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Driven: More gear for refreshed Kia Carnival

Showtime: The updated Carnival enjoys a virtual monopoly in the people-mover sector

Eight-speed auto and AEB for Kia Carnival, but prices up across the range


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3 May 2018

KIA Motors Australia (KMAu) has launched the facelifted version of its Carnival people-mover, with the update ushering in a new eight-speed automatic transmission and additional safety equipment across the range.

While the Carnival is one of the Korean car-maker’s most important – and one of its top-selling – models, Kia’s local management says it could be doing better among private buyers.

So far this year, Kia has sold 1962 Carnivals to the end of April, about three times more than its nearest competitor, the Honda Odyssey, on 653 units.

More than 60 per cent of Carnival sales are currently made to rental companies as well as government and business fleets.

KMAu chief operating officer Damien Meredith told GoAuto that additional sales could be netted outside the people-mover’s traditional markets of corporate and rental fleet purchasers.

“With private sales, our volume is not great in the base model,” Mr Meredith said. “We’d like to see sales for that entry model increase. It’s interesting – when we see families come in to buy a people-mover, they very rarely scrimp and save. They take a view that their kids need to be in there for probably ten years and they want the car to be safe and spacious and well appointed.

“We think we can probably get a little more out of the first and second-level vehicles.”

Mr Meredith admitted that the company could do more to attract buyers that are currently looking at second-hand vehicles to instead look at a Carnival.

“We probably do a little bit more to try and convince those second-hand purchasers that if you buy a new one you’re getting this, this and this,” he said. “I think there’s a gap between that $30,000 to $40,000 with those cars.

We’re happy with the numbers and we’ll continue to look at opportunities, but it’s been an amazing car for us.”

Mr Meredith said that the Carnival was one of the company’s best performers in Australia, and not just on a sales front.

“Number one is Rio and number two is Carnival in terms of (brand) recognition,” he said. “It has lifted the brand in regards to what we represent. They see a Carnival now, and they see a quality vehicle. We’re really happy with what’s happened in the last two or so years, and that it’ll continue to be a success for us for the rest of its lifecycle.”

The eight-seat Carnival, which debuted in 2015, has received a raft of detail changes across its interior, safety, specification levels, mechanicals and exterior.

Prices on the eight-strong range have increased by $1000 for the base S diesel and petrol variants, by $1500 on the two top-spec Platinums, and by $2500 on the mid-grade Si and SLi grades in both fuel types.

The range now kicks off at $42,490 plus on-road costs for the 3.3-litre six-cylinder petrol S, and tops out at $62,790 for the 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel Platinum.

Cosmetically, the front bumper bar has been tidied up and a revised grille added, along with revised surrounds for its daytime running lights, while the rear lower valance has also been tweaked and a chrome dress strip added. The tail-lights have also been redesigned within the confines of the same lamp unit.

The Platinum grades also receive Kia’s distinctive ‘ice cube’ LED daytime running light arrays.

All three sizes of alloy rims – 17 , 18 and 19 inch – have been updated, as well.

On the inside, the Carnival has lost its foot-operated parking brake in favour of an electronic unit, which necessitated a revised centre console and bin. The multimedia systems across all grades have been updated, with a 7.0-inch screen replacing a 5.0-inch version on the S, and an 8.0-inch unit for the rest of the range.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, along with enhanced satellite navigation, have been added to the system, while a JBL-branded nine-speaker set has also been added.

Dash materials and seat trims have also received an update.

On a safety front, all Carnivals are now offered with high- and low-speed autonomous emergency braking, switchable lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control as standard.

The top grade Platinum also gets with blind-spot detection, lane change assist that alerts the driver to vehicles approaching from the rear at high speeds in adjacent lanes, high beam assist and rear cross-traffic alert.

Mechanically, the Carnival range now sports an eight-speed automatic transmission across both engine types and all variants, while the suspension system has undergone further calibration for Australian roads.

The eight-speed automatic is a unique specification for the Carnival, and has allowed Kia to post lower combined fuel economy figures for both powertrains.

The 3.3-litre V6 petrol engine still makes 206kW and 336Nm, and now returns a claimed 10.6 litres per 100km, which is 08.L/100km better than before, while CO2 emissions are rated at 252g/km.

The 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine, meanwhile, produces 147kW and 440Nm, and returns 7.6L/100km, which is a 0.1L/100km reduction, and it emits 202g/km of CO2.

Stiffer front coil springs have been added to the suspension system, along with a new damping tune for both front and rear shocks. It is understood that the damper tune supplied from the factory for the 2015 launch varied subtly from the specifications supplied by Kia Australia, but this update corrects that issue while improving the Carnival’s ride.

The stiffer front springs, meanwhile, are specific to the Australian-spec Carnival, which is sold in the United States as the Sedona. It is understood that additional body-in-white bracing has also been added to the Carnival’s platform, along with a new front subframe, but specifics were not available.

2018 Kia Carnival pricing*
S GDI$42,490(+$1000)
S CRDI$44,990(+$1000)
Si GDI$47,990(+$2500)
Si CRDI$50,490(+$2500)
SLi CRDI$54,990(+$2500)
SLi GDI$52,490(+$2500)
Platinum GDI$60,290(+$1500)
Platinum CRDI$62,790(+$1500)
*Excludes on-road costs

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