Affordable, well built and with enough space to carry eight adults and the week’s groceries, the Kia Grand Carnival is the perfect large family mover.
Model tested: 2007 Kia Grand Carnival EX five-speed auto
Recommended Retail Price: $37,990 (Kia Grand Carnival EX five-speed auto) -> $50,990 (Kia Grand Carnival Platinum five-speed auto)
If you have always wondered why anyone would buy a car as big as the Kia Grand Carnival, the answer is actually rather simple, apart from the family size, the Grand Carnival provides the practicality and the ability to do nearly anything.
Initially I was scheduled to pick up the standard Kia Carnival but a few problems here and there and I ended up with the Kia Grand Carnival, the biggest Kia (bar the trucks) in the market. From a distance it’s actually a little hard to tell the two apart, but once you get inside, it becomes quite obvious.
The differences between the two models are aplenty, firstly the price, the standard Kia Carnival (pictured below on the right) starts from $32,990 for the EX five-speed manual (you would be mad to buy this in a manual), and goes all the way to $36,490 for the luxury five-speed auto. The Grand Carnival starts from $37,990 for the five-speed auto EX variant and goes all the way to $50,990 for the platinum variant.
With a longer wheel-base, the Grand Carnival needs more power than the standard model, and it gets this in the form of a 3.8-litre petrol engine with 184kW of power and 343Nm of torque. You wouldn’t believe it, but the Grand Carnival is very quick for a car its size, 0-100 in 10.5 seconds. It can easily spin the front wheels on take-off and put a few of the medium cars to shame!
The selling point for the Grand Carnival is that even with the third row of seats in use, there is still more room in the back than your average family sedan! That means you can carry eight passengers and the day’s shopping at the same time, not to mention everyone will ride in comfort!
With 8 seats that can each fit a fully grown adult, the Grand Carnival really does emphasis the Grand part. There is just so much room in the rear that you will be amazed as to what you can actually fit! I honestly think you can fit two cattle calves in the back.
With the third row of seats folded, you already have access to 2.3 cubic meters of load space, fold the middle row and you get 3.1 cubic meters, remove the middle row of seats and you get 4 cubic meters of usable space!
There is a noticeable amount of body roll around corners, but the soft ride and comfort easily make up for it. As far as interior comfort goes, there isn’t much to complain about, the seats are very comfortable, even the third row in the far back. The rear doors slide open easily and stay there as expected. Power windows for all, as well as power rear side vents which open slightly outwards!
This car is rather massive, seating height is on par with a four-wheel-drive. There is a huge gap between the passenger and driver seat, you actually can’t reach the passenger safely, and if you lose something, there is a good chance you will never find it.
Another noticeably annoying bit is the stereo system. Although the speakers are adequate, the volume knob sits on the left hand side of the headunit and given the lack of steering wheel audio controls (on the model tested), you actually need to get out of your seat to reach the headunit, this can become rather annoying once the Scissor Sisters come on for the 6th time in a row.
There are two massive cup holders and a great deal of room to store nearly anything you can think of. You can actually walk through this car. The third row of seats easily pull out, and you can have the third row setup and ready in less than 30 seconds, guaranteed. The middle seats get their own food tray that open up much like the ones found on a plane.
From the centre console you can independently control the temperature for the front and the rear, the middle seats have their own separate system (mounted in the roof) giving the Grand Carnival three separate climate zones! It would be nice if the climate control system was digital. The centre console in general looks a little cheap, but it does the job rather well.
Here is the thing, you wouldn’t buy this car unless you had kids, a few kids, and there is absolutely no reason why a family mover, in 2007, does not come with a DVD player and rear LCDs!
The screens themselves alongside the system would not cost more than $1,500 and this needs to be either standard or available as a cheap option. I believe a great deal of car accidents are caused by distracted parents, so why not keep the kids busy and keep the family safe at the same time?
For those that can’t stop worrying about their kids, Kia has installed a convex interior mirror that allows you to keep an eye out on your passengers, a clever feature, but also a little risky given that once behind the wheel, one needs to put all emphasis on, well, driving.
There are some serious downfalls for the Grand Carnival though, the car misses out on side curtain airbags and there is also no ESP. You can option out the extra airbags for $1,500 (ESP not available). For that you also get some updates to the interior, a leather steering wheel, and rain sensing wipers – all of these features, specially the side curtain airbags need to be standard, but for $1,500 it’s not much.
Standard safety features include Anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution, dual front airbags and… not much else.
All that extra room comes at a price, weighing over 2 tonnes, the Kia Grand Carnival is big and thirsty, using 12.8 litres of fuel /100kms. Realistically you’d be looking at around 15 litres.
If you want to be fare, you have to compare the Carnival to the competition, the Toyota Tarago starts at $49,490 for the 2.4-litre four-cylinder variant, the 2.4-litre Honda Odyssey retails for $39,290, and both cars are smaller in all respects.
It probably won’t inspire you to passionately make out with your wife while the kids are still in the back, but when you consider what you actually get for the price, the 3.8-litre V6 Grand Carnival is an absolute bargain and you can use the money you saved on a babysitter and a holiday away from the kids!