2008 Kia Grand Carnival Review
by Karl Peskett

2008 Kia Grand Carnival Review and Road Test


Model Tested:

  • 2008 Kia Grand Carnival Premium – $48,890 (RRP)


  • Metallic Paint – $350

Space, power, smooth & strong drivetrain, practical

Soft suspension, slightly wobbly body, styling a little dated

2008 Kia Grand Carnival Review
2008 Kia Grand Carnival Review
2008 Kia Grand Carnival Review

CarAdvice Rating: (3.75)


Photography and words by: Karl Peskett

People movers are an interesting type of car to test. Mainly because you get stares whenever you drive past. They’re not stares of wonderment and jealousy – no, those come with Aston Martins, Lamborghinis, or Bugattis.

It’s the sort of look that almost portrays disapproval. Why on earth would that be? Surely, it’s not because people frown on this genre of vehicle and it’s never the tree-huggers that have a go at you because you’re using more fuel than a Toyota Prius. It’s because as a motoring journo, usually you’re alone while testing.

2008 Kia Grand Carnival Review
2008 Kia Grand Carnival Review
2008 Kia Grand Carnival Review
2008 Kia Grand Carnival Review

In some people’s eyes, there’s nothing more wasteful (and pointless) than a guy driving a people mover around with no people to move. Funny though, when you’ve loaded it up, and have six or seven people inside, there’s nary a second glance.

Of course, you’re not going to rush out and buy one of these cars when you’re a single bloke who’s into clubbing and pubbing (if you are, then ignore that last sentence). This car is clearly aimed at the family market.

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As a family man, I felt it was my duty to don the brood-breeding hat and give the Grand Carnival a whirl. Alborz tested the car last year, but this time, Kia supplied the Grand Carnival and had kindly optioned the test car with the Premium Pack.

Over the standard EX model, this brings side and curtain airbags, leather trim, electric sliding side doors (the cheapest car with this option), and steering wheel mounted controls. The test car also had ESP included – which also comes with the Premium Pack – and although it never had to be tested in itself, the included traction control is definitely necessary.

2008 Kia Grand Carnival Review
2008 Kia Grand Carnival Review

With the 3.8-litre V6 producing 184kW and 343Nm, in the wet the front wheels are guaranteed to spin when taking off. But the biggest problem for this car is actually the torque steer.

If you’re, say, at a set of lights turning left, and you want to pull away quickly, it’s a battle of kickback, tug-o-war, and steering control. Away from the war on overcoming inertia, the bus, oops, sorry, people-mover, drives pretty well.

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The automatic is one of the smoother five-speed jobs around, and the ride although soft is generally acceptable. It can be ruffled by harsher hits, but mostly smooths over bumpy sections.

2008 Kia Grand Carnival Review
2008 Kia Grand Carnival Review
2008 Kia Grand Carnival Review
2008 Kia Grand Carnival Review

Handling is not exactly the forte of this breed of vehicle, however the Grand Carnival is quite adept at holding its line, with predictable bodyroll , yet never feels out of its depth. I suppose that’s because you’re never going to test this car with abandon.

What does concern me a little, is the flexing that the brick-like shape brings. It’s not on the same level as a convertible, by any means, but because the seats are leather, and the second row is three distinct seats, any wobble in the body/chassis is brought to your attention.

The slightly harder cowskin that the seats are coated in, rubs against itself as the middle three chairs twitch. This means that on rougher roads, there’s a constant high-pitched chatter that can get quite annoying after a while. I guess if the kids are screaming in the background, you probably won’t notice it anyway.

When they are, you can keep an eye on them with the convex mirror that conveniently drops down from the roof, and the features keep on coming. The second row can slide backwards and forwards, the third row disappears completely into the floor, and even when the third row is erect, the boot space is still huge.

2008 Kia Grand Carnival Review
2008 Kia Grand Carnival Review
2008 Kia Grand Carnival Review

This is what separates this vehicle from other third row contenders. Even competitors can’t match the Grand Carnival for size with the third row up. Alborz said that when its down, he though that you could store cattle in the back. Well, we’ve since found that someone uses one of these instead of a trailer.

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While most people rock up to their race meets with their go-karts in tow, John turns up with his go-kart and associated sundry on board. He tells us that the kids sit in the second row, and his go-kart fits neatly in the back. How many vehicles can you say that about?

