A road trip is best spent with family and friends. That’s precisely what we did in the new Kia Carnival (seen here in SX Limited guise), travelling along the picturesque Garden Route to Cape Town. This family-mover left a lasting impression.
Although somewhat boxy in design, the Carnival doesn’t look all that van-like, not least like some of its rivals. It cuts a dashing figure. The exterior styling features slim LED headlamps, striking daytime-running lights, and a more contemporary version of Kia’s ‘tiger nose’ grille. The taillamp cluster features a similarly stylish LED arrangement. Chrome detailing adds sophistication. The SX Limited is equipped with fashionable 19-inch wheels.
The interior is also less van-like. Opening the front or electrically sliding rear doors (via keyless entry) reveals a solidly constructed, leather-upholstered cabin. It feels premium. The 12.3-inch touch-enabled infotainment display featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is surrounded by gloss black trim.
Wireless smartphone charging, dual-zone climate control, and heated and ventilated front seats are included. Further convenience and safety items include a 360-degree camera system, which makes parking the seven-seater a cinch, ‘smart’ cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and lane-keep assist. Isofix anchorages are fitted to the middle chairs and rear bench. It’s a fuss-free task to attach child seats. An interior highlight, the windows opposite the middle seats can wind down, which is uncommon in this segment.
The cabin is spacious. Kia claims a luggage capacity of 1 139 litres when all seats are in position. Removing the second seats and stowing away the third row enhances this figure to 4 110 litres.
The driving position is also more car-like. However, the Carnival still affords its driver a commanding view of the road. The ‘Smartstream’ turbodiesel engine is punchy and efficient. The 2.2-litre four-cylinder produces 148 kW and 440 Nm and sips a claimed 6.8 L/100 km, allowing for a range of 1 059 km on a full tank. This is thanks to the engine’s refinement and smooth eight-speed automatic transmission.
It’s arguably the ideal family and road-trip vehicle. Priced at R999 995, which includes a six-year/90 000 km maintenance plan and five-year/unlimited km warranty, the second-to-top-tier variant is the model to purchase.