The new Kia Carnival has become the second vehicle crash-tested against tough new safety protocols to earn a five-star score without needing a centre airbag. 
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The 2021 Kia Carnival has earned a five-star safety rating against tough new testing protocols – and it scored top marks even without a centre airbag between the front seats.

For 2020 and beyond, the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) and its European affiliate raised the bar on side impact crash protection and advanced safety aids.

The first three vehicles tested under the new regime – the Isuzu D-Max ute, Toyota Yaris hatch and Kia Sorento SUV – all had centre airbag protection to minimise head-strike injuries of front seat occupants in severe side impact tests.

However, the Land Rover Defender four-wheel-drive and, now, the Kia Carnival people mover, also earned top marks without the need for airbag protection between the front seats.

That’s because their wider cabins have more distance between front seat occupants – far enough away they avoid head strike in severe side impact tests.

ANCAP says centre airbags are not a prerequisite for five-star safety ratings, however an excellent level of occupant protection in such tests – as well as a raft of other criteria – are a requirement.

A statement from ANCAP said: “Given the width of the passenger compartment, the Kia Carnival was able to score well for protection in the far side (impact) tests. A centre airbag is the preferred countermeasure chosen by manufacturers with smaller vehicles or where the vehicle design and restraints are not enough to provide effective injury prevention in the far side (impact) crashes.”

Under the new tougher criteria, five-star cars must perform to a high standard in every discipline – and the final score is determined by the lowest result in any of the four main areas of testing.

The Kia Carnival assessment included destructive tests of five vehicles, validating crash-avoidance technology in driving scenarios against a robotic car, simulated pedestrian impact bonnet tests, and whiplash tests on the seats. Most of the testing was done in Australia.

In its report, ANCAP said: “All variants of the eight-seat Kia Carnival achieved good scores across the range of occupant protection and collision avoidance assessment areas. The Carnival also provides a well-rounded safety specification, offering head-protecting airbags and intelligent seatbelt reminders for all three seating rows, autonomous emergency braking, active lane keeping, and fatigue monitoring as standard.”

The Kia Carnival performed “particularly well” for adult occupant protection, ANCAP said, with maximum points scored in the side impact and oblique pole tests, and good scores in the frontal offset and full-width frontal tests.

Maximum points were also awarded for child occupant protection in the frontal offset and side impact tests, ANCAP said.

ANCAP also assessed the ability to safely install child seats. “The Kia Carnival is fitted with top tether and ISOFIX anchorages for five of its six rear seating positions, giving owners a wide range of options for the installation of child restraints,” said ANCAP.

“Most restraints could be fitted safely in these locations, however it was noted that one of the Type A convertible restraints could not be correctly installed in rearward-facing mode using the ISOFIX anchorages in the second row outboard seats or the third seating row,” ANCAP reported.

“In addition, the fitting of any child restraint in the third row centre position is not recommended due to the lack of top tether and ISOFIX anchorages in that location,” said the safety authority.