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Could the Kia Carnival get a new smaller sibling? 2022 Kia Carens / Rondo MPV revealed with SUV styling cues

The new Carens lacks the type of safety gear expected in Australia, such as AEB.

Kia dropped the seven-seat Rondo MPV from the Australian market back in 2019, but is this the model to replace it?

The Kia Carens – also called Rondo in some countries, including Australia – has just been uncovered in fourth-generation guise in India.

But those hoping for a smaller version of the cool Kia Carnival will be disappointed. This version is designed and built in India for the Indian market and a Kia Australia spokesperson confirmed there are no plans to bring it here.

The new version adopts Kia’s ‘Opposites United’ design philosophy, and, like the Carnival, features SUV-like styling flourishes and a higher ride height in a bid to make it look less like a people mover.

There’s a clear family resemblance to models like the new Sportage and the US-market Soul thanks to the head and tail-light cluster and new take on the tiger nose grille.

Inside, the seating in all three rows is inspired by airplane seats, according to Kia, and the second-row seats have a power tumble function to make it easier to get in and out of the third row.

Those second-row seats can recline and slide, while the third-row pew can be lowered into the boot floor to maximise cargo space. There’s also tray on the seat backs, cooled cupholders, retractable cupholders and more.

The dash features a wide and high-set gloss black panel that’s adjacent to the 10.25-inch Kia Connect touchscreen that’s capable of over-the-air updates.

The new-gen Carens lacks the type of driver assist and active safety features we get in Australia, such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane keeping aids and adaptive cruise, meaning it would not fare well in an ANCAP test. 

The Rondo tall-boy hatch was one of Kia’s slowest sellers and was dropped from its line-up around the time Kia axed another quirky model – the Soul – as well as the Optima sedan.

Kia actually sold all three generations of the Rondo in Australia from 2000 on – although the first one carried the Carens moniker – but the spacious hatchback had few direct competitors and buyers largely kept their distance.