The eight-seat Kia Carnival 2019 is a crossover utility vehicle, or CUV, as the company likes calling it. The third generation was originally launched in 2015, and the 2019 model can be considered a makeover or if you’d instead use the company’s term, a “Product Enhancement”. The company enjoys a comfortable 43% percent market share having sold 1962 units towards the end of April. The Honda Odyssey is the Carnival’s main rival which continues to tail in sales.
Sure, the people mover segment is comparatively small but it still sells 12,000 vehicles each year – the Carnival making up close to 50% percent of those sales. The 2019 Carnival is a winner, to begin with, and the important thing is that the has the company done enough to continue winning, i.e., selling hundreds of vehicles in 2019.
Step inside the 2019 Kia Carnival and it’s pretty hard not to notice the 8.0-inch infotainment screen which is reminiscent of many recent Kia cars. It is pretty simple to understand and use while not being overly complex. We found that the sat navigation works pretty well and you get many verbal advisories along the way like if the road is narrow, bad or if it is a school zone.
Turn on the radio and you’re pleasantly greeted by Kia’s 8-speaker JBL sound system which to our acoustically experienced ears sound pleasing. The sound is clean, rich and there is plenty of basses to go around for everyone. The overall quality is excellent regardless of if it’s being streamed via Bluetooth from your phone or coming in live from the radio. The entertainment or infotainment system supports Apple CarPlay and there is also Android Auto connectivity.
Drivers are able to control most of the vehicle’s features via the overhead buttons which do everything – from sliding open the doors to operating a powered tailgate, door activated lights, etc. The buttons near the underneath of the center console help turn on features like ventilation, heating and more.
Like its predecessor, the 2019 Carnival is loaded with lots of buttons but it never feels overwhelming or unnecessary. The buttons are carefully zoned by design so you can get right to the ones you want as opposed to having to trigger each one to figure out what they do.
On the Road Performance
After having driven the 2015 Kia Carnival, we were pretty sure that the performance couldn’t be improved any further. Our car came with a 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine capable of delivering 147kW of power at 3800rpms. The engine comes matted with Kia’s latest eight-speed automatic transmission. In essence, you’re getting an older engine but paired with a new transmission which in our experience does perform slightly better than the previous model.
The Carnival, as we have always come to expect, delivers a stronger performance than before; whether it is highway driving or going up hills, the power delivery system is well engineered. The transmission is well timed and smooth, and road noise is kept to a minimum. Plus, we felt that the brake pedals and throttle were pretty responsive too, responding to almost immediately. Though Kia didn’t build or design the Carnival for drag races, it still posts a pretty respectable score of 7 seconds to 60 km/h. Your mileage may vary though depending on how many people are seated and if you’re towing something in the back.
If you have never driven people movers before, we suggest you drive one first. It isn’t for everyone primarily because they aren’t the most pleasing vehicles to drive but as the Kia Carnival 2019 demonstrates, things are improving. To us, it was the suspension and steering which provided the most joy. You can take it through tight corners reasonably quickly and the steering is soft at least way lighter than the competition we’ve driven. It makes taking it out for a long weekend drive fun instead of a chore.
The fuel average is an important factor to consider for many buyers especially if they have a large family. The Carnival 2019 delivers around 10.8 liters for every 100-km driven, which is a slight 0.8-liter improvement over the previous model.
The diesel variant of the Carnival delivers 7.6L/100km which is a modest yet still notable 0.1L improvement over the predecessor. Though all variants come with a pretty good 80-liter tank.
The Kia Carnival 2019 is a reliable people mover and a marginal improvement over the outgoing model. It offers much more than most people will need in terms of space, power delivery and towing capacity. It is also a pleasure to drive. After all, Kia is out to prove that driving a people mover out of necessity does not have to be punishment or even a compromise. That’s why the vehicle is comfortable, looks good, is generously spacious along with offering lots of little nifty bells and whistles that add a bit more fun to driving the vehicle. All of the above points motivates us to recommend the Carnival 2019 to anyone who is looking for a comfortable people mover or someone who is looking to switch over to one because their family needs it.
Additional DetailsCar Make: Kia
Car Make: Carnival
Make Year: 2019