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    Kia Carnival Road Test Review

    Authors Image

    Ajinkya Lad

    Kia Carnival Right Front Three Quarter


    Kia Carnival Right Front Three Quarter

    The MPV segment is growing by the day, and surprisingly, every carmaker has a unique offering at different price points. The Kia Carnival is no different, as it appeals to a discerning set of buyers looking for a premium MPV to upgrade from the Toyota Innova Crysta. It is available in seven, eight and nine seating configurations with a single diesel powertrain. And for this road test, we’ve driven the top-spec Limousine trim that’s only available as a seven-seater. We have done an in-depth analysis of how the Carnival performs in the real world along with facts and figures. Read on!

    Design and Style

    Kia Carnival Front view

    MPVs are typically boring to look at as they are designed to serve a purpose. But despite its humungous proportions, the Kia Carnival is anything but boring with its massive and imposing stance. The wide tigernose grille, sleek LED headlamps, ice cube LED fog lamps and a touch of chrome accents bring an air of elegance to the MPV.

    Kia Carnival Right Rear Three Quarter

    At over 5.1 meter long, the Carnival is longer than the Toyota Vellfire, and the van body-style is apparent from its profile. Nevertheless, the 18-inch chrome wheels, floating-roof effect and the slight kink at the C-pillar add flare to the sides. Lower trims get dual-tone alloys. The rear is devoid of any drama with the LED taillights and a subtle chrome highlight on the tailgate.

    Kia Carnival Left Side View


    Kia Carnival Dashboard

    Like its exteriors, the magnificence continues on the insides as well. The thoughtfully laid-out cabin comes with a top-notch fit and finish and material quality. You get soft plastics on the dash-top and Napa leather upholstery that elevates the premium feel a notch higher. The wider proportions mean one may require extra effort to access the glove-box or the passenger-side 12V socket, but for most part, the cabin remains ergonomic. The large glass area and the supportive 10-way electrically-adjustable driver seat offers a commanding view of the surroundings. But, the thick A-pillar obstructs view while cornering.

    Kia Carnival Infotainment System

    The crisp and intuitive eight-inch infotainment display is a size smaller, and we expected the Carnival to come with a 360-degree camera, which would’ve made it easier to park in tight spaces. It could also do with a colour driver information system (DIS), like the Kia Seltos. While the driver seat gets a cooling function, we would’ve expected the middle row seats to come with the ventilated feature, which would’ve been appreciated by chauffeur-driven customers.

    Kia Carnival Front Row Seats

    Otherwise, both the front and rear seats provide excellent support with enough and more leg and headroom. But the individual captain seats (with extendable leg rests) in the middle row will pamper the chauffer-driven folks with its multiple adjustments. The large electric sliding doors help getting in and out of the car, but the tall floor and the 79mm ingress height means you have to hop inside the cabin.

    Kia Carnival Second Row Seats

    You also get a 220V AC two-pin charging dock and AC controls for the second-row passengers. However, a centrally-placed climate control unit would’ve improved accessibility for both the middle row occupants. The lower-placed last-row seats lack under-thigh support, and fitting-in three adults would be bit of a squeeze. However, seating two passengers for short distance shouldn't be an issue. Besides the convenience offered by the many cubbies, cup holders and fast-charging USB ports, what comes as a delight is that you get retractable sun curtains in the second and third rows.

    Kia Carnival Third Row Seats

    Even with the third-row up, the Carnival has a boot space of 540 litres. Tumble these ‘sinking seats’ down and it opens up a huge cargo area of 1624 litres. It also gets multiple towing hooks and a 12V 180Watt charging socket to hold or charge your belongings.

    Kia Carnival Bootspace Rear Seat Folded

    Safety and Equipment

    Kia Carnival Right Steering Mounted Controls

    This top-spec Kia Carnival Limousine trim is loaded with safety kit and features to the brim. Besides the six airbags and ABS with EBD, features like ESC, tyre pressure monitoring system and roll-over mitigation increase safety while driving. On the other hand, features like hill start assist and traction control help getting out of tricky situations.

    Kia Carnival Dashboard Switches AC Controls

    In terms of comfort and convenience features, it gets a three-zone climate control, dual sunroof, an eight-speaker Harmon Kardon music system, auto headlamps, push-button start-stop, front and rear parking with rear-view camera, and cruise control. But, the convenience is further amplified by features like a smart air-purifier, wireless charging, smart powered tailgate and the twin 10.1-inch rear-seat entertainment screens. The Carnival also comes enabled with Kia’s UVO connected car features.

