Chris Miller road tests and reviews the new 2015 Kia Carnival.
The all-new Kia Carnival is a winner. Picking up the baton dropped by the Honda Odyssey, Kia has come up with an all-new people mover that is stylish, functional and great value for money.
Vastly superior to the car it replaces, the new 2015 Kia Carnival is a handsome machine with styling queues taken from an SUV, and with the functionality of 8 seats that can accommodate adults and children alike, it also has the added bonus of plenty of cargo space.
Priced from $41,490 for the petrol powered base model S, and topping out at $59,990 for the diesel powered Platinum model, the Kia Carnival offers plenty of choice regardless of your budget.
The base “S” model isn’t short on standard features. At $41,490 for the petrol or $43,990 for the diesel you’ll get 17 inch alloys, rear view camera and rear parking sensors, stain resistant fabric seats with ISOFIX child seat anchor points, air conditioning front and rear, cruise control, key-less entry, auxiliary points and Bluetooth for your phone and music streaming and a whopping 10 cup holders and 4 bottle holders.
A step up to the “Si” model adds privacy glass, leather steering wheel, LED lights and fog lights, satellite navigation with an 8 inch screen, a DVD player and Tri-zone climate control for $45,590 for the petrol or $47,990 for the diesel.
The “SLi” grade at $49,990 for the petrol and $52,490 for the diesel includes power sliding doors and tailgate, 18 inch alloys, front parking sensors, power seats and push button start.
The top of the line “Platinum” includes all of the above plus 19 inch alloys, a unique mesh grill, HID headlights with auto high-beam, heated steering wheel, sunshade blinds and heated and cooled electric seats with memory function. Available in two extra colours, the Platinum model comes in at $57, 490 for the petrol and $59,990 for the diesel.
Disappointingly only the Platinum model gets the safety pack which includes Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Monitoring, Forward Collision Monitoring and Radar Cruise Control.
Unfortunately these safety features can’t even be optioned for the lower grades, although the Carnival does have some impressive standard safety credentials with a stronger body shell built with high tensile steel, six airbags covering all occupants front to rear, stability control, anti lock brakes and hill start assist.
The Kia Carnival has missed out on a 5 Star Rating from ANCAP but it does seem a minor technicality. In the Australian Market only, a new requirement for 2015 is the inclusion of second row seat belt reminders, something not available in the Carnival until the third quarter of 2015.
In all other areas of crash testing the Kia Carnival performed exceptionally well and in the US market it has been named as a “Top Safety Pick” by the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The 3.3 litre petrol engine develops 206kW and 336Nm and it’s a smooth, refined power plant that is reasonably efficient. On a varied run between the Gold Coast to Byron Bay and back we saw 11.3 litres per 100km of standard unleaded.
The petrol engine isn’t as effortless as the diesel though thanks to 440Nm of torque available from the 2.2 litre turbo-diesel from 1750rpm. The extra cost however would mean you’d need to travel about 70,000km before it would become a cheaper alternative even though the diesel only sips 7.7 litres per 100km.
Inside the cabin you can hear just a dull clatter of the oil burning engine, outside the car however there’s no mistaking the diesel.
Both engines are hooked to Kia’s 6-Speed automatic has smooth shifts and an intuition that seems to always have the transmission in the right gear to best exploit the engine.
The Australian tuned ride is excellent, even in the higher spec models with 18 and 19 inch wheels. The steering however is a bit vague, particularly on centre which is unusual considering it’s a hydraulic system.
The cabin is a genuinely nice place to spend time. The finishes and materials used were beyond my expectations and the build quality can’t be faulted.
The architecture of the dash and the seating position is car like, and all round visibility is excellent. There’s no mistaking this is a big car, but with the parking sensors and cameras it’s a doddle to park.
One of the surprising revelations was the amount of cargo space available, even with all three rows of seats in use. A deep well in the rear that the third row of seats folds in to doubles as a great space for a pram, plenty of shopping or even the golf clubs.
The rear seats are flexible and can be moved forward & back to suit the load you are carrying, the centre seat in the second row can be removed altogether, and all of the rear seats can be stowed for a massive cargo area that would rival any commercial van.
With plenty of flexibility, great looks and excellent value for money, Kia has a hit on their hands with the all-new Carnival. Throw in efficient drive trains, proper safety and an unrivalled 7 year unlimited kilometre warranty and it’s hard to see how you could go wrong in the Carnival.
NUTS and BOLTS - 2015 Kia Carnival
Engine: 3.3 litre petrol producing 206kW and 336Nm or 2.2 litre diesel producing 147kW and 440Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic (only)
Safety: Not tested
Warranty: Seven years
Origin: South Korea
Price: From $41,490