Kia Carnival long term review, final report

The spacious and comfortable mile-munching machine leaves our fleet.

The photograph you see above was taken somewhere outside Lonavala – a hill station about 120 odd km out of Mumbai – during a family trip. The idea was to have my dear ones standing next to the car, with the rain-soaked scenery as the background. It would’ve made for a pretty picture. Except, despite many requests, my family members were feeling way too comfortable inside to bother stepping out for a photo. Speaks volumes about the effect this Kia has over its passengers, no? Truth be told, the Carnival’s cavernous interiors, sofa-rivaling second row seats and overall comfort are reasons enough to splurge some serious dough on this car. There’s simply nothing in the market that’ll offer what this Kia can, if long-distance touring is your thing.

It’s common to see passengers fall asleep, such is the comfort.

My folks, first of all, have never travelled in a car of this size and the number of times they looked awestruck by the amount of headroom and legroom that’s available is something I lost track of. My sister, especially, loved the second-row seats for the amount of recline they offer as well as the armrests and the leg support. In fact, she was the first to fall asleep a short while after our road trip began. Soon, the rest of the passengers hit the snooze button, which again highlights the comfort offered by the seats. The single infotainment screen, attached to the rear of the front passenger seat, was pretty handy in keeping my little nephew entertained with YouTube videos.

Media tablet for passengers can be used to stream online content.

This is an excellent car to be chauffeur-driven in. So much so that, given how much I love driving, I wouldn’t have resisted giving up the driver’s seat if the opportunity arose. That being said, I had a great time driving the Carnival.

I confess, I initially had a few reservations about driving this XL-sized car in the choc-a-bloc Mumbai traffic, but, to my surprise, it barely took me a few minutes to get accustomed to its size. The light steering and responsiveness of the automatic gearbox made life easier as well. So, if you are worried about how you’d manage driving the Carnival in a big, congested city, it only takes some getting used to. While you’re at it, however, you must ensure you’re good at finding parking lots that are big enough to accommodate the Carnival. 

8.0-inch infotainment screen looks small against the vast expanse of the dashboard.

Out on the highway, the Carnival comes into its own. The engine sits at a relaxed RPM, the cabin filters out road noise to quite an extent and then there’s the way this car rides. The Carnival’s stability and the suspension’s ability to iron out most of the bumps and undulations I encountered is what left me impressed. The big wheels also gobble up the odd pothole in a manner that few other MPVs manage to. More importantly, the Carnival’s composure at expressway speeds, even with a full complement of passengers and luggage is quite commendable.

As for the performance, the 200hp diesel never felt out of breath while hauling the fully loaded Carnival up steep ghat sections in and around Lonavala. Even the 8-speed gearbox is responsive enough during kickdowns, on occasions when one needs to pull a quick overtake. 

All said, there is no getting away from the fact that this big, heavy MPV will guzzle a lot of fuel.

AdBlue consumption is on the higher side, with top ups required around 3,000km intervals.

During our time with the car, with multiple drivers driving it over varied terrain, and traffic conditions, we’ve seen the fuel efficiency hover around the 8-8.5kpl mark. The best figure I managed to see, with a light foot and patient driving was 10.2kpl. Needless to say, my wallet thanked me for that.

Barring the mostly single-digit fuel-efficiency figures, there isn’t much that we disliked about the Carnival. Agreed, the interiors look long in the tooth, the plastics in some areas could’ve been nice and there are some features that should’ve been present in a Rs 33 lakh (ex-showroom) car, like ventilated seats and power adjustment for the same that are only available in the top-spec Limousine+ variant, for a Rs 2 lakh premium. Nevertheless, there’s so much more to like than dislike. The more I drove the Carnival, the more I liked it, while, on the other hand, those being chauffeured hated it when the ride came to an end. 

In an age where all-digital dials are the norm, simple analogue dials look great.

Sadly, as I was in the middle of planning an interstate trip, that dreaded call from Kia came. Our time with the Carnival was up and it was time to hand over the keys. It may have spent a short time in the Autocar long-term fleet, but everyone who’s been in it – from the editorial team to the camera crew – loves it and miss it. Say, Kia India. How about sending us another trim perhaps, eh?

Also see:  

Kia Carnival long term review, first report

Kia Carnival long term review, second report


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