In the full sized MPV segment, Toyota Innova (now Crysta) remains the undisputed champion. Many have tried to shake the Innova but in vain. Now the Korean car brand Kia is all set with the their Innova rival – the Kia Carnival for our market. Kia has had a rather grand entry into the Indian market with the Seltos selling in huge numbers so far and now looking to extend this picture perfect entry with the Kia Carnival. We have driven the latest Korean MPV Kia Carnival in Hyderabad for this exclusive and extensive road test review. Read on to find out how the Kia Carnival fares and if it has the potential to set a new benchmark.
Food for thought
Kia Motors introduced the Carnival in 1998 so this makes it its third generation. The Carnival is also sold as the Sedona in some markets by Kia Motors. In the United States, the Kia Carnival was also badged as the Hyundai Entourage for some years. The Carnival was also sold as the VQ in China and as the Naza Ria in Malaysia. The latest generation of the Carnival was first seen at the 2014 New York Motor Show. Kia offers upto 7 years warranty on the Carnival in Australia where it is a big seller and was the first car model to offer that.
Design and Interiors
In the looks department, the Kia Carnival is definitely a looker. It has a very urban and elegant feel to it. At the front, you’ll see Kia’s signature ‘Tiger nose’ grille with aesthetically crafted LED headlamps and ice cube shaped fog lamps placed on the front bumper. One thing that may peak buyers interest are the rear electric sliding doors. Moving in and out of the car cannot get easier – with a touch a button one can effortlessly get in and out of the car even in cramped parking spots. The spluttering 18-inch alloy wheels give this MPV a distinct character.
When we now move into the car, one undeniable thing is the space it offers. The car has a very premium vibe with piano inserts on the dashboard and steering wheel. The tri-zone climate control allows passengers in any and every row to adjust and control the aircon. The space on offer is more than enough in our opinion. The front and second row seats are most comfortable and there’s adequate under-thigh support, leg room, headroom and shoulder room. While the third row is spacious enough to accommodate fully grown adults, it lacks the required under thigh support making the seats slightly uncomfortable.
The driver’s seat comes equipped with lumbar support and ventilation function with an 8-way adjustable seat. Another cool feature is the dual sunroof which unveils a slice of the sky and sun/ moon to passengers in every row. The Kia Carnival comes with versatile seating configuration to make room for anyone and anything i.e. a 7-seater with VIP seats, an 8-seater and the 9-seater (6+3). The middle row VIP seats also extend themselves and turn into premium business class like seats when you just need that extra comfort pampering while travel.
The MPV comes with the 8-speaker Harman Kardon sound system with an 8 inch touchscreen infotainment display in the front and two individual 10.1 inch touchscreen displays for the second row. These have all the functionalities to pair with Android and Apple devices. It’s also future ready when Android Auto and Apple CarPlay launch wireless connectivity. To make things easier the Carnival also features a wireless charger to charge your mobile phones. Also, the car comes equipped with a 220v plug point that can charge a laptop in addition to the multiple USB ports.
Engine, Transmission, Safety & Drive
The Kia Carnival comes powered with a rather modest 2.2L diesel engine which pushes out a healthy 200PS at 3800RPM and churns out a meaty 440NM of torque between 1500-2750RPM and is mated to an 8-Speed Sportsmatic Transmission. Kia has left no stone unturned when it comes to safety of Carnivals occupants – offering six airbags, anti-lock brakes with EBD, Electronic stability control, hill start assist, front and rear parking sensors and reversing camera.
With extravagant dimensions almost as big as the Mercedes V40 you’ll think that the engine might underperform. But, that’s not the case, in fact, the engine performed way above our expectations. The 440 Nm torque is made available from as low as 1500rpm all the way up to 2750rpm. The MPV is needless to say a heavy car. Having said that, there is sufficient feedback from the steering wheel which also weighs up well on higher speeds which is important in a car of this size. For daily commute, the gear box and engine will be in line with your needs.
For highway travels, the car drives with a good sense of control. You’ll be reminded on the car’s size and stature when you need to take quick turns. The ride quality is on par with the best that the industry has to offer with Macpherson strut and coil springs doing duty up front and the multi-link rear suspension working hard to keep its passengers inside the cabin away from almost all the harshness of the bad roads our country has to offer.
The Kia Carnival has impressed us on all levels. It has a wide range of features, the best one being when you approach the car from the rear with all the groceries and the boot opens without any kicking or waving of any sort. The Carnival is stylish and elegant, has more than enough space on offer and also comes with a good driving experience. All in all, a great car with loads of value to offer to its customers.
Kia’s second launch could prove to create a dent in its competition’s market share despite being hinted to be priced slightly higher than its competition. We are certain that the Carnival will appeal to a wide customer base looking for options in the MPV space with opulence and utility both on offer.