TEST DRIVE: Carnival fun for the family

News

Korean auto-maker Kia has always been a strong contender in Thailand’s niche market, doing so well that it even started assembling models locally last year.

To celebrate the first anniversary of local production, distributor Yontrakit Kia Motors has introduced the Kia Carnival CEO II – a pretty interesting choice in the mid-sized MPV (multi-purpose vehicle) category.

The CEO II is priced at Bt1.694 million and is the entry-level model of the Carnival line-up in Thailand. The other models here are the Carnival TLC (Bt1.991 million), the Carnival Flagship (Bt2.099 million) and the Carnival Platinum (Bt2.189 million).

The Carnival is larger than the MPVs commonly seen on the roads, such as the popular Toyota Wish, Honda Stream or Chevrolet Zafira, which are considered “compact” MPVs and powered by 1.8- and 2.0-litre engines.

The Carnival is powered by a 2.4-litre V6 that pumps out 163 horsepower and 208Nm of torque, and is mated to a four-speed automatic transmission.

The engine is punchy and sounds more like a sports-car engine than an MPV engine. It certainly gives you the urge to go faster, but the fact that this is a tall MPV isn’t encouraging for sporty driving.

Perhaps a diesel engine would be more appropriate for the Carnival since the superior fuel economy and flexibility is ideal for family-oriented MPVs.

The suspension – struts up front and trailing arms at the rear with gas shocks and stabilisers front and rear – offers a smooth ride, effectively absorbing cracks and bumps on the road.

Braking power comes from ventilated discs in front and drums at the rear, with ABS as standard.

The versatility of the Carnival is what customers will be drawn by.

Kia says there are leather-upholstered seats for seven people, but six would be more accurate since there are only six seatbelts and the third-row seat is too small for three people. The seats can also be folded in a large number of configurations. For example, the two second-row seats (with two armrests each) can be turned around 180 degrees to face the rear, creating a small “living room”. The backrests can also be folded down and transformed into a small table. There’s a small drawer under the front passenger seat that is large enough to store a pair of shoes, and there are small foldable trays in the backrest of the front seats.

The cabin has plenty of space and air vents for every row of passengers, besides the main vents up front. There are also plenty of cup-holders around the cabin – 14 including the six on the trays and tables. There are also many ashtrays, as well as two extra power outlets.

Convenience and entertainment features include a 10.4-inch LCD screen, a DVD-MP3 player, a memory-card reader (for digital cameras), with remote and wireless headphone.

The console looks pretty basic and the attempt to make it more attractive by adding wooden trim is not too successful – it still looks pretty boring.

As far as safety goes, the Carnival gets a five-star rating from the American NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) for frontal (driver and front passenger) and side (front passenger and middle passengers) impacts.

Standard features include dual front airbags, stainless-steel steps, powered windows (front pair and third-row vent screen) and mirrors, cruise control, powered driver’s seat (8-way), vanity lights for all three rows, audio system with additional controls on steering wheel, etc.

At its price, the Carnival CEO II is a great option for those who can spare the extra money for a larger MPV. If only a diesel engine was offered …

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Specifications

Kia Carnival CEO II

Engine: 24-valve V6

Displacement: 2,398cc

Bore and stroke: 78.4×82.8mm

Compression ratio: n/a

Maximum power: 163hp/6,000rpm

Maximum torque: 208Nm/4,500rpm

Transmission: 4-speed automatic

Ratios: 2.842/1.495/1.000/0.731

Final drive ratio: 4.324

Suspension (front/rear): MacPherson struts, gas shocks, anti-roll bar/trailing arms, coil springs, gas shocks, anti-roll bar

Steering: Powered rack-and-pinion

Minimum turn: 12.8 metres

Brakes (front/rear): Vented discs/drums with ABS

Dimensions (mm)

Length: 4,925

Width: 1,900

Height: 1,805

Wheelbase: 2,905

Track (front/rear): 1,625/1,600

Minimum clearance: 171

Wheels: 15×6-inch alloys

Tyres: 215/65R15

Weight: 1,903kg

Fuel-tank capacity: 75 litres

Price: Bt1.694 million

Distributor: Yontrakit Kia Motors Co Ltd, Tel (02) 611 6888

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Kingsley Wijayasinha

The Nation

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