The new family van standard


It’s a wonder how you can find a good number of Kia Grand Carnivals on the road. And even with minor upgrades for 2018, the Grand Carnival is still the standard for families to transport their loved ones with more comfort and style.

Fast Times tested the 2.2EX AT Diesel variant that seats seven persons comfortably. After driving it around town and going to nearby provinces, I understand why there are many Carnivals out there.

Perfect combination
The third-generation Carnival has found the right combination of size and driving dynamics, and is stretching the limits of what a drivable van should be, at more than five meters in length and almost two meters in width. The height is pretty normal at 1.75 meters and will not pose any problem when parking in buildings.

The passenger door on both sides opens with electronic assistance and is a very great feature, especially if you are carrying heavy bags. Even the rear tailgate can be smartly opened.

With the seven-seat format, the whole passenger cabin is very spacious and getting in and out of the last row was not a problem. When you need to load big boxes, the second row can be moved back-to-back with the front seats, and the third row goes flush into the floor. It’s definitely a big plus to have a level floor when loading boxes inside the Grand Carnival.

Comfortable driving dynamics
I was amazed that despite the diesel engine having a displacement of 2.2 liters, it packed 190 hp and 441 Nm of torque, thanks though to the variable geometry turbo, an intercooler, and the common rail direction injection (CRDi) system. Combine the terrific engine with a very good six-speed automatic transmission, this van can generate a lot of smiles from its drivers.

The long wheelbase makes for a very comfortable ride and dampens road irregularities well. Even with low-profiled tires on-18 inch alloy wheels, the ride is soft and supple like a luxury car. The only problem I see with the long wheelbase is the van will not change direction as nimbly as you want.

However, Kia engineers still were able to give the Grand Carnival a good handling package, which can give drivers enough confidence to go through mountain roads. They also made the big van corner flat around the corners, so you feel more stable around those bends. Kia attributed that to the high performance dampers, and they do work!

Safety above all
Kia didn’t hold back on what a family needs to have a very safe vehicle to ride in. So they equipped the Grand Carnival with dual airbags upfront with anti-lock brakes, brake assist, and electronic brake force distribution. And it has disc brakes for all the four wheels.

The van also has electronic stability control, which applies the brakes on the inside corner so it can turn in faster. And when you are caught in traffic on an uphill road, the hill start assist control kicks in with the brakes applied automatically.

Backing up the big van is easier with the rear camera, parking sensors, and the rear cross traffic alert system. A blind spot detection system is also employed in the higher variant, while an immobilizer and keyless entry are good additions to make this van feel more upscale.

Classic styling
The Grand Carnival’s styling hasn’t aged, and is as pretty and timeless as when it was first released in 2015. This is a sign that this van will hold its price for a long time. The front lights, which also follow the road and have daytime running lights, have grown in size horizontally but is still modest in height, giving it a sleek look. The big grill upfront is well designed and the lower bumper design with fog lights perfectly compliments the whole look.

The top-side rails and its rear sloping roof line and rear spoiler, also disguises the long length of the body. The Carnival also has generous window openings to make you feel less claustrophobic.

The curved rear window is a great design along with the rear valence, while the tail lights are simple and compliments the front design.

My score
I give the Kia Carnival a score of 9/10 but would appreciate a better-sounding audio system, and a bigger diesel engine so it can take heavy loads up to places like Baguio City. For urban driving though, the 2.2-liter diesel engine is more than enough.

So if you have P2.2 million, the Kia Grand Carnival can be a good investment.


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