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Road Test


Kia Grand Carnival

by Stephen Walker

30th July, 2008


Kia Grand Carnival 
Location: Albany, WA, 
Click on the image for a larger view

Amongst people-movers, the Carnival and Grand Carnival are top sellers. These Korean made Kia models are popular for numerous reasons.

Sure they offer space, which equals comfort, and versatility with the seating arrangements. But, additionally, these handy vehicles also provide a very pleasant driving experience.

A trip to Western Australia provided an excellent opportunity to experience the Kia Grand Carnival. This was no quick drive around the block. We were interested in evaluating the Grand Carnival over an extended distance, with and without passengers and luggage. For some 1,850 kms we drove in a variety of conditions from Perth to the scenic south-west on sealed and unsealed roads.

It's on the road that the Grand Carnival surprises. It's quite easy to be impressed with the generous space for passengers and luggage in this large wagon. But it is the driving qualities that really impresses the driver. At 5,130 mm long, the Kia Grand Carnival is a large wagon. With seating for up to eight occupants and a very deep boot, space abounds. Yet these physical features do not detract from the ease of driving. In fact, the just over 3 metre wheelbase plays its part in providing a comfortable ride.

A previous experience with a Kia Grand Carnival had already left a mighty fine impression. Now, our most recent experience, where we really go the distance (so to speak), just confirms that the Kia Grand Carnival is just as its name suggests ..... enjoyment on a large scale.

The fun for the driver begins just as soon as you put your foot down. This 'car' is no slouch. With a 3.8 litre V6 as standard, together with a 5 speed automatic transmission, this 2.1 tonne (approximate) wagon has more than adequate performance. The 184 kW and 343 Nm work in the driver's favour by providing all the performance that should ever be required. Fuel consumption, on the combined cycle, is rated at 12.8 kms/100 kms. The big fuel tank takes 80 litres of unleaded fuel.

Stephen Walker with the Kia Grand Carnival 
Location: Albany, WA, 
Click on the image for a larger view

You wouldn't expect sports car driving dynamics with a people mover. And that's the way it is. But the powerful performance is backed by excessively user friendly driving qualities. Visibility is very good. Control is very pleasant with its mild manners supported by good steering and braking. The ride is particularly good. That all adds up to comfort being a key word in the Grand Carnival equation. Two of our drives in the Grand Carnival exceeded 400 kms each. Fatigue at the end of each of these drives was low, very low in fact. Such is the impressive manner in which the Grand Carnival handles the job of getting on with the job.

Sure, the spacious interior is always going to be appreciated by those who require seating for up to eight occupants. But this interior is spacious enough for seven adults and one child. That is impressive. We took numerous passengers onboard during our 8 days with this vehicle. They were always happy, by the way. In fact, not one 'bus' joke was ever mentioned. The Grand Carnival is no bus, it's quite a handy large wagon providing comfortable travel in a spacious environment.

The test car was the Premium Edition which took the comfort level to a higher plane. For example, the Premium model includes six airbags, electronic stability programme (ESP), traction control (TCS), alloy wheels (4), leather trim (a very nice touch), leather wrapped steering wheel and gear shift knob, steering wheel mounted controls (audio and cruise control), an aluminium look to the console trim and power operated side doors.

All Grand Carnival models have all-wheel disc brakes, roof rails, power exterior mirrors, front fog lights, front airbags, anti-lock brakes (ABS), central locking, lumbar support for driver, power windows, height adjustable steering column, air conditioning, single CD player and lots of storage spaces for, shall we say, incidentals.

Towing capacity for the Kia Grand Carnival is 650 kilogrammes for an unbraked trailer and up to 2 tonnes for a braked trailer.

Private buyers have a factory backed warranty for 5 years with unlimited kilometres coverage.

Priced from $38,490 (RRP) the Kia Grand Carnival offers superb value. The test car, a Grand Carnival Premium, is priced from $44,490 (RRP) excluding options (such as metallic paint, running boards and front 'nudge' bar).

Kia Grand Carnival 
Location: Albany, WA, 
Click on the image for a larger view

It is difficult to determine any degree of criticism with the Kia Grand Carnival. It does its job of moving people and luggage so well. However, I believe it would do the job even better if the steering column had a 'telescopic' adjustment. Then there's the old chestnut, the Grand Carnival doesn't have a driver's footrest. But then it wasn't needed either, as demonstrated by the lack of fatigue after two long continuous drives.

With all aspects considered, it is easy to understand why the Kia Grand Carnival is so popular. The spacious interior, the excellent ride qualities, the comfort provided for all onboard during our drive experience, together with the value for money proposition make a compelling case for families and others who require more than just seats.

On that basis the Kia Grand Carnival is, indeed, a Grand Carnival!

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