3 May 2021

Kia Carnival 2021 Car Review

The all-new Kia Carnival for 2021 heralds the arrival of the brand’s fourth-generation flagship MPV and is designed to appeal to a wide audience through its leading combination of innovation, space, flexibility and style.

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Kia Carnival 2021
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Kia Carnival 2021
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Kia Carnival 2021
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Kia Carnival 2021
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Kia Carnival 2021
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Kia Carnival 2021

Based on Kia’s newly developed larger platform that’s shared with the new Kia Sorento SUV, the Carnival is more refined, roomy and capable than ever, and offers much greater space and efficiency than its predecessors.

On a family road trip we found that this new MPV is an immensely practical option for families who are looking for a sophisticated, cutting-edge way of getting from A to B.

A fun-filled interior

From the dramatic ‘tiger nose’ grille stretching across the front to incorporate the stunning LED headlights, the new Carnival reflects SUV-inspired forms and surfaces, despite being an MPV. This includes the eye-catching C-pillar signature chrome fin design element bearing a subtle diamond pattern, as well as the ‘island roof’ sitting above the blacked-out A and B pillars. Their combined effect adds to the Carnival’s imposing road presence.

The new Carnival even lets you take the role of pilot via the on-board communication system that utilises a microphone above the driver to broadcast their voice through the vehicle’s speakers!

Versatility at its finest

With an increased wheelbase and larger body, the new Carnival can easily seat eight occupants across three rows of seating. There’s several great touches that have been added, such as the second row centre seat, which can either face forwards or rearwards to place a baby seat for additional safety.

The second row centre seat can also be removed altogether to allow more space for the outer seats to take full advantage of their ‘Long Sliding’ ability, with 140mm forwards and 700mm backwards motion.

There is also ‘Table Mode’ that allows the second row centre seat to be folded out to a flat surface and slide backwards to create a table in between the outer seats.

For occupants that need to charge an electronic device, the Deluxe and Premium models are equipped with seven USB outlets (compared to just five in the entry-level EX), plus a wireless smartphone charger.

The deep boot storage capacity is a generous 627 litres with all the eight seats in use, and the load depth (lift-over height) is 26mm lower than previous model.

Surprising on-road ability

The driver’s position does feel more elevated, a bit like you would if you were driving a mini bus, but the drive and feel of the carnival is far from it. With all eight seats occupied and almost every inch of the cargo space utilised, the Carnival still felt planted to the road, although you could feel the extra weight around corners. The braking distance also noticeably increased due to the added weight. Thankfully, the surround camera views and sliding doors made parking this wide MPV easy.  

Kia’s new Smartstream™ 2.2-litre diesel engine has seen a significant change to make it lighter, with less friction and better cooling which, in turn, enhances efficiency and reduces emissions which is significantly lower than the outgoing model. The Carnival has a fuel efficiency rating of 6.5L/100km, and a CO2 rating of 170g/km.

A safety-conscious MPV

The new Carnival has been designed to be among the safest cars on the road, with all models benefitting from a comprehensive range of safety features developed by Kia under its Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) programme.

Standard safety features across the range include seven airbags, Forward Collision Avoidance Assist (FCA) with Junction View, and Car, Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection, Lane Keep Assist (LKA) and Smart Cruise Control (SCC).

A new Around View Monitor (AVM) and Rear Occupant Alert with Sensor are exclusive to the Deluxe and Premium models.

The Kia Carnival was given a five-star ANCAP rating in 2021.


The Carnival is the latest car to join the surge of new and updated vehicles to be launched by Kia over the past 12 months, which includes the Seltos, Sorento and Stonic, as well as the Niro Hybrid/EV, Rio and the awesome Stinger.

A blessing or not for Kia, the new large eight-seater MPV class doesn’t have many New Zealand new competitors. Left in the MPV space is the Honda Odyssey S from $45,990 (+ORC) and the Honda Odyssey Premium model, which is priced the same as the base Carnival at $59,990 (+ORC).

It’s the perfect vehicle to transport a large family in safely, and we had no complaints from any of our passengers.

At a glance


Kia Carnival


2.2-litre Smartstream Diesel


From $59,990 (+ORC)

ANCAP safety rating

5 star


148kW, 440Nm


Eight-speed auto

Fuel economy/CO2

6.5L/100km, 170g/km

Towing capacity

2,000kg (Braked), 750kg (Unbraked)


2WD (Front)

Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload

627 litres

Safety systems

  • Forward Collision Avoidance Assist (FCA) - Car / Pedestrian / Cyclist / Junction
  • Blind Spot Collision Avoidance Assist (BCA)
  • Multi-Collision Brake (MCB)
  • Rear Cross Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist (RCCA)
  • Lane Keep Assist (LKA) - Line / Road Edge
  • Lane Follow Assist (LFA)
  • Driver Attention Alert (DAA)
  • Seven airbags

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