2022 Kia Carnival Si Diesel (car review)

Looking more SUV than traditional people mover, the 2022 Kia Carnival Si, tested here in its diesel form, is a fairly decent offering. Despite being two steps down from the range topping Platinum variant, it really doesn’t miss out on much.

Sure, you have to sacrifice leather for cloth, but you still get an absolute bevy of goodies, along with a tonne of space, a pretty impressive overall driving experience, some decent grunt, and great fuel economy.

We loaded it up with our small human and one of her friends for a road trip to Sydney’s Royal Easter Show, knowing full well we’d be coming back with more than we went with, and that said small people would be shattered tired.

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Mad, crazy sing-a-longs with nutty 10-year-olds aside, the Kia performed admirably well, seemingly capable of handling a never-ending bunch of show bags and the inevitable stuffed toys that go along with games at the Show.

What surprised us more than all of that is just how well the Carnival coped with what is affectionately known as Sydney’s version of the multi-storey parking facility used for drag racing in Tokyo Drift (secretly this author’s favourite Fast & Furious movie).

2022 Kia Carnival Si Diesel
2022 Kia Carnival Si Diesel

We speak of course of Car Park 1 at Sydney Olympic Park; a venue that strikes fear into the very soul of anyone who has had to take the multiple level spiral to its pinnacle, in anything bigger than your average SUV, or family sedan.

Kia’s family-focused people mover took it in its stride, behaving very car-like and never once leaving us feeling we were going to clean up a wall or gutter, and even slotting nicely into one of the narrower than narrow parking spaces within.

Such are its road manners, and parking chops, that it feels very much like driving your average car, rather than an 8-seater van, and that truly is part of its charm. It’s exterior styling is a thing of beauty too; this is no Tarago, that’s for sure.

Much like its Hyundai Staria rival, it has a unique look, in this case, one that leaves you wondering whether it’s a chunky SUV, rather than a van – so much so, Kia calls it a Grand Utility Vehicle. It rides on 18-inch alloys and comes with a suite of LED lighting.

Inside, there’s more room than your average house, but you might be disappointed by a couple of things, including the fact it still uses an old manual key to start it, the front seats are manual, and the weird location of the second row cup holders.

dash
Inside the 2022 Kia Carnival Si Diesel

Those, you’ll find at the back of the front centre console, which is a bit of a stretch to reach, especially for kids. That said, there’s plenty to be impressed by, including the 12.3-inch infotainment system.

It’s a very nice unit, with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, DAB+ digital radio and old school AM/FM. If it has a downside, it’s the fact it’s really complicated to manually tune radio stations (like say ABC Central Coast, if that’s to your taste).

The 8-speaker sound system is decent, and the satellite navigation comes with 10-years of live traffic and map updates for nix. A digital instrument cluster includes a 4.2-inch information screen. You’ll also find three USBs up front, and two in the second row.

There are air-con vents everywhere, including the third row, and that back row is even suitable for adults (they’d want to be shorter, but they will fit). The back seats drop into the floor for additional boot space (that room doubles as a drop in spot for shopping).

Under the hood is a 2.2-litre SmartStream in-line 4-cylinder engine that delivers 148kW of power and 440Nm of torque. That’s paired to an 8-speed sports auto. With a 72-litre fuel tank, Kia claims 6.5-litres/100km, and we managed an impressive 6.8-litres.

second row
Inside the 2022 Kia Carnival Si Diesel

The Carnival has a 2,000kg braked towing capacity, should you so desire to throw a trailer on the back of it. Family safety is paramount too, and Kia prides itself on that fact. This vehicle is no different, with stability control, hill-start assist and multi-collision braking.

You’ll also find front and rear parking sensors, dark-sensing auto headlights, high-beam assist, intelligent speed assist, blind spot collision avoidance, lane keep and lane change assist, lane follow assist, lane departure warning and driver attention alert.

The safety tech package is rounded out with advanced smart cruise control, safe exit warning and assist, and autonomous emergency braking with support for car, pedestrian, cyclist and junction.

Price wise, you’ll need to part with $59,390 drive away, but you do get the backing of a 7-year unlimited kilometre warranty. There’s a few colour options, including Ceramic Silver, Silky Silver, Astra Blue, Panthera Metal (as tested), Snow White Pearl and Flare Red.

You can find out more on the Kia Australia website. If you need finance, talk to the team at CreditOne.

boot
Inside the 2022 Kia Carnival Si Diesel

Our test vehicle was provided by Kia Australia. To find out more about the 2022 Kia Carnival Si Diesel, contact your local Kia dealer.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Driving experience
8.5
Exterior styling
8.5
Interior look and feel
8
Technology and connectivity
8.5
Family friendliness
9
Value for money
8

SUMMARY

Pros - roomy as hell; on-road manners; easy to drive and park.
Cons - old school key ignition; manual seats; random cup holder placement in second row.
Mark Holgate
Mark Holgate
A journalist with more than 24 years experience, Mark Holgate has worked with a number of regional, suburban and metropolitan newspapers, as well as stints with motoring specific publications like Which Car? Motorsport News, Auto Action and Street Machine. He is also a contributor to DriveTribe.

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<strong>Pros -</strong> roomy as hell; on-road manners; easy to drive and park.<br> <strong>Cons -</strong> old school key ignition; manual seats; random cup holder placement in second row.2022 Kia Carnival Si Diesel (car review)