Kia Carnival review: It’s Carnival time

Before we get into the thick of this review, you should know that the Kia Carnival is not a direct rival to the Toyota Innova Crysta. The Carnival is a larger, more powerful and premium MPV, whose prices will start where the Innova range tops off. In a sense, Kia’s MPV is meant for buyers who want something luxurious, but have had to settle for an Innova for lack of alternatives.

Buyers will have the option of choosing between seven (2+2+3 layout), eight (2+3+3 layout) and nine seats (a four-row 2+2+2+3 layout). The seven-seater will be available in all three trims (Premium, Prestige and Limousine), with the eight- and nine-seat versions available in Premium and Prestige, respectively. There is only one engine-gearbox combination — a 2.2-litre BS-VI diesel mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Kia Carnival review: It’s Carnival time

The Carnival’s silhouette is traditional MPV, but the imposing grille, large headlamps, unique ice-cube-like fog lights and a skid plate up front add a premium feel. While the massive 3,060mm wheelbase remains a focal point, the pronounced shoulder line, pinched effect for the third-row windows and sleek 18-inch alloys uplift its profile. The long rear overhang leads into an upright tail that is embellished with a roof spoiler, smart-looking tail-lamps and a skid plate. Importantly, unlike the rear-wheel-drive, ladder-frame Innova, the Carnival uses a space-efficient front-wheel-drive monocoque construction.

There is considerable room inside, accentuated by the large windshield and glasshouse. Fit and finish are German-car good. The high-set, 8.0-inch touchscreen and centre console buttons are easy to reach and access. Front-seat comfort is also good; and occupants will find it easy to get in and out.

Access to the rear section is via standard powered sliding doors, operated via door handles, overhead controls (up front) or the key fob. While the doors open wide, getting to the rear rows entails a bit of a climb. The grab handle on the B-pillar does help, but older occupants won’t find it the easiest ingress.

Kia Carnival review: It’s Carnival time

The reclinable middle-row captain’s seats on the seven-seat Limousine can be slid back to maximise legroom, and features fold-out leg rests. The Nappa leather-upholstered seats are plush and there are also two 10.1-inch rear touchscreens with screen mirroring, HDMI and internet (via mobile hotspot). A 220V two-pin plug point at the rear console (exclusive to the India-spec model) makes it possible to connect larger devices too.

While it is a genuinely luxurious experience, with the leg rests at full extension, our feet inevitably touched the seats in front. This does highlight the absence of a mechanism that allows the rear passenger to slide the front seats forward.

Access to the third and/or fourth row seats depends on the version. Seven- and/or eight-seat Premium and Prestige variants get ‘stand-up’ second-row seats that open up to create a large cavity you can walk through. The nine-seat Prestiges and the seven-seat Limousine trims require rear-seat occupants to walk to their seats via the central passageway.

Kia Carnival review: It’s Carnival time

The Limousine variant’s third row gets sliding and recline functions. However, the seating position is knees-up, and headroom is just adequate. However, there’s enough shoulder room for three average-sized adults to sit in relative comfort.

With all seats in place and the third row at its rearmost, the seven-seater can comfortably hold two large suitcases. More space can be created by either sliding the seats forward and/or folding the flat-folding third-row seat.

In the nine-seater, the second- and third-row captain’s chairs get reclinable backrests, adjustable armrests, and a sliding function. The third-row seating position is a bit too knees-up and the cramped fourth row is best for occasional use. With all four rows up, there is virtually no space for luggage, although folding the single-piece last row does make enough space.

The Carnival scores well on in-cabin storage — the main glovebox is supplemented by a small storage bay, door pockets, and storage under the centre armrest. There are cupholders for each of the seats at the back, as well as a 12V outlet in the boot.

The Carnival is quite well-kitted; even base trims come with dual airbags, rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera, auto-projector headlights, cruise control, three-zone climate control, keyless entry and a 8.0-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Kia Carnival review: It’s Carnival time

The Prestige trim adds LED lights, a powered tailgate and a host of safety features, while the fully-loaded variant gets Nappa-leather upholstery, a rear-seat entertainment system, a powered driver’s seat, ventilated seats, on-board navigation, an eight-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, and Kia’s UVO connected tech with 37 features. Also unique to the Limousine is an on-board air purifier.

Power comes from an easy-going 2.2-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-diesel making 200hp and 440Nm of torque. Still, it’s not punchy. The 8-speed torque converter auto isn’t lightning quick either, as there’s a mild pause in kickdown acceleration. However, the engine and gearbox are well in tune for everyday use. The tyres help to filter out sharp edges and ruts.

In terms of high-speed manners, it drives with confidence and you get a good sense of control at the wheel. That said, it’s not meant for quick direction changes, as there’s a lot of MPV behind the driver.

On wavy surfaces, you’ll also note the softness to its suspension setup at the rear. The ride isn’t exactly floaty, but rear passengers will move around. On the plus side, low-speed bump absorption is really good.

Its size could also be a point of contention in congested cities. A 5.8m turning radius means manoeuvring into a tight parking spot isn’t the easiest. The steering is easy enough to twirl though.

Kia will announce the Carnival prices at Auto Expo 2020 in early February — expect an aggressive price tag in the ₹26-35 lakh (estimated, ex-showroom) band.

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Printable version | May 12, 2021 12:02:44 PM |

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