As far as the interior goes, it is a bit plasticky, yes, but then the Grand Carnival is value for money. Space for cash is one of its strong points. Thankfully, the stereo is very good, the seats are comfortable, and all side windows are powered. Even the rear side windows open outwards using a toggle switch on the driver’s armrest.

2008 Kia Grand Carnival Review
2008 Kia Grand Carnival Review
2008 Kia Grand Carnival Review

There’s a myriad of cupholders, oddments storage, and 12V plugs. It’s a wonder then why a dropdown DVD player isn’t included. Still, a $100 investment to keep the kids happy isn’t much to ask after spending $49,000 on your people mover.

In addition, it still uses less petrol than a Pajero, Prado, or Landcruiser. So it’s a great alternative to the four-wheel-drive seven seater, because it’s more efficient, and you get eight seats, plus a tonne of boot space for the same price.

It’s never going to be a status symbol in the motoring world, but nor should it be frowned upon. As a family hack, the Grand Carnival is surprisingly easy to drive, quick, smooth and very practical.

As it stands, it’s the best value-for-money people mover on offer today.

CarAdvice Overall Rating: (3.75)
How does it Drive:
How does it Look:
How does it Go:


2008 Kia Grand Carnival Review
2008 Kia Grand Carnival Review
  • Engine: 3.8-litre, V6-cylinder, transverse
  • Power: 184kW @ 6000rpm
  • Torque: 343Nm @ 3500rpm
  • Induction: Naturally aspirated multi-point injection
  • Transmission: Five-speed Tiptronic-style automatic
  • Top Speed: N/A
  • 0-100km/h: 10.5 seconds
  • 0-400m: Not tested
  • Fuel Consumption: 12.8-litres/100km (Combined)
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 80 litres
  • Fuel Type: 91RON petrol
  • EuroNCAP rating: Four star
  • Airbags: Front, Side, Seat & Curtain
  • Safety: ABS, DTCS, EBA, EBD,
  • Spare wheel: Space saver
  • Tow capacity: 2000kg (braked)
  • Turning Circle: 12.1m
  • Warranty: 5-year/Unlimited
  • Weight: 1498kg
  • Wheels: 16″ Alloy

  • Marc

    A bit boring, but hey, it’s gotta do the job I guess.

    What’s the reliability like these days?

  • Frontman

    Reliability seem ok these days (infinitely better than the original 2.5 ;-)). Just make sure you really want to own one of these for a long time. There’s someone going around in a platinum that is 8 weeks old and is looking at a huge bath ’cause he needs to get out of it :-(
    Nothing wrong with the truck, has all the bells and whistles and some, just his bad luck I’m told.

  • http://skyline The Salesman

    Kia’s reliability is now rated in the top 10 for the least amount of defects per 100 vehicles sold.
    Currently the Carnival holds, and has held the number one spot in Australia since 1999. (volume speaks volumes)
    And backed by a 5 year warranty
    Sorry, I know I sound like a salesman. Funny that

  • Gerard

    I bought a 2007 Grand Carnival 11 months ago and couldn’t be happier, until now. I’ve just rolled over 19 000 kms and discovered an engine oil leak – off to Kia for a warranty inspection…

  • spiderman

    Best value people mover on the market. All those seats AND room for the pram.

    Most 7 seaters don’t allow kids seats in the back row with a pram behind them. Think companies, if you have small kids in seats then you have a pram.

    Well done KIA.

    I am going to be buying one very soon


    wish i had a beer for every carnival motor that lunched its self at 80,000kms…kia got so sick of rebuilding them they started farming then out to any tom, dick or harry calling themselves a mechanic…their cheap price dictates that they will be snapped up by growing family’s though,(think kiwi’s,fijians etc).and your right,frontman,resale can be tricky…………

    • mmmmm

      WOW 80 000 kms, they must have been the good ones.
      Kia are a dishonest company for selling Australian families cars they knew would blow up.
      they maybe better now but why would anyone trust kia

  • Frontman

    The numbers I’m hearing on it makes wall street look good. As I said nothing wrong with the truck but a 20k bath in 8 weeks hurts real bad. So Spidy make it a long term purchase and you will be fine……..

  • http://faster DanMan

    Wow.. Nice backround for the photoshoot! very exotic local.
    Did he say $49000? I swore he said $49000. Shome mishtake shurley..?

    oh yeah i dont think kiwi’s fijian’s.. I just think.

  • http://skyline The Salesman

    That’s about 300 beers.
    Kia replaced every engine, even the one that had not faulted and were out of warranty.
    Can you think of another car company that replaced an engine regardless of klms traveled or its current running condition?

