Published on March 15th, 2022 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
KIA Carnival 2.2 Diesel Luxury MPV Test Drive Review
Has KIA managed to shake the Alphard from its No.1 position?
The first ever Carnival to arrive in Malaysia (which was under Naza Kia) was a sell-out success at a time when many Malaysians wanted the largest possible vehicle with the most number of seats at a very good price. Then, used car importers (AP) introduced the early model Toyota Alphard which very quickly became the best seller for years and the Kia Carnival and its rebadged sibling, the Naza Ria sales suffered.
Later, a brand new Carnival was introduced by KIA Motors and Naza Kia in Malaysia, the 3rd generation. It was handsome, large and well equipped. It reignited interest with buyers as it had 11 seats and did not look like a ‘bus’. This was starting to sell well until the KIA brand moved to a new brand guardian in Malaysia.
Dinamikjaya Motors Sdn Bhd which is a subsidiary of Berjaya Auto is NOW the new sole distributor for the KIA brand in Malaysia.
The first vehicle they introduced is this all new 4th generation KIA Carnival. Yes, all new, stylish looking and with features that will send the rivals back to their drawing board, this KIA is already selling better than expected.
Priced at RM196,340.80, this new Carnival arrives fully imported from Korea with 5 years warranty and free maintenance with mileage limit of up to 100,000km. It is available in 6 different colours which are Astra Blue, Silky Silver, Aurora Black Pearl, Snow White Pearl, Panthera Metal and Flare Red.
Immediate rivals start from the default best seller, the Toyota Alphard and also Vellfire which are mostly private imports via approved permit holders and selling from RM235,000 to RM295,000 (2018 to 2020 model) and both are used Japanese (JDM) units without after sales and warranty included. So, better to buy a family vehicle with full warranty and after sales like this new KIA Carnival.
This new KIA Carnival was designed at KIA’s California design studio and so it looks more streamlined over the Mercedes-Benz Vito and has won numerous awards overseas for its design, high safety standards and cabin features.
Carnival High Safety
As part of KIA’s overall commitment to safety, this KIA Carnival comes with a host of standard safety and advanced safety features. Standard safety technologies in the all-new Carnival includes 7 SRS Airbags (Front Driver & Passenger, Driver Knee, Side and Curtain), Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control System (TCS), Multi-Collision Brake Control (MCB), ISOFIX Child Restraint Anchor Points and Top Tethers as well as Hill-start Assist Control (HAC).
In terms of advanced safety, this KIA Carnival comes equipped with Blind-Spot Collision Warning (BCW) and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist (RCCA). For the BCW, under certain conditions, can detect vehicles traveling in the next lane.
Whereas for RCCA, the system helps detect most approaching cross traffic when in reverse. When approaching cross traffic is detected, the system alerts the driver.
The front passenger and driver will appreciate the large, comfortable, and very supportive front seats that come with a good range of a fore and aft adjustment. The twin A-pillars and deep windscreen make it light and airy and, courtesy of the large side windows and large door-mounted mirrors, the driver’s visibility is further improved.
Getting in and out of this Carnival is very convenient with the powered sliding doors on both sides of the vehicle. Just one touch is required on the door handle to operate the sliding doors. The second and third row seats are equally comfortable with roof mounted air-conditioning vents for great cooling effect.
Get into the full electric driver’s seat and you will find a quality cabin all around you. Fit and finish is right up with the Japanese and European rivals and there is nothing lacking. There is a real ‘wow’ factor for interior space. The interior is very well put together and has a sturdy, long-lasting feel.
The 2.2 diesel engine in this new Carnival makes you feel as if you are driving a luxury sedan as it is surprisingly quiet and though we would not say it is super-powerful, it is refined and responsive which makes for a very nice and relaxed drive.
With 199 horsepower this MPV has got good top end power and even with a full load of passengers , the mid-range torque matches its rivals. This Carnival drives very smoothly which can be attributed to the independent ‘car-like’ front and rear suspension setup.
Peak torque of 440Nm from a low 1,750 rpm is more than enough for most situations. This power is delivered to the front wheels via a fast shifting gearbox that is pretty good in most situations. When I think about, most drivers not only want a powerful engine for the sake of muscle, but in these large MPV’s, you want that get up and go to really move you when you are in a hurry or driving up to a hill top resort with the family.
This Carnival when used as 8 seat vehicle (4th row seats folded) can lug round a lot of ‘equipment’ thanks to large interior and cavernous rear space.
At first it felt big and bulky which ensured cautious driving but after a few days we got used to the large dimensions, but when parking in a mall or along a side street shop you will notice how large this KIA MPV really is. It fits in the parking box with very little room left to breathe.
Carnival Final Word
KIA designs have matured over the years and one might even say it feels more premium over its sibling, Hyundai. Yes, Hyundai Motor is the ‘big brother’ but KIA seems to be delivering better exterior designs and even better cabin designs. But this is just our humble opinion.
In many other countries, both Hyundai and KIA sell better than Japanese made alternatives and this might be a Malaysian issue. Or is it because of previous brand guardians?
KIA Grand Carnival Specifications
Engine: Smartstream CRDi four-cylinder turbodiesel
Capacity: 2,151 cc
Power: 199 PS @ 3,800 rpm
Torque: 440 Nm @ 1,750 – 2,750 rpm
Gearbox: 8-speed semi-automatic
0-100 km/h: 10.7 seconds
Top speed: 200km/h
Price: From RM196,340.80