2021 Kia Carnival Platinum (car review)

ONCE upon a time, middle aged family men lived in fear of the day they would find a mini-van parked in their driveway, for all of their neighbours and friends to see. You see the mini van was a sign of defeat, a sign that practicality ruled their life.

It was a sign that vehicle choice was now a department best left to the wife. All that has changed however, thanks to the 2021 Kia Carnival Platinum, the Korean car maker’s Grand Utility Vehicle (GUV).

Those three words alone will help justify to many that their new car purchase will be a little more exciting than the dread envisioned when the words mini-van are associated with car shopping. Kia has brought the cool back to practical family motoring.

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Not only is there enough tech and lux in this GUV to keep the entire family happy, but this may also be the best vehicle to get the boys picked up from the pub in, because damn it looks good.

The updated styling of the 2021 Carnival give it more of an SUV wagon appearance than a traditional van look. The restyled grille, with LED headlights, looks sharp and modern, and the same can be said about the rear taillight assembly upgrade as well.

Our test vehicle was supplied in Snow White Pearl and it matched beautifully against the gloss black body accents, dark tinted windows, and the massive 19-inch gloss black rims. This is definitely not your average mini-van – oops, we mean GUV.

That high end style carries through to the interior of the Carnival Platinum too, with eight leather appointed seats beckoning. The front seats feature heating and ventilation, while the second row perimeter seats score heating as well.

Electric sliding side doors are a nice touch, and are indeed very useful for getting the kids in and out of the car. This was one of our favourite features. As a father of four small children having the convenience of sliding doors is great.

There was no worry or fear of any of the children opening a door into anything, especially in parking lots or tight spaces. Another nice feature is the removable middle seat in the second row. This allowed for a walkway to be created between the second and third rows.

In turn, that provided access for children and adults. Enough about the practical stuff though, there’s a whole bunch of cool stuff for the driver too; like two sunroofs, and a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system.

It comes with dual Bluetooth integration, wired Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and a wireless phone charger. Given the base S model has wireless smartphone connectivity, it’s odd that it’s been missed here.

The tunes are pumped out via an impressive premium 12-speaker BOSE sound system. And for a little perspective, there are nine cup holders, four bottle holders, four small storage compartments suitable for a phone, and USB ports in all three rows.

There is also a clever boot with a sunken floor to ensure that you can make the most of the space. The auto open and close rear tailgate is super handy too. Despite its 5.155m length and 1.995m width, the 2021 Kia Carnival doesn’t feel overly large either.

One of the few things that we struggled with in the Platinum edition of the Kia GUV is the turn dial gear selector. It feels clunky to operation. The basic automatic shifter in the S model is a little more practical and less fiddley.

Our test vehicle, a petrol variant, is powered by a 3.5-litre V6 producing 216kW and 355Nm. Power delivery is smooth, and the motor is matched well to its 8-speed automatic gearbox. Claimed fuel economy is 9.6-litres/100km.

Priced at $69,270, the 2021 Kia Carnival Platinum comes with a host of safety features, including autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, hill start assist, parking sensors, and a 360-degree camera view.

And if Snow White Pearl isn’t your thing, you can also have Astra Blue, Depp Chroma Blue, Aurora Black, Panthera Metal, Ceramic Silver, Silky Silver or Flare Red. It comes with a 7-year unlimited kilometre warranty.

Families will fall in love with its practicality, tech and lux features, and it will ensure that middle aged fathers who end up owning one will feel empowered with their purchase. Honest, it will.

Our test vehicle was provided by Kia Australia. To find out more about the 2021 Kia Carnival Platinum, contact your local Kia dealer.


Driving experience
Styling and comfort
Interior look and feel
Technology and connectivity
Family friendliness
Value for money


Pros - looks less minivan; loads of room; practical family car; plenty of tech.
Cons -dial gear selector is fiddly; lacks wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (which is on base S variant).
Andrew Jenkin
Andrew Jenkin
Andrew Jenkin is the ride editor at Exhaust Notes Australia, founding editor of Two Wheel Addicts, a contributor at Bike Review and panel judge for Harley Davidson's Breakout Boss competition. Andrew has a love for anything on two wheels whether that be sports, naked or adventure bikes, with a guilty pleasure for cruisers.


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<strong>Pros -</strong> looks less minivan; loads of room; practical family car; plenty of tech.<br> <strong>Cons -</strong>dial gear selector is fiddly; lacks wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (which is on base S variant).2021 Kia Carnival Platinum (car review)