Yes, the Innova Crysta is going to probably be the reference point for many buyers considering a Carnival, but that is down to the fact that Toyota has long been the sole premium MPV choice in India. In reality, the Kia Carnival is a significantly larger, more powerful and more luxurious MPV. There’ll be no overlap in costs either, meaning the Carnival will start where the Innova range tops away. Essentially, the Carnival is an MPV intended for buyers that want something luxurious but also have had to settle for an Innova for lack of selection.

With that out of the way, let’s talk of some of the Carnival’s identifying elements. The 7-seater seat occupants at a 2+2+3 layout, the 8-seater in a 2+3+3 layout, while the 9- seater is unique for its four-row (2+2+2+3) design. The Carnival 7-seater will probably be accessible in all 3 trims (Premium, Prestige, and Limousine), with the 8- and 9-seat versions only accessible Premium and Prestige, respectively. There’s only one engine-gearbox for India — a 2.2-liter BS6 diesel mated to an 8-speed automated gearbox.

Kia Carnival Design Review

The first thing gets you concerning this luxury MPV is its dimensions. What the measurements also reveal is that the Carnival is much more Mercedes-Benz V-Class (5,140/ / 1,928/ / 1,880mm) than Toyota Innova Crysta (4,735/ / 1,830/ / 1,795mm) in dimension.

And it’s not just the size that distinguishes it from the other MPVs on sale in India. Sure, the shape is conventional MPV, but the front end, with that imposing grille and large headlamps, helps establish the Carnival as something superior. The sculpted front bumper, exceptional ice cube-like fog lights, and a slide plate add some character also.


Kia Carnival Design
Kia Carnival Design

A pronounced shoulder line, pinched effect for its third-row windows and sleek 18-inch metal wheels uplift the Carnival’s profile, even if the massive 3,060mm wheelbase remains the focal point at the sides. The extended rear overhang leads to an upright tail that is adorned with a roof spoiler, smart-looking tail-lamps and a slide plate at the bottom of their bumper.

An important point to bring in is the Kia Carnival employs the space-efficient combination of monocoque structure and front-wheel-drive design. The Innova Crysta, for reference, is a body-on-frame, rear-wheel-drive MPV.

Kia Carnival Interior Review

It is, and just how. There’s ample room between the two front seats, and the huge windshield and glasshouse accentuate the sense of distance still. What also makes an immediate impression is that the overall quality in the cottage. The cushioned end of the dashboard, the chrome information, and knurled knobs are German car great, and that is saying something. The Carnival’s dashboard does not break the mold but it’s strategically laid user-friendly and out. The high-set, 8.0-inch touchscreen and center console buttons are easy to access and reach. Front-seat relaxation can also be good, and people will even find it easy to get into and out of position.

Access to the rear part of the cabin is via standard-fit powered sliding back doors. These doors can be controlled via the door handles, overhead controls in the front and the key fob. While the doors open wide, becoming to the second, third or fourth rows require a bit of a climb up. The grab handle on the B-pillar does help but older occupants might find it most suitable to sit down the second-row seat and then flex their legs.

The middle-row captain’s seats on the 7-seat Carnival Limousine in focus here get reclinable backrests, can be slipped back to maximize legroom and feature fold-out leg rests. Suffice to say, the Nappa leather-upholstered seats are as plush as they look. Kia has also built the top-spec Carnival with dual 10.1-inch back touchscreens with display mirroring, HDMI and internet (via cellular hotspot), letting you catch up with your favorite shows on the ride back home. A 220V 2-pin plug stage in the rear console (a characteristic that’s exclusive to the India-spec model) also makes it feasible to connect other heavy devices.

Kia Carnival Interior Design
Kia Carnival Interior Design

Couple all the goodies with the sheer room available and what you receive is a genuinely luxurious experience. But, we did discover that with the leg rests in full extension, our feet inevitably touched the chairs in front. It is not a biggie but it will highlight the lack of a’Boss mode’ or a one-touch mechanism to choose the front passenger seat forward from the trunk. Armrests with a wider range of motion would also be part of our wishlist.

The path to the third or fourth-row seats depends on the version of the Carnival you opt for. 7-and 8-seat Carnivals at Premium spec and 7-seat Carnivals at Prestige-spec get exactly what Kia calls’stand-up’ second-row seats — ones that fold vertical to make a large cavity you can walkthrough. 9-seat Carnival Prestiges and the range-topping 7-seat Carnival Limousine require rear-seat occupants to walk to their seats via the passing between the second-row captain’s seats. However, the Limousine trim does make life simpler with the unique option to transfer the middle-row captain’s seats sideways. Transferring the chairs inwards puts you closer to your fellow passenger while transferring them outwards frees up more space for rearmost occupants to pass through. The fact is, reaching the final row is rather convenient.

The Limousine’s third row could be slid back and forth to balance the legroom and luggage room, and also contain reclinable backrests. There is, however, no shortage of knee room and there’s also enough shoulder room for three average-sized adults to sit in relative comfort.

With all seats in place and the third row at its rearmost setting, the 7-seat Carnival has sufficient luggage room to comfortably hold two big suitcases positioned upright; the large cavity at the bottom of the luggage area equals lots of room. You can create more distance by taking the chairs ahead. However, to convert the MPV to cargo van, then you need to fold the 60:40 split third-row chairs. The superbly executed mechanism folds the chairs flush with the floor. You’ll be surprised by how many bags the Kia Carnival could swallow. If you are wondering, the wheel is a space-saver placed beneath the body at the B-pillar.

