2020 Kia Carnival Review: Here Is All You Need To Know About The MPV!

Words: Neeraj Padmakumar Images: Vroom Head, Kia India

Neeraj Padmakumar
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Here’s the most detailed Kia Carnival Review on the Internet today…


When we think of luxury MPVs, there are not many names that come to our minds. There is, of course, a Mercedes Benz V Class and then the Toyota Vellfire. While the former starts at INR 68.4 lakhs, the Vellfire has a price of around INR 75 lakh. Those who cannot afford these would have to be contented with the smaller Toyota Innova Crysta. In such a market where there is a wide gap between the ‘affordable’ and the ‘ aspirational’ people-mover prices, there exists a potential for a new product for sure.

Kia Motors is apparently aiming right at this void through the Kia Carnival MPV. We had recently gotten to live with this offering from the Korean marque for a couple of days and to have in-depth conversations with the officials on the same as well. Here’s what we have to say about the India spec Kia Carnival…

What Is It?

Time still remains before we get absolute lucidity over the Carnival’s placement in the market. All we have come to know now is that this vehicle would create a segment of its own. It would come in three seating configurations-  7 seater, 8 seater and 9 seater. It would have three trims – Prestige, premium and Limousine. The range-topping Limousine variant would come just in the 7 seater configuration. However, the lower trims get both 8 and 9 seater options. Carnival would have shades of Black, White and Silver to choose from…

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How Does It Look?

Kia Carnival gets a thoroughly flamboyant design inside out. It is over 5 metres in length and fairly wide. The front looks absolutely KIA. The large tiger-nose grille and massive looking LED headlamps (which obviously host LED Daytime Running Lamps), all but contribute well to this. The fog lamp design would seem quite familiar to the existing KIA owners as it is the same ‘ICE CUBE’ design that we had seen on the Kia Seltos previously.

There is a very wise and elegant use of chrome on the front fascia. I love the minimalistic approach in the use of chrome here. ( Not sure what the average ‘Chrome hungry’ Indian would do to this beautiful machine post-launch though…)

The side profile shows the true size of the vehicle. The glasshouse looks huge and elegant. The rear doors are the real show stoppers. The car has electrically operated sliding gates that can be operated at the touch of a button. The shoulder line shows a desperately gorgeous upward pinch right from the C Pillar and towards the rear. The 18-inch chrome sputtering alloys complete the sheer extravaganza of the side profile and wear 235/60 R18 MRF rubber.

The rear looks indubitably elegant with two LED tail lamp units adorning either ends and a plush chrome strip connecting them quite beautifully. There are a shark fin antenna, rear spoiler, and a rear scuff plate on offer as well.

How Is The Cabin?

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Finished in a dual shade scheme of black and beige, the Carnival looks suave on the inside as well. The seats on the range-topping Limousine trim are well upholstered and wrapped in supremely luxurious Nappa leather. The plastic quality and overall fit and finish match those of a true-bred Luxury vehicle.

The dashboard has a spectacular 8 inch touch screen infotainment system from Harman Kardon adorning the centre stage. The unit gets all modern-day connectivity solutions like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Mobile screen mirroring. Thankfully enough, there are physical controls for all major functions of the infotainment systems. The touch response is quite impressive and so is the overall screen resolution. However, the rearview camera quality seems sort of a let down for a car of this class.

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When Kia had launched the Seltos back in August 2019, one of its key attractions was the UVO Connect feature that would allow the drivers to control multiple functions of the car using a dedicated Smartphone app. In Carnival, things go further up on convenience, as now there is even an app for smartwatches! Imagine turning on your Kia or setting the cabin climate through a few clicks on your smartwatch, Wah! The app would have iOS and Android iterations.

