IF you aren’t overly status conscious and would rather opt for practicality over what others think about you, consider rocking up to that next meeting in a Kia Carnival.
You may arrive anonymously, but you’ll have a comfortable journey.
The latest version of this SUV has been given a more aggressive gangsta look. Kia is calling it a Grand Utility Vehicle and to some extent, it does live up to the hype.
There is some attempt to add bling to a box, and Kia has done a reasonable job in elevating the look and feel of this 7- or 8-seater that is versatile when it comes to arranging passenger seating in the back rows. You can turn seats around to face each other, or remove one row and stretch out in this 5.2m vehicle.
There are ventilated and massage chairs to prep you for your journey.
This is a beast of a vehicle with a much less boxy feel than many of the big people movers currently on the road, and it won’t stress your wallet.
The 2.2 litre Smartstream diesel engine whips up around 150kW of power, and while that may not seem a lot for such a big machine, its 440Nm of torque kicks in before the needle hits 2,000rpm. So, it’s a good wallop of power to gallop off happily.
The earlier models of the Carnival — it was first introduced in 1998 — were utilitarian vans. Not very attractive, and useful for soccer moms who might want to keep things at a functional level. Despite that mundane positioning the Carnival sold more than two million units globally.
Appealing New Look
But with this fourth-generation model, the styling has been laid on thick and heavy. Time for a heavy facelift and body contouring.
Its tiger-nose front spreads across the face of the car, incorporating the LED daytime running lights, headlamps and grille, the ensemble creating a slightly menacing look. But it’s good to exhibit some attitude, especially if you’re essentially purely for transportation.
From satin chrome embossing inside and outside, easy access through the power doors, and a crisp display to activate the various safety features on board, this is a vehicle you wouldn’t mind being driven around in.
The dual sun roofs let in light as much as allows you to lie back and watch the clouds.
The trim options on the test drive unit are basic black and are designed for comfort, but there are other colours available.
You can tip the seats to get to the third row, or you could just opt for two seats at the back and luxuriate in the space and the independent air-conditioning control and USB connectors to focus on your smart device.
These luxe seats offer adjustable back-, arm- and leg-rests and have seat ventilation.
But the Carnival is also quite enjoyable to drive. Despite its length, it handles like a regular car and doesn’t navigate in any undue fashion. Visual and audio aids alert you to potential hazards.
The 12.3″ touchscreen infotainment display offers a lot of area to poke at — and smudge. Wireless charging and wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are expected features these days.
So, instead of the usual towkay sedan, you might want to rock up in the Carnival, retailing from *$205,999 to *$211,999 depending on the seating configuration.
Kia Carnival RATING
*Please reconfirm price with dealer.
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