Kia Grand Carnival
Kia first came to popular attention during the 1980s, as the manufacturer of the little Ford Festiva which was based on the Mazda 121. However, Kia began business in South Korea in 1944. The contract with Ford was the beginning of the firm's expansion into the global automotive business.
Today, Kia is well known as a brand which has expanded into numerous market segments. Whilst successful in the small car market with the Rio, Kia is represented in the small and mid-sized SUV segment and, even, in the mid-sized sedan market. But where Kia really shines is in the people mover segment. With two people movers on the market, the Australian community has warmly 'embraced' Kia. The South Korean brand has an amazing 40% share (approximately) of the sub-$55,000 people mover segment.
On that basis, a close look at the Kia Grand Carnival is just like looking right into the 'heart' of Kia's current success in the Australian new vehicle market.
The Grand Carnival is the larger of the two Kia people movers on the market. The other wagon, known simply as 'Carnival' is successful in its own right.
For this report, we put the Kia Grand Carnival to the test around Sydney and Newcastle by covering 661 kilometres.
The Grand Carnival was released in January 2006. A new design for a larger two-box vehicle arrived, thus enhancing the already popular appeal of the Carnival range. The Grand Carnival, being larger than the Carnival, appeals to those who desire/require more space and/or more pace.
On the road, the Kia Grand Carnival is an easy car to manoeuvre. Vision is good, power steering is standard and all controls are as easy as easy can be.
The biggest surprise is that the ride in this big wagon is so compliant. The Grand Carnival is just so pleasant to drive. It is comfortable, it is roomy and it performs well with its standard 3.8 litre V6. The engine provides 343 Nm of torque (at 3,500 rpm) so it is quite understandable that this 2,100 kg (approx) wagon can get along quite well when the driver drops the accelerator pedal a degree or two.
The performance and the physical size leads me to believe that the Grand Carnival is atuned to American tastes. But there is no need for an apology, as the Kia Grand Carnival is, also, a good fit for the Australian market.
At 5,130 mm long, this unit is a large car by any measure. And because of this bulk, the Grand Carnival's finest attribute, the roomy interior, shines as a highlight for those seeking a larger, reasonably priced, people mover.
The vehicle offers many fine design features, such as the spacious area between the front seats with a drop-down centre tray. But the big attraction for me is the deep luggage compartment. A staggering amount of luggage can be stored in the rear, as the design features an area that drops below bumper level.
There are two Grand Carnivals, the regular model and an upmarket model. Both have an attractive specification list. However, the top model features leather trim, a worthwhile safety package (which includes electronic stability programme and extra airbags), electric sliding side doors, aluminium-look console trim, steering wheel mounted audio controls and leather wrapped steering wheel and gear shift knob.
Prices for the Grand Carnival commence at $38,490 (RRP) and go up over $50,000 for the top model. There is no doubting the good value at these prices .... hence the success of the Grand Carnival on today's new car market.
Sure, the 'suburban' appearance of a people mover doesn't delight some folks the way a trendy sports car does, but in terms of doing the job it is designed to do, the Kia Grand Carnival is just right.
The impressive manner of this car makes it a necessity to 'kick a tyre' or two at the local Kia dealership for everyone in the market for a largish people mover.
When one company commands an amazing 50% share (nearly 50% that is) of a market segment there is bound to be an answer behind the result. With Kia maintaining a massive lead in the people mover segment, you can be sure of one thing .... it isn't just me who is impressed by the value of the Kia Grand Carnival .... there are a lot of little Aussies out there being transported by a well designed and attractive wagon, a wagon which offers a good driving experience for mum and dad!
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