What you see beneath the audio controls are those for the Climate Settings. The Carnival gets a three-zone climate control that lets you configure the climates for the driver, co-driver and the rear separately. There is also an air purification system onboard, that ensures healthy cabin air at all times. (Dilliwalo, this is your car…)

The shifter for the 8-speed auto seems quite good to hold and is placed quite conveniently. The 2020 Kia Carnival gets an electronic parking brake instead of a physical one, applause…

Being claustrophobic is the last thing one could ever imagine if inside the Carnival. There is plenty of space inside and two big sunroofs too, to let the most of the sunlight in. The rear roof window would allow ample amounts of light and air to seep in even to the third or fourth rows.

Convenient?

In every bit! The reading lamp cluster also hosts a few switches and controls. What is EPIC here is that there are two buttons mounted here, pressing which would open the power-operated rear doors. Now that’s the perfect chauffeur convenience I have seen today! The second-row occupants, however, have a separate button for operating the doors, mounted on the B pillar.

The second-row seats can be moved and folded very easily and conveniently to facilitate easy access to the third and fourth rows. They can even be moved sideways for the same! A swival feature for the second row would sound too much for the segment, and Kia knows this well as well, phew!

However, what surprised me was the fact that the second-row seats, despite having access to the laptop charger, do not get any front seat-mounted laptop tables for added convenience. May be ‘Laptops’ are meant to be kept on your laps and hence the name!

How Practical Is It?

Well, there are lots of storage spaces inside the Kia Carnival. The central tunnel hosts a total of 4 cupholders, two for the front-seat occupants, beside the gear shifter, and two behind the central armrest, for the second-row occupants. There are lots of charging points inside the cabin including a wireless charging bay at the front and 220V laptop charger at the rear.

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The central armrest offers a storage so deep and huge as to conveniently contain a full-size tablet.  Even the third-row gets a couple of cup holders and mobile charging points. The dash hosts dual glove boxes which further enhance practicality.

‘Absolutely Unimaginable’ is what you would say about the Carnival’s boot space. Even with the third row in place, you get a wonderful 540 litres of space here! This happens by means of wisely designing the seats to ‘sink in’ and form the floor. Yes, the space-saver spare wheel does not sit in the boot, instead, it is mounted beneath the vehicle and towards the right side of it.

The 540L sees a terrific boost to 1625L if the third row is folded and to a MASSIVE 2754 litres if you dare to fold down the second row as well, which by the way, is no headache with the ‘stand-up’ seats on offer. Trust me, this vehicle can even move an entire home if needed!

Second Row Seats- FAB?

Absolutely! The second row is where you would ALWAYS want to be in the Carnival, if not for the driver seat! There is a HUGE amount of space here. Leg and knee rooms are plenty. The second row gets super impressive infotainment options, as there are two 10.1inch touch screen units mounted on the back of the front row. These systems offer numerous connectivity options including USB, AV-in, Bluetooth and even internet and Youtube connectivities.

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The seats are well contoured and supremely comfortable to be in. Both of them get recliners that would transform them into soothing reclining lounges in a matter of seconds. The climate here, can be set with ease and quite effectively. I had been inside the global spec Kia Carnival in 2019. I would have to admit that there have been a few frantic tries for cost-cutting through luxury and equipment scale-downs for the second row, in the new car. This is one reason why I think this car would be priced aggressively in our market.

A CRAMPED Third Row? 

Not even in dreams! The third row feels decently spacious and has seats that offer ample thigh support. I am 168cm tall and still had no struggle in sitting there for quite some time, thanks be to the Sinking seats here. The third row of the Kia Carnival MPV gets three headrests, making for a proper 7/8 seater. Needless to say, there are separate blowers for the third row as well.

9 Seater? But HOW?!

Yes, there is a 9 seater configuration available for the Carnival! (Trust me, that is how HUGE this car is !) The 9 seater Carnival gets three rows of captain seats and a bench at the rear, occupying what would otherwise, have been the boot of the vehicle. Thus the vehicle is indeed a ‘people mover’!