We also spent some time at the 9-seat Carnival. Although this version’s second- and third-row captain’s seats also secure reclinable backrests, adjustable armrests, and can be slid back and forth, they aren’t quite as luxurious or inviting as the ones on the 7-seat Limousine. The third-row seating position, in particular, is a bit overly knees-up, even if it’s possible to find a reasonable knee-room compromise. The proximity of the rearmost seats to the back windscreen is just another cause for concern. As it is, with four pops up, there’s virtually no room for luggage. Folding the single-piece last row, but does make enough distance to get a holiday’s value of suitcases.

Upfront, the main glovebox is supplemented by a small storage bay higher up, the door pockets may hold a bottle each, and there’s also a massive bay below the center armrest that is also home to USB and 12V power sockets. There are cupholders for each of those seats at the back, in addition to a 12V socket at the boot.

Kia Carnival Features Review

As previously mentioned, the Carnival will be available in three trims. Power-sliding back doors, three-zone climate control (with roof-mounted vents to your second and third rows), keyless entry and move are also standard fit. The infotainment system comprises a nice-to-use 8.0-inch touchscreen Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The mid-spec Prestige trimming (available in 7-seat and 9-seat models ) bundles in the added security of ESC, hill start assist, front parking sensors and side and curtain airbags. LED head- and – tail-lights, dual sunroofs, a hands-free tailgate, a 220V notebook charger and sunblinds for your next and third-row windows would be another feature onboard. The driver’s seat also has a 2-way electric lumbar support adjust, though leatherette seats are exclusive to the 9 seat Prestige variation only.

Range-topping Limo trimming versions, available solely as 7-seaters, go the distance when it comes to features. Along with the Nappa leather-upholstered’ VIP seats’ and slick rear-seat entertainment system, Limousine trimming versions also add onboard navigation, a sweet-sounding 8-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, and Kia’s UVO e-SIM-based connected technology. The Carnival gets 37 connected aspects and the cool little is that may operate certain features via a new smartwatch program. While the program functions only when the connected phone is close by, it is nice that you can remotely switch on and pre-cool your car via some taps on your wrist. Also unique to the Limo variations is an onboard air purifier. Drivers don’t have it bad; there’s a 10-way powered chair, seat ventilation, wireless phone charging and the ease of an electric parking brake.

Should You Purchase Kia Carnival?

You would not be alone if you’re impressed by the Carnival’s engine specifications. Its BS6-compliant 2.2-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel creates 200hp (at 3,800rpm) and 440Nm (at 1,500-2,750rpm). Even though the headline numbers are remarkable, you need to find them in light of the Carnival’s weightloss.

The Carnival’s engine is easy-going and likable. You receive a steady flow of electricity and getting up to speed is undramatic. Throttle answers are good at all rates and the impression is that there is always a book of power on call. Still, the engine is not what you’d call punchy. Additionally, when you want a fast burst of power, you will say that the 8-speed torque converter automobile isn’t lightning quick. There’s a mild dip in kick down acceleration, but is the reason to whine? Not really. In the everyday grind or at gentle cruising speeds, you will discover the engine and gearbox are well in tune with your needs. The gearbox is smooth and does well to shift up punctually to maintain revs, and by extension, sound levels in check. There’s a mild buzz at 2,000rpm or so, however, overall, engine refinement is impressive. Adding to the feeling of serene is the low road noise; the 235/60 R18 MRF Wanderers don’t throw up that normal tire roar along with the relatively tall sidewalls does a fantastic job of filtering out sharp edges and ruts.

Buyers who frequent highways may even find the Kia Carnival’s high-speed manners protected and secure. It drives with confidence and you get a fantastic sense of control at the steering wheel essential at a vehicle this big. Nevertheless, the Kia Carnival is expectedly not a vehicle that enjoys quick changes in management. Turn fast and you’ll be reminded that there’s a great deal of MPV behind you.

On wavy surfaces, you’ll also notice the softness into the Carnival’s suspension setup, especially at the rear. The ride isn’t floaty a se, but rear passengers will proceed around a wee bit now and then. And the dampers could do with a firmer’rebound’ stroke. On the plus side, the low-speed bump absorption is good with the suspension filtering out the worst of our streets. The 3m-plus wheelbase and 180mm (unladen) floor clearance could result in some undesirable belly rub on speed breakers when fully loaded.

The Carnival’s sheer size might also be a point of controversy for all, particularly for those who live in congested cities such as Mumbai. A 5.8m turning radius means manoeuvering the Kia to a tight parking spot isn’t the simplest of tasks. For its part, the steering system is simple enough to twirl and you also get the extra assistance of parking sensors.

Can I buy one?

Together with the Carnival, Kia is addressing well-heeled buyers that so much had to opt for an Innova Crysta for the lack of additional options slightly higher up the price ladder. The Carnival’s not a hardy workhorse like the Innova Crysta but it distinguishes itself by providing a superior and upmarket experience that many would be happy to cover. Even’foundation’ Premium versions get enough by way of features, while top-spec Limousine trimming Carnivals are severely loaded.

The 9-seaters will be of interest to buyers with big families, but we would suggest the three-row versions that best balance practicality and relaxation. That the Carnival is nice to drive is an added plus. The way the lowly 13.9kpl ARAI fuel economy translates to real-world numbers remains to be seen, however.


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