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Kia Carnival 2023 review: Platinum diesel

People mover? Check. Sexy styling? Check. Wait, what?! Yep, the Kia Carnival Platinum does both.

It’s been a week of surprises. I’m not one to usually fangirl over a people mover, as I’ve always found them to look a bit ugly. Yet, the new Kia Carnival Platinum turbo-diesel (which is top-of-the-range) has converted me.

I only have one child but I’ll be damned if I’ll be talked out of considering one for my next car! Jokes, my small family of three doesn’t quite justify the need for one but it has to be one of the better family cars out there.

High praise? If you’re thinking that, you’ve never been in this car. My advice, don’t knock it until you try it. 

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Price and features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

There are four grades for the Carnival with a petrol and diesel variant per grade. Our Platinum diesel model sits right at the top and costs $67,580, before on road costs.

However, that seems fairly priced considering the competition. It’s roughly on par with another 2XL people mover, the Hyundai Staria ($67,000) and a tad more expensive than newcomer LDV Mifa ($63,990). But there’s not a lot on the market that competes with the luxury factor this model offers, nor are they as smartly dressed.

The features list is stellar, with the following items coming as standard: electrically-adjustable, heated and ventilated front seats, heated outboard seats in the middle row, a powered tailgate, three-zone climate control, wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, eight seats (2/3/3 configuration), 19-inch alloy wheels and not one but two sunroofs. Just to name a few.

The Carnival Platinum Diesel model is $67,580, before on road costs. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The Carnival Platinum Diesel model is $67,580, before on road costs. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Design – Is there anything interesting about its design?

With the dimensions to suit transporting a developing nation, the Carnival ain't small. It’s not too high, being only 1775mm tall, but the 1995mm width and 5155mm length is what will make you question whether it will fit inside your garage.

Don’t fret, it has a superb 11.7m turning circle, so navigating your local Westfield car park is more than possible.

You will fill a car space but you’ll still fit (just). The 172mm ground clearance makes it easy to get in and out (even for kids, hurrah).

The Carnival is 1775mm tall and 1995mm wide. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The Carnival is 1775mm tall and 1995mm wide. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

With dimensions like those, it would be easy for it to look like a brick-on-wheels, but it doesn’t. In fact, I’d even call it stylish.

The size has been nicely tapered at the front and sports a handsome mix of chrome and black accents to break up the wide body panelling.

The interior is downright plush and a true delight to be in. There’s a beautiful mix of synthetic leather trims, synthetic wood/chrome/piano black panelling and soft touchpoints throughout that create a real sense of refinement. 

The interior is downright plush and a true delight to be in. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The interior is downright plush and a true delight to be in. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Practicality – How practical is its space and tech inside?

The interior is what makes people movers so practical as a family car, and the Carnival is no different. In this case, it's packaged beautifully, too.

The interior invokes a sense of limo-like space with ample head- and legroom for even taller occupants in the front and middle rows. Even the third row is adequate for my 168cm height (5'6").

Amenities throughout are great and each row benefits from a healthy features list. There are a minimum of two USB-A ports in each row, as well as, two 12-volt ports in the car.

The interior invokes a sense of limo-like space. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The interior invokes a sense of limo-like space. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

The middle row was a favourite for my six-year old because of the directional air vents, climate control and retractable sunblinds. Third row passengers get the same, minus the climate control.

A special mention to the designers for putting the controls for the electric sliding rear doors and boot lid on the RHS of the steering wheel and key fob. As a parent, I salute you for these very useful placements!

Individual storage is good with a glove box, large middle console, phone tray, device holder (passenger side), two cupholders and drink bottle holders in the first row.

Middle row amenities include directional air vents, climate control and retractable sunblinds. (Image: Glen Sullivan) Middle row amenities include directional air vents, climate control and retractable sunblinds. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

The second row gets map pockets, cupholders, a phone holder plus two extra cupholders and ‘table’ when you fold down the middle seat.  

Third row occupants get a couple of cupholders each plus a small snack tray.

The boot, how I love thee. It’s ginormous. With all three rows in action, you still get 627L of capacity because the floor is deep.

Even the third row is adequate for taller occupants. (Image: Glen Sullivan) Even the third row is adequate for taller occupants. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

It’s deep because the third row folds down into the well to create a level loading space when not in use and that pumps up the capacity to 2785L! It’s also easy to gain access to because of the powered boot lid.

Basically, you’ll have the room necessary to ferry the crew and their gear around.

