There are cars for everyone. And then there are cars for a type of person. The Kia Carnival has always been the latter. It's a car for a person with a lot of people to move, and at that, it's always excelled.
For the rest of us though, the Carnival has regularly been too unrefined, too specialised, and yes, too big. For most Australians, the traditional SUV has been a more stylish and practical choice. That is, until now.
The 2016 Kia Carnival is the best people mover Kia has ever made. More than that though, it may be the first Carnival which is actually suitable for the average sized family and not just the extra large ones.
Want to finance a Kia Carnival? We may be able to help you to find a better car loan deal.
More is more. And in the Carnival you get more of everything.
The Carnival though takes everyday practicalities to the next level. You get no fewer than 10 cup holders, 4 bottle holders, and 1 centre console that fits another 6 bottles. That's potentially 20 drink holders, 20!
There are 3 USB ports for phones, tablets and other devices. As well as another 3 power sockets.
Even with all 8 seats up, you still get a huge 960 litres of storage. With 5 up you get 2220 litres. With only 2 up, you get a massive 4022 litres. If it were any larger, you'd be able to store another car, inside this car.
There's a handy fold-down mirror for keeping an on the kids in the back, stain/odour resistant upholstery, an 8 inch touchscreen infotainment display, 3 zone climate-control, a double-sized glove box. And that's in the standard model. The premium 'Platinum' version has even more gadgetry.
Combined, all of this makes the Carnival one of the most extensively-equipped family cars on the market today.
So it's big. But how does it drive?
In the past, Carnivals have been known for driving like what they are, a miniature school bus.
The 2016 Kia Carnival is different. It's quiet, it's comfortable, and the hydraulic-assist power steering is remarkably responsive. Sure, it's no sportscar, but it is a huge step up from previous models.
Kia touts their cars as being tuned for Australian conditions. That their car's dynamics and handling have been calibrated to our roads and conditions. And to their credit, it is more than just marketing guff.
You get a choice of two engines. A gutsy V6 or a more economical diesel. Both have plenty of power, 206kW and 147kW respectively, however, you will need it as even without passengers, the Carnival weighs more than 2 tonne.
The diesel engine is the preferred choice of most reviewers because it produces a more solid 440Nm of pulling power. Either way though, the engine performance is good, particularly for a vehicle of this size.
The six speed automatic gearbox is smooth, and you can manually change gears, should the need arise.
Overall, the Carnival delivers a solid driving experience, which could be the envy of many an SUV driver.
Unlike the 2015 model which had a 4 star rating, the 2016 Kia Carnival has a full 5 star ANCAP safety rating. And this finally brings the Carnival in line with other family cars of a similar price.
Purchase the base model and you get an impressive range of safety features.
As standard, you get dual frontal, side head, and side chest curtain airbags, and these airbags defend all three rows of seats. All models are also equipped with Emergency Brake Assist (EBA), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), and Emergency Brake Assist (EBA).
If you choose the more expensive Platinum variant, you get even more.
The Carnival Platinum features some of the very latest safety tech, including a 360-degree view camera, Forward Collision Warning System (FCWS) and Blind Spot Detection (BSD).
It's an impressive list of features. It means that in terms of safety, the Carnival can easily compete against other vehicles vying for the same family market.
The Carnival can hold its own against SUVs when comparing equipment, practicalities, safety features, and versatility. On price though, things are a little different.
The 2016 Kia Carnival starts at $41,490 excluding on road costs. That number goes up to $43,990 for the diesel variant. And if you want the premium Platinum model, you're looking at upwards of $58,290.
It's a fair price given the features on offer, the fit and finish, and the value of the overall package. But it's steep compared to similarly family-friendly SUVs, which often start at around $30,000 - granted these lower priced models are much less well equipped than the Carnival.
For someone who needs a big people mover with 8 seats, the Carnival is the best on the market. In fact, Drive recently went so far as to award it a Car of the Year Award in the Best People Mover category.
For a family that doesn't necessarily need that extra space, it's a big price jump.
Whether that price jump deters you will therefore depend on your circumstances, situation, and of course, your budget. The Carnival does still represent great value, however, it is more expensive than smaller but similarly practical options available.
Is it really an alternative to the family SUV?
With its long list of equipment as standard, extensive selection of safety features, and smooth, comfortable ride, the Carnival is a strong contender in the family vehicle market.
It's just like an SUV, but with more of everything, from seats to space to cup holders. You get all the luxuries and practicalities of an SUV, plus the advantages that a people mover provides.
The price will put the Carnival out of reach of some buyers. But if you have the budget, and you're after a big, practical, and versatile vehicle, one which has the potential to accommodate a growing family. Then, yes, the 2016 Kia Carnival is a genuine alternative to the traditional SUV.
Want to finance a Kia Carnival or other family vehicle?