2019 Kia Carnival Platinum.Source:Supplied
Kia’s Carnival dominates the people-mover segment, accounting for more than 50 per cent of sales. It’s affordable, well-specified, safe and entirely practical, so when Kia updated the model its dominance was assured.
Prices have crept up but Kia’s seven-year warranty and capped price servicing hold great sway among savvy parents. Rental companies love the cheap entry grade and private buyers favour the likes of this fruit-filled Platinum. Our family tests the range-topper with petrol V6.
The Kia Carnival is the king of people movers.Source:Supplied
I don’t have a minibus licence.
Stop it. It’s a people-mover, the bestseller in Australia by miles. Because it’s the best.
Hang on. The man I married loves sports cars, racing cars and custom bikes — and gets excited about a people-mover?
I appreciate vehicles that are wonderfully fit for purpose. The Carnival moves eight people or shed-loads of kit better than anything else for the money.
How much money?
The basic one is $45,990, or $48,490 with the more economical diesel. We’ve got the range-topping Platinum with petrol V6 and oodles of toys, costing $63,790. All are drive-away prices.
I can get some pretty fancy large SUVs for about $60,000, and they look so much better.
Only seven seats, maximum.
Who needs eight seats?
Busy breeders. They’re out there. Plus, seven-seat SUVs typically have terrible third-row space. The Carnival has genuine spacious seating for three across the back, especially if they’re kids or teenagers.
That’s why it looks massive. Very American with a big flat nose, a body that goes on for days and blingy alloys.
The Carnival has seating for eight.Source:Supplied
Welcome to business class.
Ooh, cream leather. Many cows gave their lives to furnish this cabin. I’ve been in smaller aircraft hangars.
It’s mainly artificial leather. And yes, it’s a whopper inside. Three rows of seats and the middle ones slide effortlessly on runners to customise who gets what legroom. Seats recline and you can properly stretch out for luxury travel.
Heated and ventilated captain’s chairs up front, mighty headroom, soft-touch plastics, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto via the touchscreen and a cooled glove box. I’m coming around to this big bus.
Electric sliding doors are a huge advantage on people-movers. Not only is access simple but what kid doesn’t enjoy pressing the buttons to open and close them? Kept ours entertained for hours. When stationary.
The Kia is well appointed with all the mod-cons.Source:Supplied
I like how you sit SUV-high, it cruises well but you can’t escape how big it feels on the road. Great for the highway, not so for the city commute.
Radar cruise control’s excellent but lane keep assist got too beepy for my liking. It’s easy to turn off, thankfully.
It does feel very safe with the latest technology warning me of everything but yes, it could get distracting. I ignored the beeps by flooring the throttle. Beastly engine, isn’t it?
Hardly beastly but it’s nice to have a petrol V6 doing the heavy lifting. The eight-speed auto gearbox fusses over gear choices. I’ve tried the four-cylinder turbo diesel Carnival too. It’s probably the smarter option as it averages 7.6L/100km versus the guzzling 10.8L of this V6 but costs $2500 more.
The back seat can sit three comfortably.Source:Supplied
I folded the rear seats down and slid the middle row forward. Wow. It’s like having three boots.
Forget the weekly shop, the annual shop fits.
If I were shopping for large house plants, kayaks or live cattle, the Carnival would be my pick.
Hands-free tailgate — that’s a must, as is the 360-degree camera. It’s a big old thing to negotiate in car parks.
The cargo space is enormous.Source:Supplied
Weekend away? It isn’t all-wheel drive so unsealed roads would be the limit. But with just two kids, that rear space means we could bring all four bikes, large tent and plenty of supplies.
Nailed it. As most people don’t use their large SUVs off-road anyway, the Carnival is arguably all you’d need. Space is an underappreciated luxury.
It was a joy — and a huge timesaver — being able to load bikes into the back without taking wheels off.
On twisty roads it didn’t do corners terribly well; it’s a bit soft and wallowy. Par for the course, to be fair, and its cruising comfort and quiet cabin compensate.
The Kia is absolutely massive.Source:Supplied
Having a Carnival is like dropping the kids off at playgroup. Just parked on the driveway they’d treat it like a giant climbing frame, making camp inside, exploring all the storage and endlessly opening the sliding doors. I watched with coffee in hand and smile on face.
Its five-star safety, seven-year warranty, active safety kit and curtain airbags to all three rows are family car wins. Tri-zone climate control with roof air vents works well, while the centre row gets USB points, sun shades, proper armrests and giant windows.
It’s not claustrophobic in the third row seats either. My ideal upgrade? A roof-mounted DVD screen for long journeys. Just like a real luxury coach.
I struggle to think of anything more practical. I’d love one of these and would soon forget that people-movers look naff. Once you live with a Carnival, it’s hard to go back to normal cars. If I bought one, I’d go the mid-spec SLi: it’s $8000 cheaper and still has must-haves like power doors and leather seats.
I agree it’s untouchable for versatility, space and family life but it’s just too big and cumbersome for me. If I had five children I’d see the point — but I’m a snob and would go for a stylish SUV. Predictable, I know.
7 years/u’ltd km, $2428 for 5 years/75,000km
3.3-litre V6, 206kW/336Nm
5 stars, 6 airbags, AEB, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitor, lane keep assist, rear cross traffic alert, 360-degree camera, speed sign recognition