The fourth-generation Kia Carnival has arrived in Australia with a new look, technology upgrades — and significant price rises.
Once again the eight-seater will be available with petrol or diesel power, with each engine offered in four trims: S, Si, SLi and Platinum.
Both engines power the front wheels only, via an eight-speed automatic.
The 3.5-litre V6 petrol offers 216kW and 355Nm — a 10kW/19Nm improvement on the outgoing 3.3-litre version — while the 2.2-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder only gains 1kW, offering 148kW and 440Nm.
Prices have risen across the board, with petrol variants up $3690 and diesels up $3190 before including on-road costs.
However, Kia is offering drive-away pricing from launch, meaning the range starts at $50,390 drive away for the S petrol and tops out at $69,990 drive away for the Platinum diesel.
There are a number of upgrades and innovations for the extra spend, however.
The second row’s centre seat can be removed, slid forward to allow easy access to infants from the front, or can be installed facing rearwards.
There are grips on the interior panels to make getting into third row, while an increase in the Carnival’s dimensions allows the cargo space to accommodate an impressive 623 litres with all seats in place.
Standard safety gear includes autonomous emergency braking with junction assist, rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist and more, with the SLi and Platinum also getting a 360-degree camera view, safe exit assist which stops the doors opening if oncoming traffic is detected, rear cross traffic braking and more.
Curtain airbags extend to all three rows, however there is no front centre airbag.
This means the Carnival risks missing a five-star ANCAP crash rating, however the Land Rover Defender recently achieved top marks despite also missing the technology.
On top of the safety kit, the entry-level S is bizarrely the only variant to get wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Apparently there’s a beef between Kia (and Hyundai) and one of the tech companies over default map systems, meaning the feature isn’t available on variants with built-in sat-nav.
Normal smart phone mirroring is available throughout the range.
Stepping up to the Si ups the wheels to 18 inches rather than 17 and adds an LED rear lamp, the same 12.3-inch infotainmnet system found in the new Sorento, tri-zone climate control, eight-speaker stereo, front parking sensors and more.
The SLi gets LED front lights, artificial leather seats, powered hands-free tailgate and sliding doors and more, while the Platinum brings luxe features such as 19-inch black alloys, 12-speaker Bose stereo, wireless charging, dual tilting and sliding sunroof, heated seats, ventilated front seats, mood lighting and more.
It doesn’t get all the fruit, however.
COVID has thrown something of a spanner in the works, meaning the Carnival misses out features available overseas such as auto wipers and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.
Travel restrictions have meant while the suspension has been tuned for Australian conditions, the steering mapping is the same as the Korean domestic market.
Kia says the above features will be added on the 2022 model year Carnival.
Other features simply weren’t developed for the vehicle: there’s no head-up display (Kia boffins reckon the above mentioned digital instrument display is enough), no remote parking as found on the Sorento and no prospect of all-wheel-drive.
Kia has aimed to give the people mover more of an SUV-like appearance by largely mimicking the Sorento from the C-pillar forward.
Despite its age, the Carnival has dominated the niche sub-$60,000 people mover segment, accounting for more than half of its sales in 2020.
Local Kia executives have told WestWheels they hope the new Carnival may help address the absence of an upper-large SUV in the brand’s local line-up, given the Telluride isn’t available in right-hand-drive.
We’re booked in to drive the new Carnival next month, stay tuned for our initial impressions.
2021 KIA CARNIVAL SPECIFICATIONS
- Variants S; Si; SLi; Platinum
- Price (drive-away) $50,390; $55,790; $60,290; $67,990 (add $2000 for diesel)
- Engines 3.5-litre V6 petrol; 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel
- Outputs 216kW/355Nm; 148kW/440Nm
- Transmission Eight-speed automatic, FWD
- Fuel economy 9.6L/100km; 6.5L/100km