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Kia Grand Carnival 2012 Review

As a result the ride is smooth and cushy on smooth roads but with some thump and shudder over broken edges.

Not content with dominating the people mover market for almost a decade, Kia is again piling on the pressure.

This time it's with a new diesel engine for its eight-seater Carnival and the effect is like a heart transplant in an ageing body.

ENGINE AND MECHANICAL

The new 2.2-litre turbodiesel might be smaller in capacity than its 2.9-litre predecessor but it produces more power and torque and is smoother, quieter and more responsive. Output is 143kW and 429Nm of torque, an increase of 7kW, but more importantly an 86Nm boost in pulling power.

Add a six-speed automatic transmission, up from five, and the combination copes surprisingly well with the Carnival's beefy 2100kg plus body weight. And fuel use drops 3.7 per cent to a combined average of 8.1-litre/100km.

PRICE AND EQUIPMENT

Prices are up by at least $2400 over the previous diesel but the Carnival is still a class act in value for money. There are three versions: the Si at $44,900, the SLi at $50,190 and the Platinum at $56,190, all about $4000 more than the petrol versions but offset by a more flexible engine, lower running costs and higher resale value.

Equipment on the Si includes six airbags (front, side and curtain), stability control, 16-inch alloy wheels, a temporary spare wheel, heated mirrors, cruise control, power windows including the rear quarters, single CD audio with MP3, USB and iPod, Bluetooth, steering wheel controls for cruise, audio and phone and roof rails.

The SLi adds leather trim, 17-inch alloy wheels, electric sliding side doors, a rear camera and an auto-dimming mirror. The Platinum adds a sunroof, an electric tailgate, rear parking sensors, tri-zone climate control, six-disc audio and privacy glass.

Rivals in the diesel class are few, notably the more van-like Hyundai iLoad, Ssangyong's oddly styled Stavic and the more expensive Volkswagen Caravelle/Multivan. In terms of space-per-dollar and features, the diesel Grand Carnival is hard to beat.

DESIGN

Seating is arranged 2-3-3, with bucket seats in the first and second rows and a rear bench that split-folds 60:40 flat to the floor. The middle seats can also be removed leaving a van-like load area.

Styling remains similar in silhouette to the first Carnival and the interior trim is showing its age with plenty of hard grey plastic trim and still no centre three-point seat belt in the second row, and the back seats are lap belt only.

DRIVING

But it is big, versatile, practical and serviceable. The diesel engine delivers brisk take-off, strong mid-range response and relaxed cruising. The MacPherson strut front suspension and rear multi-link design are calibrated to carry up to eight people in comfort.

As a result the ride is smooth and cushy on smooth roads but with some thump and shudder over broken edges. Handling is secure enough at normal speeds but it tends to lean and wallow when stretched over secondary roads.

The brakes need a decent shove but are up to the task and the steering is light and easy to manage, although with a length of more than 5m, parking is a challenge.

Pricing guides

$12,990
Based on 47 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$4,999
Highest Price
$19,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Platinum 2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $15,400 – 21,670 2012 Kia Grand Carnival 2012 Platinum Pricing and Specs
S 3.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $4,999 – 14,999 2012 Kia Grand Carnival 2012 S Pricing and Specs
Si 2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $5,990 – 16,990 2012 Kia Grand Carnival 2012 Si Pricing and Specs
SLi 2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $13,400 – 19,360 2012 Kia Grand Carnival 2012 SLi Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide

$5,990

Lowest price, based on 15 car listings in the last 6 months

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