Proof that you can’t keep a good people mover down, Kia’s impressive fourth-generation Carnival has held onto the title of best people mover yet again. That puts it in front of new and refreshed competition, like co-finalists Volkswagen T6.1 Transporter and the new Hyundai Staria. 

The Carinval continued to show its overall class and the benefits of having a purpose-built people mover that isn’t based on a commercial vehicle.

Much of the Carnival’s strength comes down to its packaging. No all-wheel drive means the floor is low-slung and flat, allowing passengers loads of space and comfort. The interior is highly adaptable as well and still carries impressive boot space when the third row is in use.

It’s also very comfortable, with an Australian-developed suspension tune yielding a nice mixture of ride comfort, bump absorption and body control. 

The Kia Carnival range has four grades, all of which are front-wheel drive and automatic only, with a choice of a 216kW/355Nm 3.5-litre petrol V6 or 148kW/440Nm 2.2-litre turbo diesel, which costs $2000 more.

Entry level grade is called S, which starts at $47,480 and offers basic specification in terms of trim and technology, however, it still gets the packaging and bones that make the Carnival such an effective people mover.

The Si ($52,490) ups the ante somewhat with a larger infotainment display, climate control and a handful of other upgrades, but it’s not until you get to SLi ($57,780) where you gain electric sliding doors and leatherette seating materials.

This spec also gets an electric tailgate and keyless entry with push-button start, which no doubt makes everyday usage a little easier. And that’s why the SLi – providing you can afford – is our recommendation in the Carnival range.

There’s also the all-you-can-eat Platinum specification at $65,580 which will suit some budgets and tastes, but doesn’t seem as good value for money as SLi. 

Sam Purcell

Sam Purcell has been writing about cars, four-wheel driving and camping since 2013, and obsessed with anything that goes brum-brum longer than he can remember. Sam joined the team at CarAdvice/Drive as the off-road Editor in 2018, after cutting his teeth at Unsealed 4X4 and Pat Callinan’s 4X4 Adventures.

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