$36,990 – $36,990
Good: NOTE: DISCONTINUED IN AUSTRALIA JUN 2011 Lots of space inside; lots of features for the price; when teamed with the Grand Carnival it’s been Australia’s top selling People Mover for many years.
Not so Good: Ageing styling; poor fuel economy; average handling; lap-sash seatbelt for second row centre seat.
Design and Engineering
Good : The current shape Carnival arrived Down Under in January 2006 however received its mid life facelift in June 2010. Whilst smaller than the extra big Grand Carnival, the Carnival is no shrinking violet, being of similar size to Toyota’s Tarago and Honda’s Odyssey. Compared to its similar sized competitors the Carnival has an advantage of eight instead of seven seats.
Not so good : The current model is no spring chicken with the mid 2010 year exterior changes amounting to not much more than indicator warnings in the exterior mirrors, a refreshed grille and new wheel designs.
Interior and Styling
Good: Seating for eight. The second row isn’t a bench, but three individual bucket seats (much nicer) which can also be removed to create a huge van like flat space behind the two front row bucket seats. The Carnival also features walk-through access from the driver’s seat to the second row. Side windows open (electrically too) for all three rows of passengers (surprisingly not something a number of People Movers offer). Plenty of storage compartments and drink holders, plus Aux and USB audio input with iPod compatibility.
Not so good : The interior is as bland as the exterior and there’s a cheap look and feel to interior plastics. 2nd row seats don’t fold flat, they only recline (however, they are removable). The steering wheel adjusts for rake (up and down) but not reach (in and out) adjustment so finding the perfect driving position is unlikely.
Good : The Carnival soldier’s on with a 2.7L V6 petrol engine that generates 139kW of power and 249Nm of torque. On paper these figures are more impressive than most competitors’ offerings.
Not so good : The V6 is thirsty against other petrol powered competitors and even more so against a number of turbo diesel offerings available elsewhere (including Kia’s larger Grand Carnival which is available with a 2.9L turbo diesel). The official combined fuel economy figure is 11.0L per 100kms (too high for the power on offer, but not really surprising considering this is an ageing petrol V6 engine linked to a four-speed only automatic transmission and the Carnival is a heavy 2,115kg).
Ride and Handling
Good: Driven as a two tonne people mover should be driven (i.e. not too quickly) the Grand Carnival’s soft ride and only average handling should be no deal breaker for most buyers. Road noise is kept to a minimum over most surfaces and the light steering is a benefit when negotiating a tight spot in the shopping mall.
Not so good : At lower speeds the suspension doesn’t cope brilliantly with pot holes and bumps and at both low and high speeds the steering lacks communication (and the turning circle is overly big). Excessive body-roll when pushed, noticeable body flex and the Carnival is heavy – as you may have guessed by now, it’s not the sportiest of People Movers. Better on the straight ahead open road.
Buying and Owning
Good : From July 2010 the Carnival is a safer choice as it now comes standard with six airbags (dual front, front side and full length curtain airbags). Anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution and electronic stability control is also standard equipment. Lots of features as standard PLUS a 5-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.
Not so good : Fuel economy is higher than the competition; a lap-only seat belt in the middle second row is a cross against passenger safety and the spare wheel is a temporary space saver instead of a full size wheel.
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