    • Caught by Carnival

      Hi Salesman

      Can you please tell me which enigine were replaced? which model, year etc? was it done globally or only in Au?


    mr salesman,

    i remember i few years ago g.m. replaced more than one 5.7 ltr v8 because of supposed piston slap,which is more help than toyota are doing with the v6 aurion now….

  • Frontman

    Mitsubishi with NH Pajero’s. Daewoo replacing heads becuase of pin holes, Sorry just a little bit of free time :-)

  • http://faster DanMan

    J & H.

    WTF. please explain. RE Aurion engine. 2GR FE?

    If i cant make that cars pistons slap, no one can…
    Remember this engine also powers Kluger, lexus, Tarago, rav. no problems there..

  • http://skyline The Salesman


    Were they out of warranty? Did they replace the whole engine?
    No. Come on you are smarter than that.

  • http://skyline The Salesman

    Best i remember there were two or three with the piston slap, i remember seeing it on ACA, not 300.

  • Frontman

    Daewoo’s definately, most pinholes appeared at 3 1/2 years regardless of km (that was strange as there were some @ 35k some @ 90>120k’s). Some NH’s were just out. But fairs fair, none of those manufacturers had such a bad motor as the 2.5 (haha)

  • Bret

    All Klugers should have their V6’s replaced…….. with something with a bit of torque!
    All power, no torque, the things rev their guts out just trying to keep up with normal traffic flows. The engine is just not suited to a largish, sloppy handling 4WD wannabe.

  • http://ags_kudajantanyahoo.com agusachmadi

    I wear year carnival car 2000

  • http://ags_kudajantanyahoo.com agusachmadi

    how treament (of) best car

  • http://ags_kudajantanyahoo.com agusachmadi

    I look forward to hearing that KIA Carnival Factory.

  • Nobby

    Got 22.5% off the on road price of my last purchase at Kia(Brand new 2005 LS Carnival).

    Just about to start negotiating a price for a brand new Grand Carnival Premium. (RRP $44890+on roads with some dealers offering $42990 Driveaway)

    Any ideas what the cheapest price one could expect on this?

  • http://digital_camera_reviews.protechltd.com zoe Hellar

    I have been able to negotiate a price of $41,000 drive away for a Carnival Premium

  • Richard

    Just do a google on Kia Carnival engine failure & find out for yourselves what a disaster these cars are. And if you already are unfortunate enough to own one – check out the class actions that must soon hit the courts and see justice done to the criminals at Kia for producing what must rate as one of the worst cars ever made

    • Caught by Carnival

      Hi Rich

      What haappend about the class action? Did it take place and were you involved?

  • http://yahoo sam

    i had a 2000 model carnival….i drove it from melbourne to queensland gold coast,in that 2 weeks of driving and air con on all the way it only cost me $480 in petrol,i loved the feel of the car and the driving experience i just purchesed 09 crand carnival premium….im just a lucky one who had a trouble free kia i suppose and ohh yes the kia did have 156,000km on it….thank you kia….

  • http://yahoo sam

    i had a 2000 model carnival….i drove it from melbourne to queensland gold coast,in that 2 weeks of driving and air con on all the way it only cost me $480 in petrol,i loved the feel of the car and the driving experience i just purchesed 09 crand carnival premium….im just a lucky one who had a trouble free kia i suppose and ohh yes the kia did have 156,000km on it….thank you kia….

  • http://skyline The Salesman

    Kia Carnival is Australia’s number ONE selling people mover. All the effected Kia’s had the engines replaced or repaired even the cars that were out of warranty. The engine that had trouble was the Rover sourced 2.5 V6 quad cam engine (not Kia’s design)
    Why pick on Kia? Ford just recalled Territory and Falcon for Brakes, as did Mitsubishi with the Lancer. Toyota re called 1.4 million Yaris. Re calls happen all the time, should we not buy any of those cars as well?

