Kia Carens 2.0 CRDi GS
Chunky styling is likely to appeal
- Exterior design is pleasing, particularly in certain colours
- Driving position and view out is good
- Diesel engine is refined and potent
- Seat arrangement is clever and easy to use
- Access to the third row of seats is slightly restricted
- Indicator and wiper stalk positions are reversed
- Versions on smaller wheels can look a little plump
- No automatic version with the petrol engine
Following its aim of having one of the freshest ranges of cars in the marketplace, Korean manufacturer Kia has introduced the latest version of its Carens mid-sized MPV. This new design aims to offer increased sophistication, comfort and accommodation while maintaining the strong value for money feel.
Already well established in the crowded MPV sector, Kia is aiming to push even higher in the sales charts with this Carens. Improved in all areas with a clean sheet design, it has a much more intriguing exterior design and has a lot more in common with its more modern stable mates.
From the outside the Carens is now much more attractive to look at. The styling is sharper than the old model, although it retains a chunky feel thanks to the substantial metal below the window line. It also disguises its size well, appearing little bigger than a regular hatchback.
Inside the Carens shows a great deal of forethought, with an obvious emphasis on passenger comfort. The use of seven individual seats allows each occupant to adjust for comfort and space, while there are numerous configurations of folded or removed seats to create a large load area, a mix of more load space and passengers or even a mobile office.
Mechanically the Carens benefits from new or substantially revised engines, with the 2.7-litre V6 petrol engine gaining 40bhp over the previous 2.5-litre engine, while the 2.9-litre diesel is improved by 40bhp thanks to a revised injection system and a variable geometry turbocharger, which improves torque at low engine speeds. The diesel can also be specified with a new five-speed automatic gearbox which has a manual mode for extra driver control.
Our verdict on the Kia Carens 2.0 CRDi GS
Although the competition in this sector is fierce, the Carens will meet the needs of many potential buyers with ease. It offers good value for money, a good specification and a sparkling diesel engine, making it quite good fun to drive. With very few demerits, the Carens is a strong package.
Running costs should be very reasonable considering the Carens's size, especially with the diesel engine option. The low purchase price is also a big contributor to the respectable running costs.
Space and practicality
The Carens makes the most of its interior dimension, creating a spacious environment. Head and legroom are very good, with only reduced room in the rear row. The ability to slide or fold the rear seats makes it easy to turn the Carens into a capable van.
Controls and display
The layout in the Carens is straightforward and clear, with all the controls mounted high on the dashboard and sensibly grouped together. The instruments are large and easy to read, while the audio and climate controls are also chunky and well placed. The view out for the driver is also very good thanks to the low dashboard line.
The Carens delivers an impressive level of comfort, essential for a good MPV. The ride quality is impressive, soaking up the majority of road imperfections, and wind noise is also low. Passengers in the rear two seats may feel a little enclosed, but the large glass area gives a good view out.
All Carens models have an engine immobiliser fitted as standard, with remote central locking and an alarm system on GS and LS models.
Six airbags are fitted to the Carens as standard, with Isofix child seat mountings and a passenger airbag cutoff switch, allowing a child seat to be safely mounted next to the driver.
MPV drivers are more likely to be concerned with comfort than performance, but the Carens is far from slothful. The 2.0-litre diesel engine delivers impressive acceleration and comfortable cruising, and is rarely found wanting for power. It even overtakes with ease. This is a major contributor to the Carens being easy to drive, with accurate steering and good brakes. The manual gearshift can be a little sticky, but the automatic is even easier to operate.
Family car appeal
The Carens should provide everything a family could need, with a great deal of versatility and high levels of comfort. The ability to convert the seat layout into various combinations is a useful feature.
First car appeal
Few first time drivers are likely to need this much space, but the Carens is easy to drive, and in diesel form running costs should be quite low.
Quality and image
The Carens may be priced towards the budget end of the MPV market, but the quality throughout the car is of a good standard. The materials inside are mostly very good, while the majority of the buttons and controls operate smoothly. The Carens's image is founded upon its excellent value for money, but the improvements in the entire Kia range in terms of quality and style are becoming more apparent.
Getting into the Carens is very easy, thanks to a combination of good design and space efficiency. Front seat occupants can slide easily in through the wide doors, while those in the second row step in and under the high roofline. Rear seat occupants must first slide the second row of seats forward to gain access, leaving a relatively narrow gap.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
The standard stereo system is a radio/CD, which provides decent quality sound reproduction and has clear, large controls for easy operation.
Colours and trim
The cabin of the Carens uses mostly light grey rather than the more common dark grey or black, and combined with the large glass area, helps to give the cabin a light and airy feel. The majority of the trim is of good quality, with only the odd piece of cheap-feeling trim detracting from the overall feel. LS models are also available with black cloth trim.
Although a relatively large vehicle, visibility is very good, and parking sensors, standard on the LS model, making life much easier for the driver. The power steering and decent turning circle also help.
Full size spare fitted beneath the boot floor.
Two engine options: 2.0-litre petrol (142bhp); 2.0-litre diesel (138bhp). The petrol unit comes with a five-speed manual as standard, while the diesel is fitted with a six-speed manual as standard with the option of a four-speed automatic. Trim levels are S, GS and LS, with GS.
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