$38,990 – $56,190
Good: Excellent amounts of room on offer; lots of features for the asking price; 2.9-litre turbo diesel = good fuel economy; has been Australia’s top selling People Mover for a number of years.
Not so Good: Handling is only class average; all seats should come standard with three-point style seat belts; styling has aged against the brands new design direction.
Design and Engineering
Good : The current shape Grand Carnival arrived Down Under in January 2006 however received its mid life facelift in June 2010. The term ‘Grand’ signifies a bigger body over the Kia Carnival (13cm longer in the wheelbase and 32cm more in overall vehicle length) and seating for eight (the smaller Carnival seats seven). Make no mistake; this is a FULL sized People Mover! Yet unlike a number of competitors the Grand Carnival doesn’t share the same body as a commercial van, so you won’t look like a delivery driver when behind the wheel.
Not so good : More bland than beautiful, but, to be fair creating a sleek looking eight seat People Mover is no easy feat. 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 (the big change is the new petrol engine under the bonnet).
Interior and Styling
Good : Plenty of space for eight adults and cargo. So even with the third row bench seat in the up position the amount of space in the rear is impressive and it grows to an enormous amount when the rear bench is folded flat into the floor. 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 Grand Carnival also features walk-through access from the driver’s seat to the second row.
The Si, SLi and the range topping Platinum feature side windows that open (electrically too) for all three rows of passengers (surprisingly not something a number of People Movers offer).
The mid spec Si grade includes a number of tasty features over the entry level S variant – most notably heated mirrors, roof rails and side folding table for rear passengers. The ‘top-dog’ Plantinum variant gets a load of standard features with a power adjustable driver’s seat, tri-zone climate control air-conditioning (that’s separate controls and outlets for the driver, front passenger and rear), power sunroof and even an electric opening tailgate.
Not so good : The Grand Carnival ticks the box for interior space and most features, however not so promising is the second-row middle passenger seat which features only a lap-belt instead of a far safer three point seatbelt.
The steering wheel adjusts for rake (up and down) but unfortunately not reach (in and out) and the big foot operated park brake encroaches on the driver’s footwell space. Overall the interior lacks a premium feel – however considering the price v. size v. features on offer we shouldn’t be too surprised that most of the plastics are of the hard and shiny variety.
Good : The June 2010 facelift saw the introduction of a new 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine replacing the 3.8-litre V6 petrol. Whilst displacement has decreased the news is almost all good as maximum power is 202kW up from 182kW for the 3.8-litre and the official combined fuel economy is 10.9-litres per 100kms against a thirsty 12.8-litres for the 3.8-litre. It is also combined with a more impressive six-speed automatic transmission gaining one more ratio than in the outgoing 3.8-litre.
Our pick of the two engines currently on offer is the 2.2-litre four cylinder turbo diesel which might ‘only’ generate 143kW of power however maximum torque is 429Nm smashing the 3.5-litre petrol’s figure of 336Nm. The diesel has strong mid-range response important for overtaking and offers adequate performance even with a full load on board. However, equally important is that the official combined fuel economy figure is only 8.1-litres per 100kms.
Not so good : The 3.5-litre V6 petrol is down on torque (pulling power) over the previous 3.8-litre (336Nm v. 343Nm). And whilst we think the diesel is the better choice for most buyers it is a little too noisy and can lack ‘oomph’ when initially taking off from the lights.
Ride and Handling
Good : When driven at a less than ‘speedy’ manner the Grand Carnival’s soft ride and only average handling is unlikely to be an issue for the target market. 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 centre car park.
Not so good : Not at its best over a twisting country road (i.e. corners) as the big Kia is relatively high and heavy and displays more body flex than ideal. At lower speeds the suspension doesn’t cope brilliantly with pot holes and bumps and at low and high speeds the steering lacks communication (and the turning circle is excessively large).
Buying and Owning
Good : From July 2010 the Grand Carnival is a safer choice than previously as all grades now come 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 across the range. Kia’s 5 year / unlimited kilometer warranty is another positive.
Not so good : The lap-only seat belt in the middle second row is a cross against passenger safety and whilst the SLi and Platinum grades come with a reverse parking camera only the range topping Platinum receives parking sensors (which come in handy as the Grand Carnival is over 5 metres in length).