Cover Photo by Aaron Smith
The modern age of the car market in Australia see’s the most popular car type as the SUV that comes in all shapes and sizes. However, something that is often over looked is people movers (vans) because they are not known to be cool, until now.
The Kia Carnival Platinum is the top of the range in the Carnival list and carries up to eight people in comfort and style, with an airy and inviting cabin that exhibits plenty of clever details. There is also a surprising amount of space for luggage that doesn’t compromise seat space.
There are two options when it comes to engines – 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel and the 3.3-litre petrol V6, which is the one we tested.
The Carnivals 3.3-litre GDI produces 206kW and 336Nm ensuring a relaxed drive even with a full load. Now linked to the standard eight-speed automatic gearbox, the average fuel use is around 10.8 litres/100km officially and something we could match, even with short trips.
The Carnival received a well-deserved upgrade in May of 2019 and with it the ride and handling characteristics were examined and fine-tuned by KMAu’s local ride and handling team to ensure the most suitable package for Australian families.
Whatever magic the people at Kia Australia do with handling makes what could be a lump and bore to drive, fun and a little exciting when getting behind the wheel. The thought of lugging family and friends around in a van didn’t raise the eyebrows, but when loaded up the engine has plenty of power and the Carnival drives like an SUV on steroids.
Kia has kept those up front in mind when the Carnival went through the design channels. This becomes clear the more you drive it as the large doors and lounge like seats give plenty of comfort. There is lots of glass, and almost unimpeded forward vision give the feel of loads of room and a safe personal space.
The dash is a model of clarity, boosting familiarity and confident when you look at it and gives everything you need when driving the Carnival. Decent size instrument dials, large and logically placed switchgear, excellent ventilation, and more storage compartments and receptacles than most families will ever need, make the Kia feel intuitive to operate, even if the central touchscreen does require a steady finger once you’re on the move.
While up front is having fun behind the wheel, what is it really like for those who are in the back two rows? First of all the Platinum offers two side doors and they are fully electric. None of this door opening with your hands anymore…
Sliding rear side-doors reveal huge openings that make access to a Carnival’s middle and third seat-rows easy. The middle-row trio of seats offer versatility at a level rare in any vehicle.
Both outboard seats slide and recline, boosting comfort considerably, while all three seats can be removed individually. The centre-seat can also double up as a table or armrest, complete with cupholders and other amenities.
The outside middle row of seats also fold forward and up in concertina fashion, opening a sizeable hole behind the driver that makes it almost a joy for people of most shapes to access the third row.
Though cushions might be a tad flat under thigh, the rearmost seats are sufficiently spacious for most folk under about 180cm tall. Measuring almost two metres across, these two seats can easily support three abreast, but shoulder space for three big people could be a bit of a squeeze.
There is heaps of legroom and head room, backed up by ample vision, face-level ventilation outlets, head rests, lighting, and storage, for all, make travelling in the rear compartments no trial. No SUV can compete with a purpose-built people mover.
So now that your passengers are happy and enjoying the ride, the true driving test begins. The steering turns freely and without much effort at all, the throttle is well modulated so as to not be jerky in traffic, the transmission shifts smoothly and the brakes are effective but not overly touchy.
Now although the fuel economy is good, the Carnival is a heavy car and you will pay a price for its sparkling response to your heavy right foot.
The Carnival Platinum has a decent set of 19 inch alloy wheels with a low profile tyre. While this helps handling the ride may be a little rougher than an SUV cousin.
The Carnival has the comforting assurance of a range of standard active safety technologies, including Autonomous Emergency Braking, six airbags (front to rear coverage), eight three-point seat belts, Electronic Stability Control (incorporating ABS, TCS, Hill Start Assist, Brake Assist, Cornering Brake Control and Roll Over Mitigation) and rear parking sensors.
Standard safety features also include Lane Departure Warning, Smart Cruise Control and Electronic Parking Brake. For Platinum owners the suite of active safety features expands even further with BSD (Blind-Spot Detection); LCA (Lane Change Assist), which alerts the driver to vehicles approaching from the rear at high speeds in neighbouring lanes; HBA (High Beam Assist) and RCTA (Rear Cross-Traffic Alert), which warns against other cars driving behind the Carnival in car parks.
Car and Bike News Opinion
Being a people mover it is not something that I ever thought would be enjoyable to drive, nice to look at and something happy to pick up my friends in. But the Carnival Platinum is a van you can be very pleases to see in your driveway and for taking on adventures on the weekend.
This is not a car for everyone as it won’t be something the singles will buy to cruise the streets. However it is a well worth it family car and one to consider when looking to have comfort, room and great looks.
The 3.3-litre GDI
Platinum $60,290 (model tested)
The 2.2-litre CRDI pricing is:
Check local dealer for pricing.