Our cars: Kia Carens - January

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  • Kia-supplied Thule bike rack is brilliant, and having the bikes in place reduces the wind whistle

    Kia-supplied Thule bike rack is brilliant, and having the bikes in place reduces the wind whistle

  • New bike rack adds practicality, but produces a loud whistling noise at speed

    New bike rack adds practicality, but produces a loud whistling noise at speed

  • Carens was great for a tip run

    Carens was great for a tip run

  • Caren's steering wheel controls feel well built and satisfying to use. They're easy to tell apart by touch, too

    Caren's steering wheel controls feel well built and satisfying to use. They're easy to tell apart by touch, too

  • The dedicated storage area for the Carens' boot cover is another feature that makes this MPV genuinely versatile

    The dedicated storage area for the Carens' boot cover is another feature that makes this MPV genuinely versatile

  • Kia's steering has been frustrating Alex, regardless of which setting she puts it in

    Kia's steering has been frustrating Alex, regardless of which setting she puts it in

  • Rearmost seats are a squeeze for six-foot adults - but just about tolerable for short journeys

    Rearmost seats are a squeeze for six-foot adults - but just about tolerable for short journeys

  • Carens safely carried a treasured childhood dolls' house this week

    Carens safely carried a treasured childhood dolls' house this week

  • Mothercare's child seat fitting experts confirmed that our model of child seat didn't fit the Carens

    Mothercare's child seat fitting experts confirmed that our model of child seat didn't fit the Carens

  • Climb up to the back seats not too daunting, but it's sometimes tricky to get out again.

    Climb up to the back seats not too daunting, but it's sometimes tricky to get out again.

  • Angle of Carens' rear seat buckles caused dangerous 'buckle crunch' for our model of child seat

    Angle of Carens' rear seat buckles caused dangerous 'buckle crunch' for our model of child seat

  • Carens has been good as a camera car

    Carens has been good as a camera car

  • Rivals arriving thick and fast

    Rivals arriving thick and fast

  • The Kia's boot light detaches and becomes a torch - a neat touch.

    The Kia's boot light detaches and becomes a torch - a neat touch.

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Kia Carens 1.7 CRDi 2

Read the full Kia Carens review

Week ending January 31
Mileage 6696
Driven this week 50 miles

There's a lot I like about the Carens, but I have a couple of gripes when driving it around town. For one thing, the front A-pillars are quite chunky and positioned right in my way at junctions, so I often find myself leaning forwards, backwards and round them to get a proper view.

Then there's the steering. Even on its sportiest setting it feels a bit too light and vague, so you can't rely on it to make the sort of spontaneous and precise changes of direction that would sometimes be helpful. Tight corners have to be taken carefully, too.

Still, our Carens has plenty of power and generally feels quite smooth to ride in, as long as the surface isn't too bad.

By Alex Newby
Alex.Newby@whatcar.com

Week ending January 24
Mileage 6646
Driven this week 74 miles

I'm finding the Carens very easy to drive and live with, and it has some useful little features that are a big help.

In particular, I like the windscreen wipers that return to their 'home' position when you switch off the engine, and headlights that automatically switch off at the same time, even if you don't have them on the automatic setting.

I haven't needed the boot light that doubles as a torch yet, but the kids are looking forward to that, now they've discovered it.

By Alex Newby
Alex.Newby@whatcar.com

Read the full Kia Carens review

Week ending January 17
Mileage 6572
Driven this week 90 miles

The hidden storage areas underneath the Carens' middle-row footwells are really handy – not so much for extra luggage, as they're not very big, but for hiding smallish things you don't want to leave on view.

It's a shame, though, that they don't have proper hinges for the lids – instead, the lid comes away in your hands, which usually means you have to put it somewhere while you fill the stowage area, then carefully refit it.

Another regretful moan: why make an emergency roadside kit that's almost the right size to store in one of the stowage areas, but is just a touch too big? This means you can't properly fit the lid on and have to just lie it on top. By the time the floor mats are back in place this isn't too noticeable, but to me it looks and feels messy - that’s a pity when so much of the Carens feels so smart.

By Alex Newby
Alex.Newby@whatcar.com

Read the full Kia Carens review

Week ending January 10
Mileage 6482
Driven this week 181 miles

Oh dear, it's happened: I've scratched one of the Carens' alloys after just a few weeks with the car.

I don't even have anyone to blame: I approached the last available parking space near my toddler's nursery from an awkward direction and got it wrong. Now I just need to decide whether to live with the shame or get the wheel repaired as soon as possible so I can forget all about it.

That'll probably depend on what it'll cost to put right, so my next job will be to spend some time getting some quotes. I can think of things I'd rather be doing, but perhaps it'll teach me a lesson.

By Alex Newby
Alex.Newby@whatcar.com

Week ending January 3
Mileage 6301
Driven this week 212 miles

Having proposed the use of the Carens to take our party of six (including my two under-fives) out for lunch on New Year's Day, I soon remembered two possible obstacles: my kids' child seats fitted to the outer middle-row seats. Frankly, I couldn't be bothered to refit them to the pair of seats that pop up from the boot for our 15-minute journey, so for the outward trip I volunteered to sit in the very back, swapping with my husband on the way back so he could enjoy a drink with his meal.

Getting into the rearmost seats was awkward without removing my older boy's high-backed booster seat (due only to my own laziness; it actually detaches very easily from the car's Isofix points), but I managed. Since the booster seat isn't attached using the seat belt (unlike my smaller boy's seat) it was easy to slide it forward a bit to give me enough legroom, but at 5ft 7in I found my head was brushing the roof lining.

The windows back here are small, quite high up, and slightly too far forward to give a decent view out, so it feels rather dark and cramped. In the rearmost seats, the ride also felt noticeably bumpy and jittery on country backroads.

Predictably for my six-foot husband, these seats felt even more cramped, and it was amusing to watch him squeeze out of the car when we got home. For short journeys, though, he had few complaints - so all in all, job done!

By Alex Newby
Alex.Newby@whatcar.com

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