Kia Australia is set to launch the third-generation Kia Carnival in February 2015 to dethrone the new Honda Odyssey that has taken over the mantle of the best-selling people mover in Australia so far this year.
The new Kia Carnival will foremost drop the ‘Grand’ from its name, as part of a marketing decision to reflect the people-mover’s more natural designation.
The new Carnival is based on the recently unveiled 2015 Kia Sorento and measures 5,115mm in length, 15mm less than the vehicle it replaces, 1985mm in width (unchanged) while gaining sportier proportions with a 20mm lower height than before (1740mm).
Australia will get the eight-seat configuration with a choice of a 2.2-litre turbodiesel or 3.3-litre GDi V6 petrol.
In diesel guise, it will have around 147kW of power and 441Nm of torque while the petrol models make do with 205kW of power and 336Nm of torque.
Both models will be driven through the front-wheels via a six-sped automatic transmission. An all-wheel drive model is currently ruled out but may be introduced at a later date depending on demand.
The new Carnival is set to shed its minivan image for what Kia calls a Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV), essentially an people-mover with SUV characteristics.
The new Carnival is the last of the Kia models to gain a design update under the leadership of Peter Schreyer, with the people mover taking plenty of design elements from the new Sorento for both front and rear design.
The interior has also been substantially improved, with a modern switchgear implementation and plenty of family-friendly features such as USB charging and even a power outlet.
Kia is offering a variety of infotainment and active safety features, with Australian models set to gain blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure and forward collision warning, high beam assist and smart cruise control for the top-spec Carnival variants.
On the other hand, the actual production process of the new Carnival has changed considerably to allow 52 percent high tensile steel, as oppose to just seven percent in the previous model, significantly aiding structural rigidity and safety.
Like its predecessor, power sliding doors remain, but unlike before the new Carnival now features a host of built-in practicality features such as storage bins large enough to take a 13-inch laptop and an impressive (if not overkill) 14 cup holders.
The eight-seat configuration will allow the middle second row seat to be removed, effectively making a seven-seat model if required. In the Korean market an 11 seat version is also offered.
Its new sleeker design has taken away considerable shoulder room in the second and third row (-58 and -16mm respectively) when compared to the previous generation, however it does offer more legroom in all three rows (+14, +5 and +21mm respectively) while the passenger and driver both gain space in all areas.
Headroom is also compromised in the front two rows (-10mm) while the third row gains 14mm.
The interior infotainment system has been upgraded with a 7-inch screen for the top-spec models and a 3.8 and 4.3-inch screen available on other variants.
Pricing remains unconfirmed but currently the 2014 Kia Grand Carnival range begins at $39,490 for the Carnival S. The Grand Carnival Si petrol enters at $41,490, SLi diesel at $50,990 and the diesel Platinum tops the range at $56,990.
The new 2015 Kia Carnival will offer different grilles, headlights, rear bumper design, and foglights between the base and top-spec model.
We suspect Kia will largely maintain those prices but the introduction of advanced safety features on the Platinum grade may see the model rise to closer to the $60,000 mark, but still below the luxury car tax threshold.
Production for Australian-delivered models start later this month before the first batch arrives in Kia dealerships in February.
CarAdvice has been in South Korea driving the new 2015 Kia Carnival, expect a review on Tuesday morning.