The Kia Carnival is impressive

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The Kia Carnival is impressive

When it comes to utility, many tend to think that bakkies are the first choice. However, vans on the other hand have a host of features to assist with daily life. Also called the Kia Sedona, the Carnival nameplate has been around since 1998. Here we have the recently released generation. On test is the 2.2 CRDI SXL 7 Seater.

Let’s get into it.

Engine & Transmission

The Kia Carnival is powered by a 2.2l 4-cylinder turbo diesel unit mated to an 8-speed conventional automatic transmission. The engine pushes out a respectable 148kw of power & 440nm of torque sent to the front wheels.

You get several driving modes from Normal,Eco, Smart & Sport. There are paddle shifters available but if we’re going, to be honest, the Carnival could have done without them. Although semi-automatic, it errs more on the automatic side. A manual kick-down switch under the accelerator pedal would have been more welcome and a more manual control with the paddle shifters.

Despite that, power delivery on the Carnival is smooth & instant. In situations when merging is required, kick down from the automatic box is perfectly programmed when you’re in motion.

Even when used in luggage mode, when loaded, the Carnival doesn’t break a sweat.

Fuel economy is also a winner here. In our test period, we saw between 7.0-7.5l/100km combined cycle. With around 400km of driving, the fuel gauge needle barely moved.

A very good drivetrain. Hats off to Kia there.

Handling & Comfort.

First & foremost, the Carnival in our eyes needs to appeal to families & corporate transport. The Carnival is a highway star of note with exceptional ride quality as well as sound deadening. Interior materials are soft touch with some of the best leather used on the seats as well as the steering wheel. The standout feature in terms of comfort is the addition of not only heated but cooled seats. This is especially handy in the middle of a sweltering South African summer.

Convenience features include power-operated sliding doors & tailgate with the option to operate them manually if you so choose. The front seats are electrically operated.

Safety is another area where Kia did not skimp on the features. The Carnival is huge in size but Kia has made the van easy to drive & negotiate parking with a slew of features. Some of those include collision avoidance systems such as 360-degree cameras, lane change warning systems & smart cruise control. It’s incredibly easy to drive the Carnival & the safety features are not intrusive. Collision Avoidance gets an A+ here.

Road holding is also notable. The suspension tuning is dialled in well & on winding roads, surprisingly the Kia was a pleasure to dynamically drive in a manner of speaking.

The last of many standouts here is the infotainment system. 12 speakers & seamless head unit make playing music in the Carnival a true adherence to its nameplate.


In the past few years, it’s been known that Korean manufacturers have been coming in strong with their interpretations of exterior & interior design.

The exterior of the Carnival is a head-turner. Many curious looks & often surprise reactions are the results of what Kia brings to the table when it comes to luxury & design. The exterior design is futuristic with LED light strips & Lights bars paired nicely with massive grills & tasteful uses of chrome trim. The Carnival is wide but has road presence, not with eccentric design choices but touches that make it stand out & not make it another box-shape soccer-mum van.

The excellent design execution stretches to the interior too with touches of gloss black trim, brushed aluminium look trim pieves and soft-touch materials & leather. It’s very clear here that Kia wanted the Carnival to compete with the Mercedes Benz V-Class when it comes to these (And many other) aspects.

Use of space is well done here with convenient storage pockets.

Price & Maintenance

The Kia Carnival in 2.2 CRDI SXL 7 Seater trim will set you back R1 024 995. This is the top of the line model. At this price comes a 5 year/Unlimited Kilometer Warranty, 6 year/90000km maintenance plan & 5 year/Unlimited Kilometer Roadside assistance. The entry-level 2.2 CRDI EX 7 Seater begins at R799 995.


It’s hard to fault the Kia Carnival except for minor nit-picks. Kia has brought their A-Game here & it seems that competition in the form of the Mercedes Benz V Class is in Kia’s crosshairs. Considering that the top of the line Carnival is nearly R200 000 cheaper than the entry-level V-Class, Kia has brought something different let alone something competitively head-turning to the table & utters the words, “Your move”

The Kia Carnival gets a good recommendation.



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