2021 Kia Carnival Platinum V6 Petrol Review
Price & Equipment:8
Interior & Practicality:9
Performance & Economy:8.5
Ride & Handling:7.5
Service & Warranty:8
What we like:
  • Excellent practicality throughout the cabin
  • Newfound luxurious cabin vibe
  • Good value for money, even in top-spec form
What we don't like:
  • Missing some key features
  • Diesel engine is more efficient
  • Not cheap to service
8.2DiscoverAuto Rating

Let’s say you’re looking for a new vehicle to carry a minimum of seven people around. 10-20 years ago, you’d be choosing an MPV but in recent years the ‘minivan’ (or MPV) market has dwindled to make way for larger SUVs like the Hyundai Palisade. Is there still a need for a big minivan in modern society? We tested the 2021 Kia Carnival Platinum V6 to see.

2021 Kia Carnival Platinum V6

Known in Kia marketing speak as a ‘Grand Utility Vehicle (GUV)’, the Carnival Platinum is more than a bare bones way to transport the masses in. It now offers a level of luxury that some SUVs can only dream of and is nothing like Carnivals of old. The only competitors in the Australian market are the Hyundai Staria, Mercedes-Benz V-Class, Honda Odyssey and the Volkswagen Multivan.

Price & Equipment: 8/10

There are four different models in the 2021 Kia Carnival range. The range kicks off with the $50,890 drive away Carnival S, moves up to the $56,290 drive away Carnival Si and $61,090 drive away Carnival SLi until you reach the Carnival summit, which is the $68,790 drive away Carnival Platinum tested here. Adding a 2.2-litre diesel engine to any model adds $2,000 to the price.

The 2021 Kia Carnival Platinum V6 comes pretty well loaded with black 19-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights, leather upholstery, electric front seats with driver’s memory functionality, heated and cooled front seats with a heated steering wheel, heated second outer seats, a 10.25-inch touchscreen with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite navigation with live traffic, digital radio, tri-zone climate control with rear climate controls and vents in the roof in all three rows of seats, keyless entry with push button start and remote start, heated and auto-folding mirrors, electric-sliding side doors, an electric tailgate with kick-to-open functionality, dual sunroofs, LED cabin ambient lighting, a 12-speaker Bose sound system and wireless phone charging.

In terms of safety kit, the 2021 Kia Carnival Platinum V6 has seven airbags, low and high speed autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection, blind-spot monitoring with prevention steering, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert with rear auto braking, safe exit warning, driver attention detection, rear occupant alert, adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, auto high beam and front and rear parking sensors with a 360-degree parking camera.

The only bit of personalisation on the Carnival is the choice of colour. There is ‘Ceramic Silver’ – which is the only no cost colour option – while ‘Aurora Black’, ‘Deep Chroma Blue’, ‘Astra Blue’, ‘Panthera Metal’, ‘Silky Silver’ and our test car’s ‘Pearl White’ are an additional $695. The sole interior colour is black with beige plastics.

However, unusually for a recent top-spec Kia, the 2021 Kia Carnival Platinum V6 misses out on automatic windscreen wipers, a digital driver’s display and the blind spot cameras. Making their absence more unusual is that all of these features are seen on other top-spec Kia models such as the Sorento GT-Line and less expensive Sportage GT-Line, as well as the American-spec Carnival Platinum. We believe they’re part of the 2022 model year update, but nothing has been announced thus far from Kia Australia.

We do think that the sweet spot in the 2021 Kia Carnival range is the SLi as it only loses out on the dual-sunroofs, 19-inch wheels (down to 18-inch), the Bose 12-speaker audio system, heated and cooled front seats, heated second row seating, a wireless smartphone charger, rear occupant alert and puddle lamps. But is also a huge $7,700 cheaper than the Platinum at $61,090 drive away.

With the SUVs dominating the sales charts, the humble minivan has been axed from many automotive shopping lists. The main rivals for the Carnival are the Hyundai Staria, Volkswagen Multivan, Honda Odyssey, LDV G10 and Mercedes-Benz V-Class. The Staria model to rival the Carnival Platinum is the Highlander, which is priced at $63,500 plus on road costs. The Staria has a full sized spare wheel, blind spot cameras and digital dials over the Carnival, but the Kia counters with larger 19-inch alloy wheels, a 12-speaker Bose stereo and driver’s seat memory settings.

Performance & Economy: 8.5/10

The 2021 Kia Carnival comes with a choice of two different engines: a 3.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol V6 with Kia’s familiar 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine. The V6 produces 216kW of power and 355Nm of torque, while the diesel produces 148kW of power and 440Nm of torque. Both engines put their power to the road through the front wheels and come paired to eight-speed torque converter automatic transmissions.

While our test car came with the V6 petrol, history tells us that most buyers will go for the diesel option. Does that mean you should immediately discount the V6 from the line up? We don’t think so and we think you should compare both engine options in the Carnival range.

The 3.5-litre V6 that is also shared with the Kia Sorento, Hyundai Staria and Hyundai Santa Fe and it is a good unit. It offers silky smooth power with a linear power band right throughout the rev range. It also gives off a snarly engine note, one that you would never expect to come from an eight-seat van. There is some occasional wheelspin when taking off from a standstill, but this is to be expected in a heavy front wheel drive vehicle with a torquey engine.

The transmission really extenuates the engine’s placid and smooth nature as it changes gears very smoothly with minimal disruption. The turn style gear selector can take a bit to get used to but once you’ve spent a few days with it, it becomes second nature. There are paddle shifters for manual shifting as well.

