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Kia Carnival First-Drive Review: Step Up From Toyota Innova Crysta

The Kia Carnival is creating a new segment in the people-mover segment with its features, luxury and space. 

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5 min read

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Luxury and space. These are the two strongest attributes of the new Kia Carnival that will go on sale in the next few weeks. The Kia Carnival is an MPV that will be positioned slightly above the Toyota Innova Crysta, at a price point of about Rs 30 lakh. It will have three variants with multiple seating options.

It comes in Premium, Prestige and Limousine, with seating options of seven, eight or nine seats. The Limousine edition is what we at The Quint drove recently in Hyderabad. Here are our first impressions of the Kia Carnival.

The Kia Carnival measures 5,115 mm in length with a wheelbase of 3,060 mm. 
Photo: The Quint

Kia Carnival: What We Like

  • Acres of space, legroom and luggage capacity
  • Comfortable ride quality, silent & plush cabin
  • Luxury convenience features like electric doors standard across variants

Kia Carnival: What We Don’t Like

  • Understated MPV styling may not appeal to all
  • Small feature misses like rain-sensing wipers, automatic DRLs (has LED position lamps instead)
  • Limousine gets ventilated driver’s seat, but standard leather rear seats

Kia Carnival Design

The Kia Carnival has subtle use of chrome in front, which is good. 
Photo: The Quint

The Kia Carnival has a bit of an understated design. It will come in three colours - white, silver and black. That said, the slightly boxy proportions contribute to acres of space inside. And that’s what the Carnival is all about.

The Carnival is longer and wider than its main competitor the Toyota Innova Crysta. This MPV measures 5,115 mm in length, that’s over 5.1 metres long and it has a wheelbase of 3,060 mm which is over 300 mm longer than the Toyota Innova Crysta.

The rear is quite van-like for the Carnival.
Photo: The Quint

It gets dual projector headlamps, LED position light (not a DRL), ice-cube shaped LED fog lamps and subtle use of chrome all around. It comes with a dual sun-roof and I suspect the rear sun-roof will be a hit with politicians on campaign trails.


Kia Carnival Features

Three-zone climate control, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, wireless charging are all part of the package.
Photo: The Quint

The highlight of the Kia Carnival is its middle-row rear seats. This seat can move sideways. It can move back and forth. And it also has an extendable footrest.

You get these individual 10-inch infotainment systems for both the rear seat passengers on which you can mirror your phone or plug in devices. You get automatic climate control that is three zone in this car for the driver, front passenger and rear seat passengers, with independent controls.

The rear seats have a range of adjustments and plenty of space. 
Photo: The Quint

You also get a smart air purifier and there’s a 220-volt socket for you to sit and use your laptop. It has a choice of three in-built perfumes. It comes with six airbags, stability control and plenty of cubby holes and cupholders for storage. You also get Android Auto, Apple Car Play, reverse camera and wireless phone charging. It even has a remote UVO app that can monitor and control functions of the Carnival, including starting/stopping it through a smartwatch.

The rear doors are power sliding, which can even be opened remotely. The boot is electronically operated too. It gets a 540-litre boot with all rows in place and if you fold down the last row, you get 1,624 litres of space. With both rows folded, it’s over 2,700 litres, enough to carry three full bicycles in there!


Driving the Kia Carnival

With all rows in place there’s 540-litres of boot space in the Kia Carnival.
Photo: The Quint

While the best seats in the Kia Carnival are the rear seats, the driver is not short-changed. The driver’s seat is ventilated and there are enough creature comforts up front.

The Carnival has a hydraulically assisted steering which means its slightly heavy but till easy to manouevre in city traffic. But yes, you’ve got to keep an eye on the dimensions. It’s long and wide.

The Carnival is powered by a 2.2-litre diesel engine that puts out 200PS of power and 440 Nm of torque and that’s mated to an 8-speed torque converter automatic transmission that drives the front wheels. Now the 8th gear in this is fairly tall. We were doing 80 Kmph at just about 1,250 rpm.

That said, it’s not really sluggish. There’s enough poke in city traffic when you want to just get ahead. But with a weight of around 2 tons, there is a lot to carry about in this car and it has a touch of lag before it responds to throttle input.

The cabin feels nice and airy, there’s good all-round visibility, the A-pillars don’t intrude. It’s a vehicle you can live with every day, but ideally it’s for those who have large families or a lot of luggage to carry about.

One thing I particularly like about the Kia Carnival is its ride quality. It just kind of glides over everything. The suspension is on the softer side. And then there is the NVH levels. It’s quiet in here, you don’t much of the engine noise or road noise in this cabin.

With its size, the Carnival is not a vehicle you would want to take into narrow city streets. It’s better off on the highways and as an inter-city commuter.


Kia Carnival: What We Think

The Kia Carnival is a luxurious people mover. 
Photo: The Quint

The Kia Carnival ticks all the right boxes for the chauffeur driven segment (with some comforts for the chauffeur too). It will be a step up in size, price and status for buyers of the Toyota Innova Crysta. I suspect it may wean away buyers of the Ford Endeavour or Toyota Fortuner who are primarily chauffeur driven.

However, I think a big use case would be with politicians and corporates. It’s also likely to appeal to luxury hotels also for fleet use. It is opening up a new segment in India, offering space and features of a Mercedes V-Class at a third of the price.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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