New car shows why we should ditch SUVs

This type of car was once the go to choice for big families, and there is a very good reason to choose it over an SUV.

People-movers used to be the car of choice for large families, but SUVs have pushed these family-haulers into obscurity. But if you need to sit eight in comfort take a look at this.

Here are five things you need to know about the Kia Carnival.

1. It’s the new Tarago

The now-defunct Toyota Tarago was the go-to option for bigger families for decades, but the Carnival eventually usurped it. With more space, a longer seven-year warranty and the option of a frugal diesel engine, the Carnival beat the Toyota favourite at its own game, taking roughly half the people-mover market. No other people-mover — other than perhaps Hyundai’s dated iMax — has enough room to swallow eight people and their luggage. To put things in perspective, the Carnival has more luggage space with the third row occupied than a Toyota Prado or Kluger with the third-row seats folded away.

2. It’s not a one-trick pony

The Carnival has more going for it than acres of space. All three rows have their own air vents and USB outlets to keep the family comfortable and — just as importantly — occupied on long road trips. It also has a clever intercom system that amplifies the driver’s voice through the rear speakers so you don’t have to shout when taking Macca’s orders. Both sliding side doors and the tailgate are electric and can be opened remotely using the key fob, while getting into the third row is a manual, but fuss-free process.

3. The price tag is daunting

All this real estate and technology doesn’t come cheap. Our diesel Platinum test vehicle costs $69,990 drive-away, although you can get into a cheaper model for about $50,000 on the road. The 3.5-litre V6 petrol version is $2000 cheaper, but it wouldn’t take many road trips for that price advantage to evaporate — the official fuel consumption for the petrol is 9.6L/100km compared with 6.5L/100km for the diesel. In the real world the petrol version would be using mid-teens in town. On a circa-1500km trip with five people, their luggage and a set of golf clubs we averaged a shade over 7L/100km. That gives the Carnival long legs; we almost got 1000km out of a tank without trying. The engine is a ripper. It’s quiet and refined on the open road, rarely breaking a sweat when asked to overtake or climb a hill.

4. Peace of mind is standard

Some buyers might be daunted by the prospect of driving something so big, but the Carnival feels smaller than it looks. Vision is good all-round, thanks to a 360-degree view rear camera that helps with tight parking spots. The Carnival sounds a warning and can slam on the brakes if you’re backing out of a driveway into the path of an approaching vehicle. It will also stop the side doors from opening if it senses children could jump out when a vehicle is approaching. Other safety tech includes auto emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, active cruise control with warnings if the speed limit changes and active lane keeping.

5. The drive’s not too bad

People-movers aren’t the most exciting cars on the planet, but the Carnival has its own charm. The seats offer great support for longer trips, the 12-speaker Bose audio system is above average and the wide-screen digital display adds some wow-factor up front. The Carnival irons out bumps and corrugations on rougher bitumen and feels stable and secure negotiating corners, with decent feedback through the steering wheel. It doesn’t look too bad either, with a hint of Land Rover in the front-end styling.

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