  • http://yahoo sam

    hi its me again (sam)sorry i didnt clarify that was a returne trip back to melbourne $480 in fuel….got an average of 620km per tank and thats using v power fuel from shell, i just traded in my 2000 model carnival for 09 grand premium carnival, i got 5 and a half grand for trading and paid 32k on top…. i love it…

  • Safety Dad

    I purchased a Kia Grand Carnival Premium in January this year (2009). I was apprehensive at first with the carnival due to its bad reliabilty reputation between 2000 and 2006. However, the EX model is a completely different beast to any previous models KIA made. I can not believe how much room is in this People Mover and the trimings are first class. The 3.8 Ltr engine is thirsty around town but certainy powerful enough to drive like a sports car. The ABS and STD traction control are brilliant inclusions which has already paid for itself after a “P” driver ran a red light infront of me recently. Under full brakes, the Carnival steered around two other cars and never lost any traction at all. The eight air bags also give confidence should the worst scenario ever happen. I take my hat off to KIA for this design..its the best people mover I have ever driven and well worth the $40,000.00 plus price tag.

    Having said this, I do feel alot of sympathy for those people who purchased a pre 2006 Kia Carnival. Those vehicles were badly designed and made. It will take some time before KIA regains market confidence from those previous owners. It would be great if KIA compensated these owners with substantially discounted EX models which I’m, positive they would all be happy with…! :)

  • Carnival Lover

    I purchased a tennis open car (Dec 2006) model in May The power of this car and the simple luxury of it is fantastic. If ever anyone asks me about it, I rave about it. Absolutely love it. I cant really think of anything that I dont like about it. Even down to not allowing the sliding door to completely open when you have the fuel lid open. Safety!!!

  • Repeat Carnival owner


    After much consideration, we purchased another kia carnival 2 years ago. We previously had a 2005 kia (no major probs) and moved on to the 2007 kia grand carnival premium. While the warranty guy and i are on a first name basis, we have not had major mechanical issues and they are more than happy to accomadate my whining! Seems we have an issue with the plastics…..

    It is cheap to run. It does have a large fuel tank but that is great for road trips. It tows better than our dual cab and overtakes like a fine tuned machine!

    The lack of safe seat belts is very dissapointing and definately something we are looking at when replacing it…hopefully kia bring out a 2010 model with adequete seat belts.

    Bottom line is that this car is great bang for your buck, the most spacious 8 seater out there, and handles really well. The safety features are great, i would not buy the standard model however due to its lack of. This car has done a fair amount of driving, both long distances and heaps of winding roads. The power of it is suprising and i feel safe driving it.

  • Repeat Carnival owner

    Hey Salesman,

    What 5 year warranty? We only got 3 years…..

  • http://www.kiacarnivaldisaster.com/ kate

    My Kia disaster story
    • 2005 kia carnival brought may 2006 with 11 000km on the clock
    • 94000 kms just stopped whilst driving it no warning, no noises nothing.
    • Cam shaft seized
    • Timing belt thrown
    • One head damaged by the above
    • Opposite side bottom end pistons burnt and overheated
    • Little or no oil and water to one side of engine due to carbonization blockages caused by poor quality rings
    • Mechanic advised not worth repairing engine is a write off
    • Unable to purchase new motor, have to purchase second hand motor and rebuild $8000 plus!
    • Financially unviable to repair.
    • Was worth $12 000 to $16 000 now worth NIL
    • Left owing money and no car
    The car dealer we brought it from said too bad out of warranty 3 years!
    Kia said if it had done under 90 000 kms they may have covered parts only.
    I just got offered a $1.00 for it!

  • Heidi

    He have a 2007 Kia Carnival, the very basic model. we had no choice but to upgrade from our Frontera when we were expecting our 4th child.
    I didn’t realise how lucky were were to have such a great car until last week when I had to drive a Tarago for a week (my Kia was getting a total respray courtesy of my 5 year old taking to every panel with a rock) The Targo was dreadful. We have our baby seat in the centre middle row…which meant in the Tarago the kids were unable to access the seatbelt plug ins, and we couldn’t fold the side seat up so we could access the back seats…grr…seats way too narrow in the Tarago.
    We just looked at the Imax yesterday, but unimpressed with the lack of cruise control, and the fact you cannot remove any seats…which are both features we love in our Carnival….looks like we’ll be getting ourselves into a Grand Carnival….
    Sorry to hear you had such a crummy experience Kate

  • Phil Hutchison

    We have had two Carnivals now…. The first standard 2.5 7 Seater was great but not enough Ummph to pull our 1800Kg boat! Had Grand Carnival for two years now and really enjoy the performance. My wife loves driving the car even though it is bigger than the earlier model. Yes the fuel consumption is relatively high but you are lugging around a lot of body in comfort.

