SUV’s appear to have taken over the passenger moving market, to the detriment of station wagons and dedicated peoplemovers (Tarago, anyone?). Kia, however, continues to evolve and refine its Carnival (or Sedona in some non Australian markets) and it’s now one of the most well featured and family friendly SUV competitors around. A Wheel Thing got aquainted with the $61K diesel engined Carnival Platinum and came away more than a little impressed.Kia’s design team have done the remarkable; they have taken a box and made it not only attractive, but pretty. Although it looks like a box with a snout in profile, there’s enough subtle curves to have you thinking it’s smooth, rounded, not fat and edgy. The design of the tail lights goes a long way to helping that perception, with gently smoothed off edges, the now familiar neon light look at night that Kia has for them, plus the swooping eagle eye headlight and LED driving lights (which give a seriously bad arsed impression from a distance), with the Platinum getting halogen glode lights in each front corner.Kia’s pulled out the stops with the tech; on the keyfob and in two other locations, there’s buttons for there’s remote powered sliding doors. Yes, powered sliding doors. In an overhead position in the cockpit, ala an aircraft, and in the column where the leading edge of the doors meet the cabin are where the buttons lay and they genuinely make entry and exit so much easier. There did appear to be a glitch, in that when the doors were opening before the car started, they would then close upon ignition being engaged. It goes without saying that the rear door is also powered.
Driving wise there’s Blind Spot Detection, Forward Collision Avoidance, Lane Departure Warning System, Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Hill Start Assist Control plus there’s LED cabin lighting, Blutooth music streaming, Smart Cruise Control, DVD player (dash only, oddly, as there’s no glass roof to stop a roof mounted screen) and tri-zone aircon, with the front being dual and with separate controls for the rest of the vehicle. Toss in a 360 degree camera system and an LED rear cabin light that doubles as a torch and it’s clear just how smartly thought out this family oriented vehicle is.
Motorvation comes from a 2.2L diesel, delivering a thumping 440 torques from 1750 to 2750 revs, neccessary for a 2092 kilo (dry) vehicle. Consumption figures are reflected in that, with a Urban figure (its natural environment) of 9.7 litres of the good oil for every 100 kilometres. Combined and Highway are quoted as 7.7L/100 km and 6.4L/100 km. From an 80 litre tank it’s more than conceivable one could drive from Melbourne to Sydney with plenty to spare. Consider, as well, a 2000 kilogram towing capacity.
Kia fitted 19 inch chrome plated alloys to the Platinum, with 235/55 rubber. Although seemingly a lowish profile, there was enough give in the sidewalls and a touch of extra compliance in the suspension to provide a welcomed plush ride. Body roll was negligible and there was more than enough grip but a touch of understeer in turns, perhaps more to do with the steering rack ratio. On certain road bumps that provide an ideal suspension test, the Carnival refused to bottom out and pogoed only briefly before settling and continuing to waft along.
There’s enough grunt through the front wheels for the Carnival to “chirp” when vigourously launched, even on dry tarmac. Bearing mind its weight, there’s plenty of stopping power, too, with 320 mm vented discs up front and 324 mm solids at the rear. The overall feel of the braking system is fantastic, with plenty of feel and a beautifully weighted pedal, shading its sibling, the Sorento Platinum. Acceleration with four aboard? Sir and Madam will not be disappointed. Except, maybe, with the somewhat archaic foot operated parking brake…
Sitting on a massive 3060 mm wheelbase, it comes as no surprise that there’s more than enough interior room. It’s a full house eight seater, with tilt and slide centre and second row rear seats. Cargo is considerable; even with all seats up there’s 960 L and 2220 L with the third row folded. Kia says there’s a mammoth 4022 litres with the rear seats folded and the centre row centre section removed.
Staying with the interior, it’s the high quality we’ve come to expect from Korea, with a pleasing colour mix inside, subtle variations in the texture of the plastics, 3 USB and 12V sockets, a seven inch colour dash display with mechanical dials, drink holders aplenty (ten!! cups and four bottles) although, oddly, a cooling vent in the glovebox but not, logically, in the uppermost storage which was big enough to hold a one litre or so bottle. There was a huge centre console storage locker as well, which also could have been fitted with cooling. There’s eight way power adjustment for the driver and passenger seats, heating and ventilation PLUS a heated steering wheel…
Satnav and infotainment is accessed via an eight inch touchscreen; the system itself is user friendly and includes adjustments for the sound system. Bluntly, it’s one of the worst A Wheel Thing has heard, lacking punch, depth, separation and sound stage.
The Kia Carnival Platinum tested was priced at $61485, with the Bright Silver paint a $695 option. As an option to SUV’s, it stands up admirably. In fact, it is, perhaps, the most complete family car that isn’t a SUV that you can buy. Given the Carnival won drive.com.au’s 2015 People Mover of the Year and has garnered accolades here and overseas, combined with the driving experience, the look and feel, the feature list (bar the audio quality), the incredibly flexible and capacious interior, and Kia’s unrivalled seven year warranty, put the Carnival Platinum firmly into your list of cars to consider.
Go here: Kia Carnival range for your information on the brilliant alternative to SUV’s.