Kia Carnivals are rare beasts, the just released new model replaces the one introduced almost 10 years ago. In that decade there have been huge forward strides in vehicle platform design and the all-new Carnival benefits in many ways.
New Carnival has 75 per cent more rigidity and added interior room, yet hasn’t put on any weight. The body is slightly shorter and lower than before, but sits on a longer wheelbase to stretch the legroom in the cabin.
Best of all in the eyes of many is that Carnival has style, and plenty of it. No longer is this a box on wheels bought by the family that needs - rather than wants - a people mover. Sales are likely to go to many who take pride in their vehicle.
Explore the 2015 Kia Carnival range
Who knows, Australians may even follow their American cousins and go for minivans (US for people movers) ahead of SUVs. SUVs are often gas guzzlers, particularly when you buy them with seven or eight seat capacity as they are big, heavy and not particularly streamlined. Minivans make more sense, are simpler to drive and do more than their fair share of looking after our environment if all seats are in use.
We love the big bold radiator grille and squared-off front of the new Carnival, though we have to say its shape doesn’t immediately cry out that it’s a Kia. That’s because the so-called Schreyer centre of the grille doesn’t have the very definite reduction in height as others in the Kia range, a reduction that we feel is its strongest styling feature.
Anyhow, beauty is in the eye of the beholder so we will let you make your own decision when you pop into your local Kia dealership. While you’re there have a look at the different finishes offered on the grilles of the various Carnival grades, in ascending order; S, Si, SLi and Platinum.
The interior of the new Carnival is impressive, this is far from being a stripped down people mover, instead it has the sort of style and materials usually found in big name German sedans.
Cabin usability is what vehicles in this class is all about and the guys and gals at Kia have put a lot of hard work into this.
Seat layout is two individual seats in front. Three in the centre row, with the two outer ones slightly wider than the centre seat, the centre seat backrest can be folded down to form a table, or can be removed. These seats can be folded forward in an unusual way, with the seatback vertically over the top of the seat base, which is also vertical. The result is extra luggage length and volume. Very clever.
The rearmost three seats have a 60/40 split arrangement, one or both sections can be folded completely flat to provided uninterrupted boot space.
There’s stretch out legroom gives the sort of space you normally only get in a limousine. Ease of entry to the rearmost seats is better than average, though this area is probably best left to the younger and nimbler. Space in the rear seat is good without being outstanding, but that’s not unusual in this class.
All eight seats provide the security of three-point safety belts. Carnival has a full suite of crash avoidance or mitigation features, including rollover mitigation and brake cornering control.
Even with all seats in use there is still good luggage space.
Engines and Transmissions
Big people movers need plenty of power when loaded and some makers have made the mistake of using engines that are too small. Working these little powerplants hard can turn them into gas guzzlers. Kia has been smart in offering Carnival with a 3.3-litre V6 petrol, and a big torque 2.2-litre turbo-diesel.
Power outputs are 206kW (petrol) and 147kW (diesel). More important are the torque numbers, a very useful 336Nn metres for the petrol and a huge 440Nm from the diesel. Official fuel consumption numbers are 11.6 and 7.7 litres per hundred kilometres respectively.
Though our initial drive impressions were in far from ideal conditions - in a sodden Gold Coast with a cyclone just over the horizon - we feel these fuel numbers are about right. We will report in detail when we drive them for seven days sometime in the next couple of months.
This is a large vehicle and requires more driving skill and patience than a car. Parking is easier than you might expect thanks to excellent visibility in all directions. Rear parking sensors are fitted to all models.