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Stuart Martin
Reviewed & driven by

8 Nov 2016

Kia Grand Carnival and Hyundai iMax go head-to-head in this comparative review.


Kia Grand Carnival, +4

The value proposition is top-notch given the aged Toyota Tarago starts at $4K more, but diesel adds a steep $4000. The mid-spec Si has 16-inch alloys, velour trim and power/heated exterior mirrors. There are USB and Bluetooth phone and audio link, six-speaker sound with steering wheel controls, aircon with rear vents and separate controls. Resale is rated in the mid-40 per cent range.

Hyundai iMax, +3

The iMax doesn't fall short - 16-inch alloys, full-size spare, Bluetooth and USB link, steering wheel phone and audio controls, six speakers, auto locking, power front windows, suede/cloth trim, aircon with rear controls. Middle row lacks wind-down windows and it's four airbags shy of the Kia. Resale value is 59 per cent.


Kia Grand Carnival, +3

The extra cash buys a 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel (143kW/429Nm). At 8.1L/100km it's almost 3L better on the combined cycle than the petrol V6 version so that 80L tank takes it a lot further. There's a six-speed auto option.

Hyundai iMax, +3

Driving the rear wheels is a 2.5-litre four-cylinder (125 kW/441Nm) with less power but more torque than the Kia when teamed with the auto - the six-speed manual drops 25kW/98Nm. The auto diesel iMax claims 9.0L/100km from the 75L tank.


Kia Grand Carnival, +3

The Kia is far from fashionable but more than practical - sliding doors on both sides (on both cars here) make unloading easy. At 5.1m long, 2m wide and 1.8m tall it's no shrinking violet, but there's ample interior space. The middle row is removable, the third stashes in the floor, so loadspace ranges from good to immense.

Hyundai iMax, +2.5

At 5m long and 1.9m wide and two tonnes, it's a big box. Absence of design flair translates to a stack of space. The cabin is useful without being luxurious - the middle seat row slides but neither it or the third row can be removed, limiting load capability. Luggage space is still well above the segment average. Its light commercial roots are betrayed by the pop-out rear windows.


Kia Grand Carnival, +3.5

The Kia has six airbags, scores four stars and still has lap-only centre belts. The Si has optional rear camera or sensors. There are ABS, stability control, five child restraint anchorage points and space-saver spare, but no rain-sensing wipers or auto headlights.

Hyundai iMax, +3

Four crash stars for the iMax despite the fact that there are only two airbags (that LCV heritage shines through again) but there are ABS, stability control, reversing sensors (but no camera, even as an option), as well as lap-sash belts for all occupants. Rugrats get child-seat anchor points only on the second row and there's a full-size (drop-down external) spare.


Kia Grand Carnival, +3.5

It's not as stylish as some SUVs but shifting offspring is a doddle. Despite the age of the model its child seats are anchored to the bottom of the second and third row backrests and seat belt buckles are unobstructed (Honda, are you listening?). Its vintage is apparent in such things as tilt-only steering. When loaded up, its jumpy ride settles down. The diesel asks plenty upfront from the hip pocket but delivers in driveability and frugal fuel use.

Hyundai iMax, +3.5

If you need to cart adults and kids on a regular basis then Hyundai's offering is a good compromise. A sedate 'old-school" bus to drive, it becomes a little less daunting with familiarity but at nearly 2m tall it's not as carpark friendly as its Kia second cousin. Heftier but torquier than the Carnival, it's not difficult to get ticking along in traffic, but low-speed manoeuvring would be easier with a camera teamed with the sensors.


Kia Grand Carnival, 17 points vs. Hyundai iMax, 15 points

The Kia wins on safety, comfort and acres of unfettered space. 

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