2015 Kia Carnival Review and First Drive

by under Review on 27 Feb 2015 02:17:20 PM27 Feb 2015
FROM $41,490
Fuel Consumption
FROM 7.7L/100km

Modern Styling, Room for 8, Great interior


Steering feels light, lack of integrated entertainment for the kids, 4-star safety rating at launch (to be fixed by August)

The Kia Carnival has been a top seller for the Korean car marker for some time and the all-new 2015 Kia Carnival looks set to continue that tradition. First seen at the New York motor show in 2014 where Kia showed off the Carnival's updated technology, safety and style.


Kia Australia invited CarShowroom.com.au to the Gold Coast to sample the all-new 2015 Kia Carnival. Arriving at the same time as Severe Tropical Cyclone Marcia hit landfall, Kia couldn’t have picked worse condition to test their new 8-seater in. The rain was heavy and the roads soaked but Kia was confident that the all-new Carnival could handle the conditions.

Kia Carnival Overview

There are step changes in design and development then there is the new Kia Carnival.  The 3rd generation Kia Carnival has delivered a monumental step forward for the Korean brand.

The Kia Carnival is available in four model grades (S, Si, SLi and Platinum) with a choice of either a  3.3L GDi V6 petrol or an efficient 2.2L turbo diesel engine.

All models get a Smart Power Tailgate automatically opens when the key is ‘sensed’ near the tailgate. SLi and Platinum models get electric sliding doors, good old fashioned manual mode for the other grades in the line-up.  Si, SLi and Platinum grades come with an 8-inch TFT LCD touch screen with satellite navigation, rear view camera display and DVD player, entry level S grade gets a 4.3 inch colour TFT LCD. The usual host of other tech like power windows, bluetooth and USB ports come standard.


Kia Carnival Pricing and petrol Line-up:

Kia Carnival S  $41,490
Kia Carnival Si  $45,490
Kia Carnival SLi  $49,990
Kia Carnival Platinum $57,490

Kia Carnival Pricing and diesel Line-up:

Kia Carnival S  $43,990
Kia Carnival Si  $47,990
Kia Carnival SLi  $52,490
Kia Carnival Platinum $$59,990

Premium paint $695

Kia Carnival  Engine

Buyers have the choice between a powerful 3.3L GDi V6 petrol or an efficient 2.2L turbo diesel, both engines will be shared with all new 2015 Kia Sorento.

The 3.3-litre GDI petrol engine produces 206kW and 336Nm,fuel consumption is a claimed 11.6l/100kms, however on our drive route the trip computer said we had achieved 10.6l/100kms.


Kia have carried over the 2.2-litre diesel engine and have tweaked its performance, it now produces 147kW and 440Nm from 1,750 to 2,750 rpm.  Fuel consumption is a claimed 7.7l/100kms.

Both engines come with an ‘Active Eco’ drive mode. With Eco mode activated the onboard computer reprograms the transmission’s shift points, automatically adjusts engine power and limits the air condition output to improve fuel efficiency.

All four models are front wheel drive and matched to a six-speed automatic transmission.


Kia Carnival The Interior

Inside the all-new Kia Carnival is seating for eight, with each seat having a 3 point seat point. All models of the Kia Carnival have front-to-rear airbags it's only the range topping Platinum that gets lane departure warning, blind-spot warning, forward collision warning and high beam assist all of which have never been seen on a Carnival before.


Storage inside the Carnival is impressive there is 10 cup holders plus a large centre console storage, slide-open tray in the second row, and seat-back pockets.

The noise levels inside the Carnival have been reduced by 2.5dB thanks to new thicker soundproofing material throughout the vehicle which makes for a relaxing cabin environment.

The wheelbase has been increased by 40mm to 3,060mm that has allowed Kia to increase cabin space between the first and second-row seats. Whilst you can’t remove the 60/40-split third-row seats they do fold flat, luggage capacity is 960 litres with seats in place.  With the third row seats laid flat luggage capacity is increased to 2,220 litres and with the second and third rows folded and moved forward it’s a massive 4,022.

If you will only ever use the eighth seat every now again you can remove the second row’s centre seat.

Kia Carnival Exterior & Styling

The KIA Carnival is the last in the companies range have its styling overhauled by internationally-acclaimed designer Peter Schreyer.  Schreyer has done a wonderful job of updating the look with a very bold and distinctive styling, it has more of  an American flare than an understated European design.

The Kia Carnival is no shrinking violet measuring in at 5115mm length (-15mm), 1755mm in height (-55mm) and unchanged in width at width at 1985mm. Kerb weight has stayed about the same coming in at around 2.1 tonnes.


Kia has used SUV styling cues to make the Kia Carnival look less like a box on wheel. Upfront the tiger-nose grille is finished in a diamond pattern on the Platinum model whilst the SLi grade gets a chrome highlight on black bar design and the S and Si models featuring a black bar design.

At the rear of the Carnival you will find wide rear lamps, a broad metal tailgate and a glass-area that Kia says gives the Carnival more prominent ‘shoulders’.


Kia Carnival On The Road

On the drive route from the Gold Coast down to Byron Bay and back CarShowroom.com.au had the opportunity to drive the Kia Carnival Platinum petrol model.  With my wife and two CarShowroom juniors on board we set out to put the Carnival through its paces.

The electric slide doors made for easy entry and the wide open door space made it super easy to strap the children in to their booster seats. Jumping behind the wheel of the Kia Carnival we were set for our mini road trip.


We managed to sample the Carnival n a mixture of urban city streets, country roads and highway driving conditions.  As said at the start of the article Severe Tropical Cyclone Marcia had hit land fall causing heavy rain to close roads and cause traffic chaos. In all of this the Carnival never missed a beat, it felt planted on the road and when every we drove through large puddles of water it kept its footing and never once lost traction.

On the country roads out the back of the Gold Coast to Byron Bay the Carnival handled the hill climbs and steep descents with grace and poise seemingly unaware of its 2.1 tonne kerb weight.

We would have like a bit more feedback via the steering wheel when driving on the country roads but on the highway-driving route the steering was more than adequate.

Parking was made easy thanks to the rear camera and parking sensors, without these you would have struggled to parallel  park quickly.

Kia Carnival Challenges

The factory hydraulic steering was set for the American market, Kia Australia have tuned it for local conditions but it still feels a little light and lacks feedback.

It would be good to see a rear entertainment pack on the higher end models.


Kia Carnival Verdict

The Kia Carnival can lay claim to being one of the best people movers in the market today.  OK, there was a slight oversight with the rear seat belt warning that lead to the Carnival only getting a 4 star safety rating but Kia have already put system in place to fix that little problem and a 5-star rating should be achieved by August 2015.

The Kia Carnival is proof that Kia has come a long way, it proves that Kia can compete and beat their Japanese rivals and even show their European counterparts a thing or two.


The Kia connect program that offers capped price servicing, 7 Year road side assist and a 7 Year warranty equals worry free motoring.

The Kia Carnival is the model the will change what you thought you knew about Kia.

Kia Carnival Competition

Here is where the Kia Carnival really shines besides the updated Honda Odyssey (from $38,990) and the Citroen C4 Grand Picasso (from $44,990) the rest of the market is looking a little long in the tooth or expensive.

The other models worth considering is the Hyundai iMax (from $38,290) or maybe the Mercedes Benz Vito (from $49,990) but the level of technology is not on par with the Kia .  The Volkswagen Multivan (from $49,990) is also another van worth test-driving but again the Kia trumps it for tech.

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