Kia Carnival Ltd 2008 Review

Kia Carnival Ltd 2008 Review

Kia Carnival Ltd fq

Being the leader of a samba band (AKSamba), driving a car called a Carnival is very coincidental. In fact, the Carnival is so large I could take along seven more of the 50 band members to a gig, and fit some instruments in the back. Or some dancing girls in feathers and bikinis

When you’re loaded down with drums and dancing girls the electrically opening side doors and tailgate are a real help. I thought these would be a useless gimmick, but I used them a lot and not just times that included impressing friends. While walking back to the car I used the remote to open whichever door I needed and it’s ready for me to put things in by the time I arrived to the car. Then I pressed another button and the door closed while I got in the car, put the seat belt on and started it up. I never thought I’d relish laziness so much.

I also never thought I’d say this about a Kia, but the 3.8-litre V6 engine sounds fantastic and has 182kW and 343Nm – plenty of power to pull even the most amply built musicians. This is transferred to the front wheels via a five-speed automatic gearbox with sequential sports shift. Kia quotes 12.8l/100km fuel economy for the combined cycle and 302g CO2/km.

The driving position is commanding. An eight-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat offers a comfy position, but not much lateral support. All eight seats get leather and are bathed in sound from an eight-speaker Infinity sound system connected to the six-stacker CD/MP3/radio unit. This, along with cruise control, can be controlled from the steering wheel.

Above the rear view mirror is a trip computer which features a compass, average fuel economy, and kilometres before you need to fill it up again. Above that is a fold down mirror that allows you to keep an eye on everyone in the back, and the buttons for the electric doors, tailgate and sunroof. Even the rear quarter-lights are electric, controlled via switches on the armrest.

The Carnival’s exterior styling is a tad bland compared to some other MPVs (e.g. Citroen’s Picasso¬†– read the review here), but the engine’s responsiveness and power more than makes up for that. Its shape reminds me of the first Renault Espace that defined the MPV segment back in 1984.

It served us very well in our three-day test, picking up new team member Ben from the airport in rush hour, delivering a Classic Car subscription prize (a huge roll of garage flooring) to Whangaparaoa, and driving around town gathering trophies, lecterns and other bits and bobs for this weekend’s NZ Drift Series at Manfeild.

The Carnival fits a mammoth 912 litres of storage, and that’s because it’s a large car. At 5.13m long and almost 2m wide check your garage first! The seating configuration is versatile with the third row being able to be folded into a rear cavity to create a flat floor, and the second row can be removed completely forming a space of almost van-like proportions.

Stopping all two tonnes of the Carnival is accomplished with hydraulic vacuum power-assisted ABS brakes with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and electronic stability control (ESP). Ventilated disks at the front and solid discs at the back do their best and the Carnival Ltd’s 235/60R17 tyres (on 17-inch mags) seem to haul the Kia up fairly smartly. These tyres can’t cope with quick changes of direction, though, the main gripe of the Carnival being early understeer (mental note: drive slower around corners).

Lots of thought has gone into making the Carnival very family-friendly. The electronic doors are a real asset to those enduring a large tribe of kids, and short people who may struggle to reach the Carnival’s tall tailgate. The tri-zone climate control is helpful for carsick children who tend to want a very specific temperature in the back. The vents come from the roof and under the seat and can be varied altered using the roof mounted control behind the passenger seat. Pop-up trays in the rear and independent reclining/sliding second-row seats add to the versatility. There’s even a fold-up expandable table in between the driver and passenger with a further four cup holders. That makes 15 cup/bottle holders in total (I think — I counted three times). And that’s not all the internal storage as there are large bins and a glovebox in the front.

If I had five kids and a dog (no, that’s not my name for a ‘significant other’), I would definitely be looking at the Carnival as a comfortable and convenient way of transporting them to and from the various activities that kids do these days. Including band practice in their feathers and bikinis.

Click through to the next page for full specifications on the Kia Carnival.

Price: from $49,950 (EX is $43,550)

What we like

  • Access via sliding electric doors
  • V6 power
  • Comfort
  • Features
  • Space
  • Warranty — 5 years, 100,000km

What we don’t like

  • Understeer
  • Looks bland compared to, e.g. Citroen Picasso
  • No external audio connection (e.g. iPod)

Engine 3.8-litre V6

Displacement (cc) 3778

Maximum power 182 kW / 6000 rpm

Maximum torque 343 Nm / 3500 rpm

Transmission 5-speed automatic with sequential sports shift


Front MacPherson strut with coil springs and anti-roll bar

Rear Multi link with coil spring


Power rack & pinion


Front Ventilated disc

Rear Solid disc

Braking system Hydraulic vacuum power-assisted ABS brakes with EBD and ESP


Electronic stability program

Keyless entry with burglar alarm

Dual front and side curtain airbags

Driver and passenger seatbelt pretensioner and load limiter

Front seat belt height adjuster

Back-up warning system

Electronic folding heated outside mirrors

ISO fix child seat anchors

Energy absorbing steering column

Electronic door over-ride systems (3)


8 passenger seating

Removable second row seats, and sinking type third row seats

Front and rear height adjustable with front tilt adjustable head rests

Leather seats, steering wheel and gear shift trim

Metal insert film on centre fascia, door switch panel, and sliding door waistline

Power driver’s seat (8 way)

Overhead console including map lamps and conversation mirror

Electronic sunroof


Alloy wheels (space saver spare) 235/60 R17

Roof rack (without crossbar)

High mounted stop lamp

Front fog lamps

Rear wiper and washer with intermittent function

Front variable intermittent front wipers with time adjuster and rain sensor

Glass type antenna


Dual power sliding side doors

Power tailgate

Radio + cassette + 6 stacker CD + MP3 + 8 Infinity speakers

Audio remote control on steering wheel

Engine immobiliser

Power steering

Electric chromatic rear view mirror

Trip computer with compass

Cruise control

Tilt adjustable steering column

Front and sliding door power windows with driver’s side auto up down

Power quarter glass

Tri-zone air conditioning

Electric rear window defroster with timer

Front passenger folding table

Front and rear seat back tables

Front row height adjustable arm rest

Front and rear power outlets

Front and rear room lamps, cargo room lamps and courtesy step lamps

Driver & passenger sun visors with illuminated vanity mirror

High visibility instrument cluster


Overall length (mm) 5,130

Overall width (mm) 1,985

Overall height (mm) 1,830

Wheelbase (mm) 3,020

Minimum ground clearance (mm) 167

Kerb weight min. / max. (kg) 2,009 / 2,141

Minimum turning radius (m) 12.1

Fuel tank capacity (litres) 80

Cargo area (litres) 912

Gross vehicle weight 2,780

Words and photos Darren Cottingham

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