Kia Carnival - Moving people in comfort
I recently got the opportunity to drive the Kia Caren, an amply equipped seven-seater, which managed the rigours of our road quite well. The challenge was the tight space when fully occupied. So, this time around, I went for its larger brother, the Kia Carnival, which, in some markets, is referred to as the Kia Sedona.
From the jump, it proudly proclaims its ability to carry 11 persons, with the dealership plastering an image of a family of 11 members on the side. Apart from the tiger-nose grille at the front, it looks like a beefy minivan with a width that's larger than most.
To find out about its practicality and handling, I decided to take it to Ocho Rios via the North-South Highway. First, the 2.2 litre turbo engine handled the various inclined and declined gradients effortlessly even with seven persons in the vehicle. If I needed instant power, I simply switched the gear lever over to tiptronic to get better performance out of the eight-speed automatic transmission. Given its weight of over 4,000 pounds, I was equally impressed by how it performed when power was needed, whether to overtake or while travelling along the 19km incline on the highway.
Keep in mind that this is an engine that has been used over many other platforms such as the Kia Sorento and the Hyundai Santa Fe. It is tested and trusted.
Halfway through the journey, I was convinced that it had enough power to haul 11 persons without the engine feeling strained. So I made an exit at the Moneague toll, where, to my surprise, the vehicle was categorised a Class Two due to its size, girth, and length. However, with dimensions of 17 feet for the length and seven feet for the width, it is no small vehicle. Fortunately, the gas-pinching diesel engine offsets any toll that this vehicle attracts.
Nonetheless, I decided to take the traditional route for the remainder of the journey, and the first thing I noticed was how balanced the vehicle felt, especially with the help of the 17" wheels. Whether I was driving around corners or over potholes, the weight distribution contributed to the ease with which the vehicle was manoeuvred.
The steering also felt sturdy, with just the right amount of weight to make managing it a breeze. It also worked well with the high-performance damper, which complements the Carnival's suspension. Ultimately, it contributed to the ride feeling smoother and more comfortable, which will be appreciated by passengers who are travelling for long distances.
I was constantly checking the rear passengers to see if they were OK, which brings me to the interior. The seats in this trim level are manually controlled which can be a damper, but they are comfortable, with thick padding. What was surprising was the fact that no compromise was made with the passenger seats. All the end seats had armrests and the ability to recline. There were also A/C vents moulded in the ceiling and over 10 cup holders.
The increase in seating capacity from eight to 11 can be done by retracting the fourth row of seats from the floor. Even though these passengers are far from the infotainment system, the Infinity sound system is still clear and powerful at the back.
In addition, the driver is given easy access to multiple functions with the steering-mounted controls and centre console controls. On the left-hand side of the steering wheel, the driver has access to the media-related content along with an easy-to-use revolving volume control. On the right-hand side of the steering are the cruise-control buttons and the vehicle-information button, which gives access to the trip metre, miles per gallon, and other things.
Even though I got the entry-level model with the fabric package, it felt adequate at providing the essentials needed for a fulfilling ride. The power and torque were respectable, and the interior was spacious and relaxing.
Rear Camera and Sensors
Gas tank size: 80 L
Tested Model: 2.2L turbo diesel, fabric spec
Price: High spec, $5.995 m
Competition: Honda Odyssey, Nissan Serena, Toyota Sienna
Test drive provided courtesy of Kia Jamaica. Telephone: 754-0013-5, 979-0020-3.