Living with this behemoth sure has its challenges, but there are some rich rewards on offer too.
If you are of the opinion that bigger is better, then the Kia Carnival is definitely a car that features on your radar. At over 5 metres long and nearly 2 metres wide, it’s larger than even cars like the Toyota Fortuner and MG Gloster, both of which are more expensive. Sure, a short first drive gives you some idea of what a car’s like, but putting this behemoth to work in the real world has given us a much clearer picture of what it’s like to live with the Carnival. And a lot of things boil down to its size.
First up, the story from the driver’s seat. Obviously, it’s in the city where you feel this car’s size the most. I’m primarily a motorcyclist, so squeezing into the tiniest gaps in traffic is like second nature to me, and a lot of that translates over to four wheels as well. But you can forget about it in the Carnival. Driving this car in traffic is a game of patience – you wait for a large enough gap to form and then ease your way into it. But the car’s size also works in your favour, in a way. The Carnival cuts a rather authoritarian figure on the road, and a quick flash or two from the powerful LED headlights is enough to stop many people and cars in their tracks, before they cut you off.
ROLLING PIN: Soft ride and cushy tyres flatten out the road underneath.
Things are more relaxed out on the highway. The car was taken to Pune and back for a shoot, and it felt perfectly at home on the ruthlessly speed-governed expressway, sitting steady at a comfortable (and mandated) 100kph cruise. This isn’t a particularly smooth or level stretch of road, but 18-inch wheels and cushy high-profile tyres have a way of helping you forget about that. The ride is just as comfortable even at city speeds, and as long as you remember what sort of car you’re driving and keep corner speeds in check, the soft suspension set-up isn’t really an issue.
LOUNGE ACCESS: Superb rear seat comfort once fully reclined.
The sheer scale of this car translates onto the interiors as well, and as if that wasn’t enough, two sunroofs and beige upholstery also do their part to make the cabin feel like a seriously airy place. The second row is the star of the show. With the front passenger seat pushed forward and the left rear seat in its fully reclined position, it’s a level of comfort that’s hard to match at this price point. And that leg rest can really be quite comfortable.
DECIBEL BLAST: A/C blower is very loud in initial phases of cooling.
Niggles? The armrests could be a little longer for better support, the AC cools well, but the blower can get quite loud in the early phases of cabin cooling. The foot-operated parking brake is painful to use and probably won’t be kind to your shins in a bad accident.
HOLD IT RIGHT THERE!: Foot-operated parking brake is cumbersome to use.
Overall, the interior doesn’t come across as cutting edge, and the lack of features like ventilated seats stands out (Limousine Plus variant gets them). But if you’re not hung up on having all the latest gizmos, and have a chauffeur to drive you around, road transport is a thoroughly comfortable and soothing affair in the back seat of the Kia Carnival.
Kia Carnival long term review, first report
Kia Carnival review, test drive