I did not get to experience the fourth row in detail, but from whatever little I got to know, I could tell you that the 9 seater would give you a pretty normal space for the second row and the third and fourth rows would get as much rooms as you would find at the third rows of some of the smaller MPVs of the day. This, however, is just a first impression as the 9 seater version was not available for a detailed drive experience.

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Specifications

Kia Carnival gets a BS6 compliant, 2.2L, VGT Turbo, CRDi diesel engine as the heart, that is good enough to churn out as much as 200 hp and 440 Nm! The torque comes in at a low rpm (1600 ish) and thus there is no question of any craving for power while driving around hard. Ample torque flows in till around 2700 rpm.

The gain of momentum is very much linear and likeable. You would not call this a punchy drive overall, rather a more matured and gradual sprint is what you get in the Carnival. This is because it is a vehicle weighing over two tonnes that the 2.2L mill is assigned to pull.

As mentioned before, it is an 8 speed AT that the Carnival gets. This is a torque converter box and the responses would not let you down in frantic overtaking runs. Of course, it’s not instant or lightning-quick in operation. There is definitely a minute pause in kick-down acceleration, owing to the torque converter genes inside, but again, you would never curse this box for being too sluggish. The transmission also gets the convenience of lever-based manual shifting. There are no paddle shifters, however.

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Drive Impressions?

Well, the speed gain is linear and predictable and the least boring. The mill is very much refined and NVH levels well above impressive as well. The 2+ tonne mammoth feels quite nimble and easy to manoeuvre in the city, thanks to the light steering.

However, nothing hampers the stability at speeds. The vehicle remains quite stable and confidence-inspiring even at triple-digit speeds. I pushed it north of 130 kmph to get a better experience of the same. Slamming corners would not give you headaches either. Of course, there is a bit of body roll but it is all well contained. Braking is quite efficient and predictable too. The discs bring the behemoth MPV to an absolute halt with the least drama.

Ride Quality?

This is where the Carnival excels to the core. The suspension of this MPV is so well tuned that just the worst of potholes and speed breakers cast their evil spells on the occupant’s comfort, especially that of the ones in the second row. Cabin quietness is phenomenal. Road noise, wind noise and tyre noise are very well kept away from entering the cabin. The second row would give you an absolutely feathery ride overall!

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Safety?

The vehicle is built pretty toughly. Kia Carnival gets disc brakes on all four wheels. There is every desired safety equipment on offer like ABS, EBD, 6 airbags, Hill Assist, etc.  However, stuff like Blind-spot Monitoring system, which I had enjoyed thoroughly while driving the Seltos last year, remain missing inside the Carnival, apparently another try at cost-cutting.

Fuel Efficiency- Is The Carnival An Absolute Glutton?

First, tell me what figures you would expect from a 2-tonne vehicle with a 2.2L diesel engine? 8kmpl? 9 kmpl? Well then, get ready for a heart attack now, because 12-13 kmpl is what I got from my test car after a two-day date with it, and despite doing speeds of 130+ kmph on highways and snailing in extreme city traffic! No wonder, Kia claims it to have higher ARAI certified figures…

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Price And Launch?

I know you would be quite keen to know this. Well, we do not have any clue as to what the Kia Carnival price in India would be. I assume it to start where the prices of Toyota Innova ends, maybe around INR 30-ish lakh ( the wildest guess of course!). Let’s wait a couple of weeks more and till the Auto Expo 2020, where this epic MPV is set to see its official market launch…

Lets Sum Up…

KIA Carnival is a product aimed at elite class families of large size. Those who would like to buy a large, luxurious family vehicle for themselves, but whose expectations are well above the Innova standards and are short on money for the V class, would find their match in the Carnival. Having experienced everything that this car has on offer, I can surely tell you that Kia is gonna have a glorious future ahead…

Wanna book yours? This is the place to do so

Have we missed out anything which you would like to know about the Carnival? Shoot your queries as comments and we will answer them for sure…

ALSO READ: KIA Seltos : How HOT Is The New Compact SUV From Kia Motors?

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