Built on Kia’s new mid-size platform the fourth-generation Kia Carnival offers more space, refinement and capability than its predecessors. It’s available in four variants, the S, Si, SLi and Platinum.

The entry-level S has 17-inch alloy wheels, a roof rack, solar glass windshield, 8-inch AV unit with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, 4.2-inch TFT LCD cluster. A six-speaker sound system. Drive mode select with normal/eco/sport/smart, keyless entry. It has cloth seats, rear parking sensors, rear view monitor with dynamic guidelines, and a tilt and telescopic adjustable steering wheel.

The Carnival Si adds 18-inch alloys, a 12.3-inch audio visual unit, eight-speaker sound system, dual-zone automatic temperature control front and single zone rear, premium steering wheel and shifting knob, and front parking sensors.

Kia Carnival SLi has privacy rear glass, smart key with push-button start, artificial leather seats, surround view monitor, power tailgate with auto close, smart power sliding doors, one-touch power doors and tailgate, eight-way power driver’s seat, auto up/down windows, electrochromic mirror, Safe Exit Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist.

Top of the range Carnival Platinum adds electronic shift by wire, 19-inch black alloy wheels, 12-speaker Bose sound system, rear occupant alert, heated steering wheel, wireless charger, paddle shifters, dual tilting and sliding sunroof, eight-way integrated memory seats with four-way lumbar support and rear heated seats, ventilated front seats, LED interior lamps and second and third row sunshade blind.

Our test car was the Kia Carnival SLi turbo-diesel.

Compared with the outgoing Carnival the new one has a shorter front overhang, with the base of the A-pillar moved backwards to create a longer bonnet. Its increased wheelbase contributes to greater space throughout the cabin.

The shape has moved closer to a stylish SUV-like profile, particularly in the shape of the side and front from the C-pillar forward.

A key design highlight is the “island roof” design with blacked-out A- and B-pillars beneath a body-coloured roof. The C-pillar features a chrome fin with a subtle diamond pattern.

It’s extra-large inside, with seating for eight in a two:three:three arrangement. There’s plenty of legroom in the front and mid rows, with good width in all but the centre/middle seat and even that one is better than average for this vehicle type.

The middle seat in the second-row folds flat to give what you could call a table; it has drink holders and a slip reduction facing. Access the centre row is simple thanks to a wide opening through the rear sliding doors. Getting into the rears will be simple for kids but grandad and grandma may struggle. Then again, the kids would much rather be back there well removed from dad and mum…

Luggage space seems to go on forever when only two rows of seats are in use. It’s obviously shorter when the rearmost seats are in use – but that’s largely compensated for with the added depth in the area made available when the rear seats are up.

The infotainment system can connect two smartphones via Bluetooth at the same time, enabling separate phones to be used for phone calls or media. It will allow personalised profiles for various drivers to download individual preferences for AVN and cluster settings.

A choice between a 3.5-litre V6 petrol (216kW / 355Nm) and a 2.2-litre CRDI diesel (148kW /440Nm). Both drive the front wheels through a Kia-developed eight-speed automatic.

Kia’s “Level 2” autonomous driving technology, Smart Cruise Control, controls acceleration and braking depending on the vehicles in front. Using front view camera and front radar, it helps maintain a set distance and speed from the vehicle ahead while Lane Follow Assist helps centre the vehicle in its lane while driving. In addition, it features a Rear-View Monitor and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist.

The Carnival is fitted with seven airbags, as well as electronic safety systems so you don’t need to use the airbags.

All models are equipped as standard with Kia’s Vehicle Stability Management and Electronic Stability Control, helping drivers maintain control under braking and cornering.

A handy feature on a vehicle of this length are rear parking sensors that sound if you are reversing towards what you can’t see yet.

Autonomous emergency braking is standard as is lane departure warning, which monitors road markings and alerts you if you begin to drift out of your lane. Fortunately, this isn’t overly aggressive, more a reminder to pay attention than trying to take over the steering.

A range of noise, vibration and harshness measures make for relaxed motoring.

As it has been doing for many years now Kia Australia’s local tuning team has tuned the ride and handling to suit Australia’s road conditions and driver preferences.

A comprehensive array of sound-deadening and insulating measures ensures the new model is one of the quietest and most refined of its type on the road. There are new insulation materials around all four wheel-arches, a full underbody cover to reduce wind and road noise, and dense insulation between the engine bay and cabin.

However, the diesel is noisier than we expected when worked hard and when accelerated with vigour off the line.

This is a large vehicle at just over five metres long so was a tight fit in length in some shopping centre carparks we used.

Who says the family has to be transported in something that looks like a van with windows? Kia Carnival has plenty of style inside and out, excellent interior room and decent performance. And don’t forget what is Kia’s most impressive feature – a seven-year warranty.


S petrol: $46,880
Si petrol: $52,380
SLi petrol: $56,880
Platinum petrol: $64,680
S diesel: $48,880
Si diesel: $54,380
SLi diesel: $58,880
Platinum diesel: $66,680
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Kia dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Kia Carnival SLi 2.2-litre turbo-diesel four-door people mover)

Capacity: 2.151 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 148 kW @ 3800 rpm
Maximum Torque: 440 Nm @ 1750 rpm
Fuel Type: Diesel
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 6.5 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 170 g/km

DRIVELINE: Eight-speed automatic

Length: 5155 mm
Wheelbase: 3090 mm
Width: 1995 mm
Height: 1775 mm
Turning Circle: 11.7 metres
Kerb Mass: 2134 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 72 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc

Seven years / Unlimited kilometres

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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