    Kia Carnival Front Seat Headrest-Mounted Display

    Engine, Performance and Braking

    Kia Carnival Left Front Three Quarter

    The Kia Carnival is available with a single powertrain – a 197bhp 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel motor that is paired to an eight-speed torque converter automatic. The engine is refined and you’ll barely hear any diesel clatter at idle or on the move. There is ample low-end torque available, and the linear power delivery and well-controlled turbolag helps ambling at slow city speeds. Out on the highway, a bulk of the 440Nm of torque is available in the mid-range that allows the MPV to cruise at 120kmph with the engine spinning under 2000rpm. This helped the MPV to cover the 0-100kmph sprint in 10.80s, which is exceptional for an MPV that weighs 2240kg. In fact we also experienced some torque steer in the instance of a sudden acceleration.

    Kia Carnival Engine Shot

    The Carnival has exceptional straight-line stability, which makes it an able long-distance tourer. The eight-speed transmission offers smooth and precise shifts, and you’ll barely notice the shift-shock. For a torque converter, it upshifts quickly and we never found it to be confused or searching for gears. It managed the 20-80kmph roll-on acceleration test in 6.01s, while the 40-100kmph kick down was achieved in 8.02s. This speaks a lot about the engine’s tractability.

    Kia Carnival Right Front Three Quarter

    The Carnival is equipped with disc brakes all around to put this 2.2 tonne car to stops. While the brakes lack outright bite, they offer good progression, bringing the MPV to a halt from 100kmph in 2.9s while only covering 41.06 metres.

    Kia Carnival Right Side View

    Ride and Handling

    Kia Carnival Right Rear Three Quarter

    In terms of ride, the Carnival offers a pliant and comfortable low-speed ride. The soft suspension absorbs bumps and sharp-edged potholes with ease, but you will notice a slight jiggle as the road transforms from bad to worse. And as the speeds increase, the ride tends to get neutral. However, long patches of wavy highways and section joints unsettle the suspension, which induces the vertical pitching.

    Kia Carnival Dashboard

    Having said that, due to the Carnival's large dimensions, you have to be extra careful while parking in a tight spot, or even while darting through traffic. Again, the steering feels heavy at slow speeds and as speeds rise, it starts feeling too light to the point where you feel nervous; something that catches you off-guard. Also, as you take a long corner, the MPV tends to understeer if you are too enthusiastic with your inputs.

    Kia Carnival Left Front Three Quarter

    Price and Fuel Economy

    Kia Carnival Left Front Three Quarter

    In our real-world test, the Carnival delivered a fuel economy of 9.2kmpl in the city, and 12.82kmpl on the highway, with an average fuel efficiency of 11.01kmpl. These figures are acceptable for an MPV that measures over 2.2 tons. As far as pricing is concerned, the Premium seven-seater costs Rs 24.95 lakh, while the Premium eight-seater retails at 25.15 lakh. The Prestige trims are priced at Rs 28.95 lakh and Rs 29.95 lakh, respectively, for the seven and nine-seater versions. This top-spec Limousine variant that we drove, retails at Rs 33.95 lakh (all prices are ex-showroom India).


    Kia Carnival Left Front Three Quarter

    The Kia Carnival is a swanky premium MPV that offers top-notch interior quality, spacious cabin and a compliant ride. It is also loaded with tons of features that make it all the more lucrative. Then, there’s the punchy engine and the convenience of an automatic. And finally, it is backed with Kia’s decent network of 265 dealerships across the country. Sure, the enormous proportion may make it cumbersome in the city, and we would have appreciated more features like electrically-adjustable middle seats, 360-degree camera and automatic wiper. But the practicality it offers is unmatched. It will attract prospects that are looking to upgrade from the Innova Crysta or the tourism industry to serve their high-class clients.

    Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi


    CAR NAMEKia Carnival
    VariantLimousine 7 Seater
    InstallationFWD, transverse
    Displacement4 cyls, 2199cc
    Power197bhp at 3800rpm
    Torque440Nm at 1750rpm
    Power to weight87.95bhp per tonne
    Torque to weight196.43Nm per tonne
    Gearbox8-speed Torque Converter Automatic
    Kerb weight (measured)2240kg
    Tyres235 / 60 R18
    SpareSpace Saver
    TypeRack and pinion
    Type of assistElectric
    Turning circle11.6 metres

    Test Data

    CAR NAMEKia Carnival
    VariantLimousine 7 Seater
    20-80kmph in 3rd gear (kickdown)6.01s
    40-100kmph in 4th gear (kickdown)8.02s
    100-0kmph2.90s, 41.06m
    80-0kmph2.19s, 24.63m
    Tank size60 litres
    Shoulder room1520mm
    Backrest height640mm
    Seat base length510mm
    Ideal legroom880mm
    Shoulder room1500mm
    Seat base length490mm
    Backrest height650mm
    Third Row
    Legroom (Max/Min)910/600
    Shoulder Room1490/1280
    Seat base length410
    Backrest height540
    Boot540 litres
    Loading lip height660mm
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