Kia Grand Carnival Minivan: The King of People Carriers

20th April 2017 BY
   Share on Facebook Tweet LinkedIn Email
kia carnival review, minivan review, minivan rental dubai

Quite the looker for a mom car

Kia Grand Carnival Minivan

While the rest of the automotive world tinkers with innovations designed the please the driver, Kia Motors decided to turn this dynamic on its head for the Grand Carnival. Most of the innovation on this people carrier is targeted at making the passengers as comfortable as possible while utilizing every single square centimeter of space to its fullest possible extent.

The Oxford dictionary defines a ‘people carrier’ as “a motor vehicle with three rows of seats, enabling the transport of more passengers than the average car”, without any mention of SUVs that also come with the third row of seating. While the Oxford dictionary may be a little behind the times, Kia, apparently, is not.

The maker of mid-size and large SUVs like the Sorento and the Mohave – against which mere people carriers have to compete – clearly understands that effective use of space, combined with comfort and ride quality, are the over-riding priorities for its people carriers such as the Carens and the Grand Carnival. And so it is with the Grand Carnival from the Carlease stable (in fact, Carlease is one of the few car hire companies to offer cars in this segment).

kia carnival review, minivan review, minivan rental dubai

My, what a big trunk you have there

Kia has decided to shift the spare tire to a space below the cabin. While keeping the spare wheel accessible, this has also created a significant well of space in the rear of the car, enabling the storage of a large amount of luggage even with the third row of seats being used.

Stand-up seats

The third row, as in most SUVs, folds down flat to provide an even surface for storage. But the true innovation is in the second row of seats, which, instead of rolling forward into a ball as in most vehicles, are designed to stand up straight, flat against the back of the forward row. This, in conjunction with the wide sliding access doors on the sides, creates an immense entry cavern through which even a large six-footer can step through with ease to get to the rear seats as well as exit the car.

kia carnival, minivan car hire dubai, kia carnival review uae

Enough room for a stretch (or a nap)

Not only does the stand-up second row improve accessibility, it also creates a lovely large space between the first and third rows of seats that could be used in multiple innovative ways for, well, a family carnival! We wish Kia could have provided a swiveling second row seats that could be turned to face the third row; large as the Grand Carnival is, however, that would have required some complex design engineering.

Overall, we were thoroughly impressed with the innovative ways in which Kia has managed passenger and luggage space in the Grand Carnival. In some of the people carriers we’ve used, this comes at the cost of leg-room. Not with the Grand Carnival, though. All three rows of seats – whether you choose the two, four, six, seven or eight people configuration – have enough room between them for fully grown adults.

Smooth and comfortable ride

We’ve spent a fair bit of time on the space available because spatial innovation is the defining theme of the 2017 Grand Carnival. Our first thought was that this would be a great airport pick-up vehicle that the better breed of hotel could deploy for group travelers. But when we actually drove it for a few days, we changed our perception – the Grand Carnival is the perfect moving container for a large family making long journeys.

One of the reasons for this change of heart is the ride quality. When a vehicle is filled with, say, six adults and their weekend bags, the load on the suspension usually means a really bumpy ride. Not so in the Grand Carnival. The high-performance dampers on the suspension provide a surprisingly comfortable and stable ride, while also making the handling of the vehicle smooth. The 17-inch tires help too.

Dual-zone independent air-conditioning takes care of keeping fussy passengers happy with the climate control options, while a plethora of airbags combined with electronic stability control increases their safety. Parking sensors at the rear do their job quietly and efficiently.

Enough power for any load

Kia has equipped the Grand Carniv with the Lambda II 3.3-litre V6 power plant with dual CVVT. That’s continuous variable valve timing, which keeps power output stable at any engine speed while reducing emissions. The Lambda II’s three-stage intake system helps increase fuel efficiency, while still delivering enough power to carry two passengers or eight. The Grand Carnival is one of the most powerful cars in its class.

kia carnival review, minivan review, minivan rental dubai

Ain’t nobody got time for busy center consoles

There are enough electronics to keep the standard driver happy. We weren’t impressed with cruise control because road gradients induced speed variations of up to 8 kph.

While the sound system delivers enjoyable output, you probably won’t be that thrilled with the UX of the system. Kia should explain, for a start, why it uses rocker switches that perform one solitary function. Once you get used to the clunky interface, however, you can stream your music via Bluetooth, USB or audio jack. Phone connectivity is rock solid too.

Kia has installed a fold-out convex mirror where the sunglass container is usually found. The mirror gives the driver a 360-degree view of the cabin, probably to ensure that the kids aren’t spilling anything. Not that it would matter if they were; Kia says the seat fabric have “easy-to-clean, stainless technology”. We didn’t have the guts to actually try it, though!

kia carnival review, minivan review, minivan rental dubai

Watcha gonna do with all the trunk?

Most people carriers blend into the background on the road, with other drivers dismissing them with a smirk. We are proud to report that we drew a large number of surprised and covetous looks with the Grand Carnival.

Roomy and spaciousFuel efficiency
Lots of luggage space
Great ride quality
Quiet interior
Engine power just right with any load


The People Carrier shootout

 Kia Grand CarnivalChrysler Grand VoyagerHonda OdysseyToyota Previa
Weight (kg)1,9942,0652,0641,850
Engine3.3L V6 FWD3.8L V6 FWD3.5L V6 FWD3.5L V6 FWD
Power (bhp)276197250268
Fuel Efficiency (L/100km)9.612.010.211.4
0-100 kph (sec.)
Top Speed (kph)190180192208


Further Reading


Drive Arabia



Further Reading

2018 Kia Stinger – The Internet’s Favourite Car of the Year!

Would you believe the internet’s favourite car of the year was a Kia??? Who would’ve thought! Then again, this ain’t your grandma’s Kia.

Kia Sportage: A rugged off-roader evolves into an urban warrior

The refreshed 2017 Sportage not only looks good but also continues to be the shining star in the Kia fleet.

Chevrolet Cruze 1.8L: A Compact that Walks the Middle Path

The Cruze gets you from point A to point B with minimal fuss. And the sound system will rock your world.

MEED-Gulf Capital SME Awards