It is worth noting that while the entire Carnival range is front-wheel drive, if you go for a diesel Hyundai Staria you get the brand’s ‘H-Trac’ all-wheel drive system, although the engine options and outputs are identical to the Carnival’s. The Honda Odyssey comes with a paltry 129kW/225Nm 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine, which is 87kW and 130Nm less than the Carnival.

The claimed fuel consumption figure for the 2021 Kia Carnival fitted with the V6 petrol engine is 9.6L/100km, which is not amazing. In our week spent with the V6 Carnival, we managed 11.5L/100km in purely urban conditions and that surprised us as we expected a figure much higher. In comparison a Hyundai Staria fitted with the same V6 engine has a claimed average fuel consumption of 10.5L/100km, which is 1.0L/100km more than the Carnival.

Ride & Handling: 7.5/10

Minivans aren’t known for their handling ability and are often some of the most unstable and worst handling vehicles around but the Carnival could change your mind with this. We wouldn’t say that the Carnival handles exceptionally well when compared with an SUV but it isn’t as bad as you may initially think. There is a fair amount of body roll but not enough to make you feel unsafe and the Carnival can take corners quite well at speed.

The ride of the 2021 Kia Carnival, even in Platinum trim with its 19-inch wheels, is pretty good. The suspension is set up for comfort and that is exactly what it delivers – going over speed bumps and the inevitable pot holes of any Australian city is not an uncomfortable experience. In saying this, the suspension does take a bit to settle after going over a bump, it’s an almost boat like experience – Kia wasn’t able to locally tune the Carnival before its release thanks to the pandemic and we’re hoping it’s able to in the future.

Measuring 5,155mm long, 1,995mm wide, 1,775mm tall and with a 3,090mm-long wheelbase, the 2021 Kia Carnival Platinum is a very large vehicle that does take getting used to when manoeuvring into parking spaces and driveways. Thankfully its excellent 360-degree parking camera helps, as do the plethora of safety systems.

Interior & Practicality: 9.0/10

The interior of the 2021 Kia Carnival Platinum V6 is expansive and offers nearly everything you would expect from a high-end minivan. Comparing the interior of the 2021 Carnival to the previous model is like comparing night to day as the new model has a nicer and more modern-looking interior with much better build quality. There is also quite a lot of technology on offer in the cabin of the Carnival Platinum.

The leather used inside the Carnival is nice and soft, but still seemingly durable which is perfect for those who will be hauling their kids around. The door panels and dash of the Kia have some soft touch materials, but as to be expected, there are some hard plastics lower down.

The interior storage in the Carnival is excellent. Up front there are deep door bins, a place for your phone where the wireless phone charger is, a place for your wallet and/or keys behind the heated seat controls, a large centre console, two cupholders and a phone holder in between the cup holders. In the second row of seating there are door bins that also double as cup holders. There are also USB-A charging ports all over the cabin of the Carnival so a place to charge your phone is never far away.

Centre of the Carnival’s dash is a 10.25-inch touchscreen that features wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite navigation with live traffic, digital radio and even features such as ‘sounds of nature’, which projects available sounds to give off a more relaxing environment. The system itself is used in a plethora of other Hyundai and Kia products and it’s very easy to use, the screen quality is great and overall, it’s excellent. The sound from the 12-speaker Bose audio system isn’t bad either.

Opening up the power sliding rear doors reveals lovely leather seating and plentiful legroom. Unfortunately there is no fold down centre arm rest in the third row, but each row does feature USB ports, sun shades and air conditioning vents – the middle row also features heated seats and pockets on the rear of the front seats. Both rows have plenty of leg-, head- and shoulder-room, making the Carnival a true people hauler.

The power tailgate opens up to a gigantic 627-litre boot with all seats in place, folding the third row into the floor (which is very easy to do) makes the Carnival a five-seater and increases the cargo space to a massive 2,785L. The second row of seating does not fold into the floor or anything clever like that but they do tilt forward and slide up against the front seats to open up even more space.

Service & Warranty: 8.0/10

Being a Kia, the Carnival comes with a seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Other vans like the Mercedes-Benz V-Class, Hyundai Staria, Honda Odyssey and Volkswagen Multivan come with a lesser five-year term, which is two years less than the Carnival. Roadside assistance is offered for a single year upfront, but at every scheduled service through a Kia dealership, a further 12-months is added for up to eight years in total.

2021 Kia Carnival Platinum V6

The 2021 Kia Carnival V6 is not the cheapest van to service as over the span of five years or 75,000km, it will set owners back $2,462 (an average of $492.40) to service. The Carnival requires being serviced every 12 months or 15,000km. In comparison, the Volkswagen Multivan will cost owners $3,082 over the same period of time, which is an average service cost of $616.40. The Hyundai Staria fitted with the same V6 engine will cost just $1,800 over five-years or 75,000km – an average of $360 per service – so why does the Carnival cost significantly more than the Staria to service? We’re not sure, though the extra two years of warranty will please possible owners.

2021 Kia Carnival Platinum V6 DiscoverAuto Rating: 8.2/10

Kia has become very good at making a well-rounded product and the 2021 Kia Carnival Platinum V6 is no exception. The interior is one of the most practical in the segment and one of the more premium feeling and there is also an hugely long list of standard features. The Carnival also drives quite well with agreeable driving dynamics and good performance from its creamy smooth V6 engine.

2021 Kia Carnival Platinum V6

Yes, it is expensive to service and misses out on some key equipment offered in other Kia models but it’s still one of best van offerings on the market. It’s not as expensive to buy or service as the Volkswagen Multivan, offers more interior space than a Honda Odyssey and is cheaper to fuel than the Hyundai Staria. With a range of qualities such as this, it’s easy to see why the Kia Carnival has long been the most popular people carrier – it’s just a bit more luxurious this time around.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.