The Kia Carnival was voted 2018 Australia's Best Family Wagon! It is an eight-seater and obviously intended for family life! I'm looking forward to putting it through our BabyDrive testing to see how family friendly it really is!
I was initially a little overwhelmed by the Carnival, as it is a different style of car to most I have reviewed to date and everything seemed to work a little differently. It definitely had that feel of a BIG people mover rather than a car. For starters, the rear doors slide down the side of the car rather than opening outwards! I love this because it gives you a lovely big door opening to post Bub into their seat from outside the car, you don't have to worry about car doors bashing into the car next to you when you're parked and there are buttons in the front for the driver to control them from there.
The Carnival boot is not the same as I am used to in nearly all other cars either. When you are using all three rows of seats, the boot floor is like a trough at the back of the car and it is really low down. This is also the space that the third row of seats collapses down into.
I had no idea the boot space would be like this and at first glance, I thought it looked really small and I didn't think I'd get much in there without stacking it all on top of each other but actually it held ten shopping bags and the trough worked really well to stand strollers up in with shopping bags beside them. That's the same amount as in the Infiniti QX80, two more bags than the Nissan Pathfinder and three more than the Mazda CX-9.
When I was only using five seats the third-row seats collapsed into the trough in the floor and created a flat-ish and very large floor like you would find in a van. I could fit 24 shopping bags in there! That's two more than the Infiniti QX80 and six more than in the Nissan Pathfinder and two more than the Mazda CX-9.
When it came to the installing child seats in the back, it took a while to get to grips with all the different seat combinations, sliding mechanism options and top tether and ISO Fix positions! So there are four top tethers in total and three ISOFix.
The second row is made up of three individual seats that slide and fold up separately. The two outer seats have ISOFix and top tethers. The ISOFix points are not within plastic guides, they are between the seat back and base, but I found them relatively easy to connect to.
The top tethers are really far down on the seat backs, so I found for both rear facing child seats I tried to instal there I needed an extension strap.
In the third row, there is another three seats too, split 60:40, and there is ISOFix and top tether in the seat on the 40 split side. There is another top tether in the central seat. I was a little confused by there being top tethers in the two seats next to each other and not in the two outer rear seats. Again the top tether anchor points are really far down on the seat backs, and while I didn't need an extension strap with my forward-facing child seats, I did with rear-facing.
I was able to install two forward-facing child seats in the third row of the Carnival; the Britax Maxi Guard and Kid Guard Pro fitted next to each other and I could actually squeeze into the seat beside them! Head and legroom are excellent in the third row.
In the second row, I installed the rear-facing Britax Platinum Pro and Britax Graphene child seats in the two outer seats and I was able to sit in the central seat between them.
Although I could only get four child seats into the Carnival because there are only four top tether anchor points, the good thing about it is the remaining two seats are usable by adults! So the Carnival is good for a family where some kids are too big for child seats and will be just on the car's seats.
Legroom was excellent! With child seats in both rows, there was plenty of legroom for each row and the front passenger and driver. To climb into the central seat in the second row there was enough room when the second-row seats are slid back to climb around the front of an installed child seat.
If you slide an outer second-row seat all the way forward and use the seat lifting lever to bring the seat back and base upwards, I think there would be enough room for a child to climb in behind it or by folding down the seatback of the central seat in the second row and climbing across there, the central seat is also removable so you can have a walk through to the third-row seats. The only problem is I didn't think there was an easy way for an adult to reach through to do up the child restraints in the third row, without uninstalling a child seat in the second row and climbing up?
The media touch screen is very simple and easy to navigate, and the inclusion of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is really good. I did find the Carnival a bit ‘beeeepy' for a family car. The boot beeps to open and close, the car beeeeeped continually when I got out, I think because my keys were still in the cab.
The Sat-Nav was easy to use but I couldn't mute the voice guidance easily and found it hard to reach the screen while I was driving as it was too far away!
The reversing camera was really quite pixelated and basic, there weren't any sensor visuals on it but they are on the digital display in front of the steering wheel instead, and I couldn't mute the sensor sound without turning the sensor visuals off too. Turning them on and off is by pressing a button in the central console.
The air-conditioning in the Carnival is very effective, there are vents in the rear ceiling as well as across the front dashboard. There are controls in the second-row ceiling as well as on the front dash. So you can control the rear airflow while driving, in case your rear passengers are too little or fighting over it!!
Storage in the Carnival is AMAZING!! There are 10 cup holders, the central console storage box is fully felt line, there are extra storage areas in the doors and side of the central console and a double glove box. The vanity mirrors in the front are lit and extendible and there are four cup holders for the second row of seats and there is a conversation mirror so I could keep an eye on the back seats without having to turn my head away from the road!
The Carnival is a nice car to drive; it's smooth and road noise is good but you can hear the engine working hard, especially when you're going up hills! Visibility is quite hard from the second row back, purely due to the size of the vehicle and the child seats installed. The windows are nice and large and the side mirrors help with visibility too but I found I relied a lot on the reversing camera when maneuvering and the image wasn't the best quality.
The seats in the Carnival were cream leather and perforated! For a family car, I thought these were the ultimate impractical combination which would be very difficult to keep clean and crumb free!
The Kia Carnival got a 5-star ANCAP safety rating in 2016 and has 6 airbags as standard. The side curtain airbags do extend to the third row.