The Kia Carnival, an unsung hero of Australian family motoring, is back in showrooms in an all-new design that complements many practical features with a welcome dash of style.

The superseded Carnival was a consistently popular choice for families wanting a full-size people-mover, but lost out on looks and luxury. Kia promises this third-generation Carnival delivers more space, comfort, technology and power.

Where it fits

The choice of people-movers in Australia isn’t big, but the Carnival is now among the most appealing. Its rivals on paper include the Honda Odyssey, Hyundai iMax Shuttle, Toyota Tarago, Volkswagen Caravelle and Chrysler Grand Voyager.

Capable of carrying eight people plus luggage, it will appeal to not only families, but also hotel operators, limousine and shuttle companies and rental fleets. There are times like family holidays when only a passenger van will do.

What it’s got

There are four variants and a choice of petrol or diesel engines, both with six-speed auto transmission.

As much as a people-mover can be made to look good, the Carnival hits the mark with a modest roof height, wrap-around headlights and Kia’s signature wide-mouth grille.

Interior finish quality has been upgraded. The extensive list of standard features includes on every variant LED daytime lights, reversing camera and audible sensors, full-length curtain airbags, hill-start helper and automatic headlights. The top-shelf Platinum comes with a big list of safety items, from radar cruise control to blind-spot and forward-collision warning systems.

Depending on budget and intended use, the Carnival has the kit to match almost any needs.

On the road

Buyers can choose the big V6 engine for outright performance, but the diesel offers a practical combination of responsiveness and low consumption in city driving – 7.7 litres per 100 kms is impressive for a two-tonne van.

Some of the second- and third-row seating can be sacrificed to increase luggage volume to a massive 4022 litres, but if an airport shuttle operator needs to add a box trailer for extra bags, unbraked towing capacity is a more-than-adequate 750kg.

Specifications

Prices: Petrol GDI (diesel CRDI +$2500 all models) S $41,490, Si $45,490, SLi $49,990, Platinum $57,490.
Engine: GDI petrol V6 3.3 litres, 206 kW, 336 Nm; CRDI diesel 4-cyl 2.2 litres, 147 kW, 440 Nm.
Transmission: 6-speed automatic, front-drive.
Fuel consumption: Petrol 11.6 litres per 100 kms average, diesel 7.7 litres per 100 kms; tank 80 litres.
Wheels/tyres: Alloy 235/65/17-235/55/19.
Dimensions: Length 5115 mm, width 1985 mm, height 1755 mm, wheelbase 3060 mm; weight 2100-2150 kg; tow capacity 750 kg unbraked trailer, 2000 kg braked; cargo capacity 960-4022 litres.

Toowong Kia is offering test drives for families at their Kia Carnival Weekend from March 6-8; head to kiacarnivalbrisbane.com.au to register.