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Kia Carnival Platinum diesel 2018 review

A growing family means a bigger car, but that doesn't have to mean the end of your fun behind the wheel.

When one adult and three kids becomes two adults and four kids, transport takes on a whole new dynamic. Thankfully, there are a growing number of vehicles designed to help solve such a problem. 

Welcome to blended-family life. 

For this long-weekend test I drove the Kia Carnival 2018 Platinum. Priced at $62,790, it's an eight-seat van powered by a diesel engine that sits at the very top of the Carnival range, and arrives with premium trimmings like as leather-appointed seats, tinted glass and shiny chrome-finish 19-inch rims.

The mission? Our Carnival was tasked with transporting the six of us (two adults and four kids) on a two-hour journey to a farm where we planned to stay for the long weekend.

So how will the Carnival handle duties as the blended-family bus carting all six of us, luggage and food for the long weekend? We had 500km of open-road driving and hours of happy (hopefully) driving to find out.

Friday

For those familiar with the evolution of the Carnival, this current generation represents a remarkable step-change in design. Creating a larger van with improved proportions is no easy task, but it's hard to find a profile or angle where this van doesn’t look good.

  • 2018 Kia Carnival Platinum Diesel. 2018 Kia Carnival Platinum Diesel.
  • 2018 Kia Carnival Platinum Diesel. 2018 Kia Carnival Platinum Diesel.
  • 2018 Kia Carnival Platinum Diesel. 2018 Kia Carnival Platinum Diesel.
  • 2018 Kia Carnival Platinum Diesel. 2018 Kia Carnival Platinum Diesel.

The 19-inch rims combined with the van’s wide stance give the Carnival Platinum a more aggressive look, which is not a bad thing for an eight-seat people-mover. Other exterior design features, such as the front bumper and grille along with the rear taillights, have been given a little makeover.

With luggage and food supplies to pack for the long weekend, I was a little worried about whether the boot, with the third row in place, had enough space to fit everything. I needn’t have worried, as thanks to a deep recess in the floor there’s 960-litres of boot space available. 

For those needing extra load space, there’s an impressive 2200 litres with the third row stashed, and a cargo van-like 4022 litres with both rows folded. The boot is electrically operated, too.

  • 2018 Kia Carnival Platinum Diesel. 2018 Kia Carnival Platinum Diesel.
  • 2018 Kia Carnival Platinum Diesel. 2018 Kia Carnival Platinum Diesel.
  • 2018 Kia Carnival Platinum Diesel. 2018 Kia Carnival Platinum Diesel.

The four kids - aged four, nine, nine and 11 - piled inside and arranged themselves two to a row, with the booster seat fitted to one of the three tether points in the second row. There are also four ISOFIX points, two in each of the second and third rows. Although the Carnival offers a 2/3/3 seating configuration, the third row is pretty narrow and best left to kids only. 

Getting in and out of the Carnival is made easier thanks to electric sliding doors which can be activated numerous ways; remotely via the key fob, the door handle, a button on the B pillar and a button located in the panel above the rear view mirror. There’s also a button to deactivate the electric doors should you wish, but they are on the heavy side when operated manually.

  • 2018 Kia Carnival Platinum Diesel. 2018 Kia Carnival Platinum Diesel.
  • 2018 Kia Carnival Platinum Diesel. 2018 Kia Carnival Platinum Diesel.
  • 2018 Kia Carnival Platinum Diesel. 2018 Kia Carnival Platinum Diesel.
  • 2018 Kia Carnival Platinum Diesel. 2018 Kia Carnival Platinum Diesel.
  • 2018 Kia Carnival Platinum Diesel. 2018 Kia Carnival Platinum Diesel.

Access to the third row is a doddle from both sides, with the second-row seats folding neatly forward to allow access. Second- and third-row seats are adjustable for backrest inclination, while the second row can also be slid forwards and back on a rail system to allow for more space in the third row.

With a two-hour drive ahead of us we set off for the farm late morning, aiming to arrive in time for lunch. The distance to the farm was around 180km, covering mainly motorway and some country back roads. 

The eight-inch touchscreen comes with nav, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. The eight-inch touchscreen comes with nav, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard.

Upfront, the dash layout is simple and elegant, yet highly functional and easy to navigate. There are plenty of hard plastics but they don’t detract from the premium feel of the cabin. The eight-inch touchscreen comes with nav that offers speed-sign recognition and voices warnings for camera locations, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard.

The drive was incredibly comfortable and largely uneventful, with all four kids having enough space to spread out. Having roof vents for all three rows helped to maintain a decent cabin temperature, and the kids were able to charge their devices care of the USB connections in the second row. They made good use of the six cupholders located across the two rows and bottle holders in both the rear sliding doors.

The farm animals were a welcome sight for all of us. The farm animals were a welcome sight for all of us.

Despite being a relatively trouble-free trip, the two-hour drive had maxed out the kids' patience - the farm stay and its animals were a welcome sight for all six of us. 

Sunday

We thought it best to hold off the return journey until mid morning to allow the temperature to get above zero and the ice to melt off the windscreen.

The Carnival Platinum comes with a 2.2-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel engine making 147kW/440Nm. The Carnival Platinum comes with a 2.2-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel engine making 147kW/440Nm.

The Carnival Platinum comes with a 2.2-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel engine making 147kW/440Nm, and it's matched with an eight-speed auto which has been upgraded from the six-speed unit in the previous model. The result is super-smooth gear changes around town that are barely noticeable. 

It was seriously impressive on the motorway, too. Considering there were six of us, luggage and food, the acceleration at mid-range speeds was impressive, and it hardly broke a sweat up hills. Engine and road noise, even on country back roads, made little to no intrusion in the cabin, further adding to the premium feel.

The Carnival’s width of 1985mm becomes apparent in the narrower back streets, yet it’s still easy to manoeuvre through gaps. The Carnival’s width of 1985mm becomes apparent in the narrower back streets, yet it’s still easy to manoeuvre through gaps.

Back in the suburbs, the Carnival’s width of 1985mm becomes apparent in the narrower back streets, yet it’s still easy to manoeuvre through gaps. Visibility for the driver and passengers alike is excellent. The light steering, 360-degree camera and parking sensors work in combination to make parking of any sort a straight-forward and painless exercise.

The five-star ANCAP-rated Carnival comes with a suite of safety kit, including front and rear airbags with curtain airbags covering all three rows, AEB at city and urban speeds, lane-departure warning, blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert and adaptive cruise control. The lane-departure system was a little over zealous, and was switched off for most of the drive.

The trip computer displays a fuel consumption reading of 7.5L/100km. This is just under Kia’s claimed 7.6L/100km. The trip computer displays a fuel consumption reading of 7.5L/100km. This is just under Kia’s claimed 7.6L/100km.

Across the three days we covered around 500km of motorway, urban and country roads, with the trip computer displaying a fuel consumption reading of 7.5L/100km. This is just under Kia’s claimed 7.6L/100km. Either way that means decent range from its 80-litre fuel tank. 


The Wrap

The Carnival Platinum scores high marks across the board for its practicality, premium feel and driving characteristics. It's worthy of consideration not only against other with eight-seat vans, but seven-seat SUVs, too. Its large cabin provides ample flexibility for carrying passengers or loads, and it easily catered to our roadtrip needs.

It's a van that deserves the title of blended-family bus.

What are your thoughts on this eight-seat Kia Carnival Platinum? Let us know in the comments.

Likes

Huge amount of space
Premium cabin feel
Engine performance

Dislikes

Lane-departure warning
Space-saver spare
Third row a squash for three

Scores

Dan:

4.3

The Kids:

$53,988 - $66,468

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