behind seat storage is compromised. Not so in the Carnival. The two rear seats rows will fold flat to provide a positively cavernous cargo area. Equally all three rows can be in use and there will still be enough room, courtesy of the seat well, more than enough room for every occupant to take a large bag away with them. There are cup holders and storage areas everywhere throughout the vehicle.
A feature of the Carnival is the innovative ‘Stand-up’ seats in the second row, which allows the base cushion to fold forward and the rest of the seat to slide forward and ‘stand up straight’, allowing easier access to the third row in the back. The Carnival, has without doubt the most practical and flexible seat arrangement currently on the market.
Buyers of the Carnival, especially the Platinum, want for little in terms of features. These include an 8-inch screen, TFT LCD touch screen with satellite navigation, rear view camera display, and comes with Kia’s SUNA real-time traffic information and 10 years free MapCare.
The Kia also comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The entertainment system also has an 8-speaker JBL Premium sound.
A hands-free Smart Power Tailgate automatically opens when the key is ‘sensed’ in close proximity to the trunk, while the Carnival’s two power-sliding rear doors also open at the touch of a button located on the driver’s overhead console.
Other features include a heated steering wheel; cooled glove box; Smart Cruise, front parking assistance; tilting and telescopic steering wheel adjustment; and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.
The tri-zone air conditioning allows for individual settings for the driver and front row passenger while the second and third row passengers have a separate zone which can be controlled from the second row There are built-in sunshades for second and third row seating.
Drive and Engine
The Carnival comes in either a 3.3-litre GDI petrol engine or the proven 2.2-litre R Series diesel. The 3.3-litre GDI produces 206kW and 336Nm. The 2.2-litre engine produces 147kW and a significant 440Nm from 1,750 to 2,750 rpm, the engine range most commonly used by owners. The Carnival applies power to the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. Drivers can switch to a sequential manual shift mode for even greater driving control, while the Carnival is equipped with a switchable ‘Active Eco’ drive mode.
Of the two engines, I absolutely prefer the diesel, as it is more powerful, economical and relaxed to drive. Speaking of driving, apart from a need to go slightly through a corner, before you turn, like many forward control vehicles, the Carnival drives, rides, handles and has the quietness and smoothness like a Sorento.
You simply forget you are driving an 8 seat people mover.
The Kia Carnival has a five star ANCAP safety rating and is packed with both active and passive safety features as well as a suite of driver assistance systems.
These include: Autonomous Emergency Braking, six airbags (front to rear coverage), eight three-point seat belts, Electronic Stability Control (incorporating ABS, TCS, Hill Start Assist, Brake Assist, Cornering Brake Control and Roll Over Mitigation) and rear parking sensors.
Standard safety features also include Lane Departure Warning, Smart Cruise Control and Electronic Parking Brake. For Platinum owners the suite of active safety features expands even further with BSD (Blind-Spot Detection); LCA (Lane Change Assist), which alerts the driver to vehicles approaching from the rear at high speeds in neighbouring lanes; HBA (High Beam Assist) and RCTA (Rear Cross-Traffic Alert), which warns against other cars driving behind the Carnival in car parks.
- Interior space and flexibility
- Car like style and dynamics
Not so Good Bits:
- Some plastic interior
- It is large in suburban car parks
- Diesel preferable to petrol.
So to my overall impressions. I was absolutely blown away with just how good this vehicle is. I wouldn’t consider anything but the diesel engine 8 speed auto combination. It is responsive, powerful, economical and quiet. The Carnival is jammed full of comfort and safety features, drives like a sedan, seats 8 in comfort and combined with Kia’s 7 year unlimited warranty is just about the best value on the market today.
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Facts and Figures: 2019 Kia Carnival Platinum
- Engine: 22-litre CRDi produces 147kW/440Nm
- Transmission: 8-speed AT FWD
- Warranty: 7 Yrs / Unlimited km 7 Yrs Roadside Assist
- Safety: 5 Star ANCAP
- Origin: Korea
- Price: From $62,790 MLP*
*MLP – Manufacturers List Price includes GST and LCT but excluding statutory charges, dealer costs and dealer delivery. See your dealer for RDAP. Does not include price of any options.