    Our only problem has been the Front brakes…. Awful noises coming out of the front wheels when braking and still noisy steady running at freeway speeds. Told by Kia I needed new brake discs after only 41,000 Kms and not covered by warranty as these are a wear out item!! Fitted after market high performance slotted discs in case the towing was the problem….5000 kms later with no towing during the period and the noise is back :-(

    …….. Anybody any ideas……..shame it is spoiling an otherwise great car.

  • Greg

    We are looking to purchase a Grand Carnival in the near future. It does appear to offer a lot of car for the dollars – it is a pity relatively high fuel consumption is part and parcel of owning a large vehicle I suppose. In regards to the earlier Carnival 2.5 litre’s engine problems, I would avoid that car like the plague. But it’s worth remembering that the Grand Carnival is not actually a related car to the Carnival. It may have similar styling and a related nameplate, but it is in fact an entirely different vehicle that is wholly unrelated to the Carnival. (Thank goodness!) Otherwise I would not even consider owning one…

  • Chris

    Hi all, just a quick note in regards to the fuel economy of the 2008 Grand Carnival. We bought one in March 2009 and have been running it on normal unleaded for all that time. Took it to the dealer as we were only getting about 420 kms out of a tank which is roughly 18.8l/100km. A long way off the 12.8l/100km they tell you at point of sale. We have just started using premium unleaded as suggseted by the dealer after they found nothing wrong with the car. The fuel consumption has dropped dramatically and we now get about 14l/100km out of a tank. Good improvement even when you do have to pay a little extra for fuel. We are also thinking of travelling around Australia in 2012 with our four children and a camper trailer. Anyone done such a thing in a Grand Carnival? If so how was the ride?

  • Deb

    Hi – just wanted to ask about 7 seater vs 8 seater Carnivals. I have four kids and love my 2008 Carnival. I purposely didn’t get a Grande because it didn’t have the 2 bucket seats in the middle. My kids (and every other person who rides in the back of my Carnival) LOVE those bucket seats and all the little things that go with them. It looks like all new Carnivals, Grande or not are now 8 seaters. The website says “3 buckets” in the middle row. Anyone know how that works? If the middle seat were removable, there wouldn’t be any arm rests, would there? My local KIA car salesman said he would look into it, but I haven’t heard anything back. I would buy a Kia Carnival ONLY only for those lovely bucket seats in the third row – am I asking for the impossible?

  • Deb

    Sorry in that last sentence I meant bucket seats in the second row! I have since seen a picture with the middle seat folded down like an armrest, but that still doesn’t give the ease of access to the third row which I also like about the bucket seats in the middle row.

  • Nath746

    We have a 2009 Model Grand Carnival Basic Model with no Audio Controls on the Steering Wheel or no Electric Doors. But Kia still decide to have pieces of plastic stuck to the sides of the steering wheel and to the roof to resemble buttons that would cost more to put there. surely they would remove these and just have nothing there (steering wheel) or a sheet of plastic on the roof (for the door and boot controls).
    Also, the seats are EXTREMELY flat and hard and uncomfortable on trips more than 150kms and the Fuel Economy is Dreadful. We were towing an 800kg trailer around and it averaged 15.5L per 100km.
    Also, our Fuel Tank is not 80 Litres, but only about 68 (as we found out when we ran out of fuel and filled it up completely and only being able to put 68 litres in…)
    Positives though are the large boot with all the seats folded up.
    Another downside is the sheer size of the thing… it is almost impossible to take it into an underground carpark in the city without scratching it.

  • Kerry

    I too am trying to make the decision to give Kia a chance. Particularly like the Premium and keen on the diesel. My biggest issue is the lap belts in 2nd and 3rd row. Does anyone know if this can altered to a lap/sash belt ? I am narrowed down to either the Mitshubishi Grandis or Kia Grand Carnival Premium.

  • Rob Nixon

    Hi we just love our Kia Carnival.
    Yes we have had warranty problems but Kia Motors & Tynan Motors so far have come to the party.
    Power yes , comfort & space for all yes,Looks to us like a large Comadore . NOTE we stepped out of a comadore to go for our 2008 Kia.We tow a 2000klg boat , take kids to soccer & use for all our family trips.
    Kia :please bring out a 4wd & you will corner the market..

    Cheers Rob

  • Davey

    Why don’t the Kia Australia execs go in to bat for us Aussies and demand 2nd and 3rd row lap/sash seat belts, the US get them in the very same car.

    I hate it everytime we have to buckle up in those dangerous lap only belts…weren’t they from the 1960’s?

  • Trishcab3

    How do you remove the middle row of seats