The technology throughout feels modern and user-friendly (a winning combo) with a large 12.3-inch touchscreen multimedia system that has Bluetooth connectivity, satellite navigation as well as wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

  •  With all three rows in action, there is 627L of boot capacity. (Image: Glen Sullivan) With all three rows in action, there is 627L of boot capacity. (Image: Glen Sullivan)
  • The third row folds down into the well to create a level loading space when not in use. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The third row folds down into the well to create a level loading space when not in use. (Image: Glen Sullivan)
  • With the second and third row seats folded down, there is 2785L of boot capacity. (Image: Glen Sullivan) With the second and third row seats folded down, there is 2785L of boot capacity. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Under the bonnet – What are the key stats for its engine and transmission?

The Carnival Platinum has two engines available, a 3.5-litre V6 petrol version, and our model, which has a 2.2-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine with a maximum output of 148kW and 440Nm of torque.

That makes hauling the big body plus your gear a breeze. It also has a braked towing capacity of 2000kg, if you need to add a trailer for weekend pursuits.

The eight-speed auto transmission combined with the grunty engine makes for a very pleasant driving experience.

Under the bonnet is a 2.2-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine. (Image: Glen Sullivan) Under the bonnet is a 2.2-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Efficiency – What is its fuel consumption? What is its driving range?

It’s powerful but is it efficient? Deliciously, so. The official combined fuel figure is 6.5L/100km and after driving around 850km, my trip computer was reading an average of 6.7L. That’s better than some hybrids on the market but I expect it to be higher in the city.

The Carnival has a 72L fuel tank with an approximate range of 1100km.

The official combined fuel figure for the Carnival Platinum Diesel is 6.5L/100km. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The official combined fuel figure for the Carnival Platinum Diesel is 6.5L/100km. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Driving – What's it like to drive?

It’s an incredibly smooth ride and the power makes it responsive in most conditions.

Because of its length, I was a bit choosy with when I ‘zipped’ across traffic, but overall, it handles urban and open-road driving very well. 

The suspension absorbs the bumps in the road and the cabin is quiet but you occasionally get some wind noise at higher speeds.

Despite the Carnivals length, it handles urban and open-road driving very well. (Image: Glen Sullivan) Despite the Carnivals length, it handles urban and open-road driving very well. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

If the back passengers are struggling to hear you, there is a handy ‘talk’ function that will transmit the drivers voice to the back rows, if you need to communicate without raising your voice.

It's easy enough to park with the clear 360-degree view camera but I found myself reversing into spots because the visibility was so much better out of the front windows.

I didn’t much like the idea of reversing out of a car space in a high traffic zone but the rear cross-traffic alert plus the front and rear parking sensors do help ease any anxiety. 

There is a handy ‘talk’ function that will transmit the drivers voice to the back rows. (Image: Glen Sullivan) There is a handy ‘talk’ function that will transmit the drivers voice to the back rows. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What is its safety rating?

The safety list is extensive with the following being standard features: LED daytime running lights, lane departure alert, lane keeping aid, emergency lane keeping aid, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert (always good to have), 360-degree view reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors.

The ‘check rear occupant’ alert and autonomous emergency braking with car, pedestrian and cyclist detection and junction assist (operational from 5.0-85 km/h), forward collision warning and rear collision warning are always great to have on a family vehicle.

It is missing a feature you tend to see on Kia's top models and it's one I would have liked to have seen on such a large car - the blind-spot camera view that pops up on the instrument panel when you indicate.

Safety features of the Carnival Platinum Diesel includes a 360-degree view reversing camera. (Image: Glen Sullivan) Safety features of the Carnival Platinum Diesel includes a 360-degree view reversing camera. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

The Carnival was recently awarded a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2021 and, surprisingly, only has seven airbags but that does include a drivers’ knee airbag and curtain airbags covering all three rows. It’s missing the newer front centre airbag, though.

There’s a total of five ISOFIX child seat mounts and five top tether anchor points across the middle and third rows (3/2) and with the middle row is wide enough to have three child seats side by side.

There is plenty of room to install a 0-4 rearward facing child seat in the middle row.

Ownership – What warranty is offered? What are its service intervals? What are its running costs?


The Wrap

Kia has dubbed the Carnival a Grand Utility Vehicle and I think that’s an apt description. The space will excite families and all occupants will be fairly comfortable. Sibling squabbles may not be as bad in the back seats due to the sheer number of amenities! I love how practical the boot space is and the driving experience is really good. I wasn’t perturbed by the size of this at all because it didn’t handle like a beast. 

Bonus, the turbo-diesel engine is very efficient given the size of the body it’s moving around. I give this a 9.5/10.

My kid loved this car. He loved touching every button he could and wanted me to fit his child seat in every position, so he could really ‘test the car mummy’. I’ve definitely gone to pro-level with child seat installation now and he gives this a 10/10.

Likes

Features features features!
Great ride comfort
Powerful engine

Dislikes

Missing a couple of tech items
Missing the handy 'blind-spot camera view'
Large body to park

Scores

Emily:

5

The Kids:

5

$45,999 - $87,990

Based on 150 car listings in the last 6 months

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