Kia Carnival offers a good show, but tough crowd
PEOPLE-movers are in desperate need of some good PR.
Unfortunately, the family haulers are the antipodes of sexy. You don't see the Kardashians going all hashtaggy on a Toyota Tarago or even a cheeky French C4 Grand Picasso.
After two months with the Kia Carnival, the eight-seater rapidly gained popularity. At least with our family. The Edwards crew of four embraced van life and lauded its internal flexibility.
Yet the greatest challenge was convincing the household style decision maker. Mum.
GRANT: When first getting behind the Carnival, its sizable frame can prove challenging.
KELLY: I had assumed it was going to be difficult because it's long and it was my preconceived idea it would be hard to manoeuvre.
GRANT: Kia Australia has a local tuning arm which enables changes to be made at the factory before cars are shipped here and sold in our market. They have done a good job with the Carnival, especially considering they have to be able to perform both unladen and with a full netball team aboard (and the coach).
KELLY: Getting in and out of carparks was simple because the front end is so short. It wasn't heavy through the steering wheel and it actually feels light.
GRANT: That short front overhang certainly makes it easier, but I found reversing into parks the best option. Modern carparks aren't generous with space so it was often the easiest way to fit in the 5m-long frame.
KELLY: I didn't find it difficult like I have with some large cars. Not having sensors at the front sometimes made it hard as you have to make sure you park it far enough forward so the back end wasn't hanging out in traffic.
LIFE ON THE ROAD
GRANT: Our test Carnival was the Si, one rung up from the base model, and only the SLi and range-topping Platinum come with front and rear parking sensors as standard. An update last year did come with life-saving autonomous emergency braking, lane-keeping assist and radar cruise control.
KELLY: I rarely think many manufacturers have radar cruise right. Often when in traffic I find it brakes too heavily or doesn't pick up speed quick enough and I feel like that can cause issues for those travelling behind you. The Kia functionality is among the better ones I have used.
GRANT: There are acres of space inside and you rarely want for additional real estate.
KELLY: It's certainly spacious. I took three adults during one trip and there was plenty of space across the second row, and no one had to squish together. Across the dash I found the layout basic and intuitive, plus there is space to put drink bottles, wallets and keys.
GRANT: With kids comes stuff. And we always seem to have ample stuff no matter where we travel so those spaces become vital. The concave mirror was also handy to keep an eye on the kids.
KELLY: When the third row was collapsed into the floor, it was a massive cargo space. While that space is brilliant, anything we put in the boot slid forward and often required climbing aboard to retrieve bags.
GRANT: That space certainly came in handy when undertaking a road trip. Accommodating a bike without removing any wheels, along with four bags, it didn't come close to filling the cargo area with the front two rows in place. Other times saw four mountain bikes fit in the back. From that perspective, it proved superior to a dual-cab ute because everything is contained and you don't need to lock things up when you leave the vehicle - we were able to leave the Carnival at a theme park all day without fear of having things stolen.
KELLY: The Carnival was also easier to drive than a ute.
GRANT: We drew a comparison between the Carnival and a ute previously and one commenter recently said: "I'd like to see you load a fridge or lounge into it. Can't beat a dual cab for versatility." How often do you move those? We've had our lounge for more than a decade, and the fridge came with free delivery about five years ago.
KELLY: Our lounge needs to be replaced.
GRANT: As she said, a new one won't fit in the Carnival. But if we did get one and I wanted to save on delivery we'd hook up a trailer - it can tow up to 2000kg braked.
KELLY: The other challenge with a ute is groceries. I would put the bags on the back seat and in the footwells of a ute to stop them sliding around in the tray, and then you can't do a full grocery shop with the whole family.
GRANT: There are two Carnival engine options, a V6 petrol, or the 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel which was in our test Carnival. Diesels don't suit everyone, especially those who just do short trips, but we regularly undertake longer highway travels and the fuel consumption varied between just over seven litres per 100km on the open road and about 9.5 around town.
KELLY: I think there is still a stigma attached to a people-mover, quite a few people wouldn't consider it because it's a van.
GRANT: Absolutely. Until they feature on the catwalks of Milan things probably won't change. So you'd now have one?
KELLY: It changed my perspective a little bit in terms of having it on the shopping list, but I'm representative of the market and I'd probably still prefer to have an SUV or a ute. But I can now absolutely see the benefits in having one. The Carnival has come a long way in terms of styling. If I had three children or a need to transport additional kids I would look at things completely differently.
GRANT: Not me, I love the van. Anyone in a large SUV with no need to go off-road is in the wrong vehicle.
AT A GLANCE
KIA CARNIVAL Si
PRICE $54,708 drive-away
WARRANTY/SERVICING 7-year unlimited kilometre warranty, capped services $2510 5 years
ENGINE 2.2-litre 4-cyl turbo diesel 147kW/440Nm, 8sp auto
SAFETY Five star, six airbags, smart cruise control, AEB, lane departure warning
CARGO 960 litres, third row folded 2220