Kia Carens 1.7 CRDi 2
Week ending November 29
Driven this week 377 miles
I'll be the main Carens user much of the time over the next few weeks, so my first job has been to fit my two boys' child seats into the car. Or not.
My group 2/3 seat (a high-backed booster) fitted really easily, mainly because the Carens' Isofix points, to which it attaches, each have a neat little plastic cover which folds down as you slide in the child seat's attachment 'arms', smoothly guiding them to the Isofix lugs.
It was a very different story for my Group 1 seat, which is attached using a seatbelt. Due to the position and angle of the female connectors for the Carens' rear seatbelts, the male connector ends up pressing against the rear corner of the child seat base – what's often referred to as 'buckle crunch'. This is a real no-no, as this kind of pressure can cause the buckle to spring open in an accident – the opposite of what you want to happen. What's more, the clash between the buckle and the child seat meant the seat wasn't adequately square or secure when I fitted it in the usual way.
A check by the on-site child seat fitter visit at my local Mothercare store – where I originally bought the seat – confirmed that my Group 1 child seat was not suitable for the Carens. Luckily, my boys' grandmother uses a model which Mothercare's assured me should fit fine (and will fit my mum's car), so I'll be swapping our seats as a priority.
By Alex Newby
Week ending November 15
Driven this week 351 miles
I've been using our long term Kia as a stand-in while the Honda CR-V has been borrowed to act as holiday wheels for yet another colleague.
When you are shooting tracking shots of another car, you get to tell what kind of ride a car has by how much you and the camera get jiggled around. The Carens impressed with its low-speed ride, helping me get sharper pictures. It's set up quite softly and it runs on relatively small wheels with high profile tyres, which help.
However, it can get upset by a series of bumps, and it would be interesting to hear from any families who own a Carens, to see if their children suffer more from travel sickness with this soft setup?
The Carens also gets blown off course quite easily when overtaking trucks and sways when there only seems to be a slight breeze outside – maybe something to do with the soft suspension.
By Neil Williams
Week ending November 8
Driven this week 130
It always amazes me how quickly the car world moves on. Just a few weeks ago, I would’ve told anyone in the market for a seven-seat MPV to put the Carens near the top of their shortlist.
However, the arrival of a brand new Citroen Grand C4 Picasso and an updated Vauxhall Zafira Tourer (both tested in the January issue of What Car?) have pushed the Kia down the pecking order. The Kia simply can’t compete with the Citroen’s flexible seating and classy cabin, nor the Vauxhall’s more spacious cabin and sharper drive.
There is still one area the Carens embarrasses it rivals, though – and that’s price. The cheapest diesel versions costs just £19,295, so it undercuts a similarly powerful Grand Picasso by £2600, and the new Zafira 1.6 CDTI by a massive £3900. True, both of these rivals come with more kit, but the Carens still gets the essentials, including air-conditioning, Bluetooth and a USB socket.
By Will Nightingale
Week ending November 1
Miles this week 265
If you saw our last JD Power report back in July you may have seen car owners reporting a few issues with 'window fog'.
Until I drove the Kia Carens this week, it was something that left me rather bemused. Why comment on something that, on the surface, seems so trivial? Well, if the Kia makes it into next year’s survey, I won’t be at all surprised if it’s marked down for the same thing.
When I picked it up from our car park last Tuesday evening, the inside of the windscreen was covered with a thick layer of condensation. A quick blast of the air-con had it cleared within a few minutes.
I had a repeat performance when I got into the MPV on Wednesday morning. It’s annoying when you have to sit there, waiting for the glass to clear, before you can set off safely. Even more annoying is the way the Carens’ ventilation system operates. To get rid of the fog I had pressed the ‘windscreen max’ button, which puts the air-con on, directs the air flow to the screen and turns the blowers on full.
All okay so far, but I wear contact lenses and my eyes tend to dry out, so I prefer to direct a car’s air flow to my feet as soon as the glass has cleared. The Carens won’t let you do this; I selected ‘feet’ and ‘chest’, but the display flashed at me before switching back to ‘windscreen max’. I had a two-hour journey ahead of me, so this didn’t bode well.
Luckily, 10 minutes later it did do as commanded. I haven’t had time to look at the manual yet, but I think this has something to do with the engine being up to temperature and the ambient temperature - during the morning commute the airflow automatically switched back to the windscreen whenever the outside temperature dipped below 5deg. Why it does this is beyond me.
That’s not all. There’s an odd smell emanating from our Carens’ vents. It’s not your ‘typical’ mouldy air-con odour, but is of a more worrying electrical/hot plastic nature.
Have you had similar fogging/odour issues with your Carens? Send us an e-mail.
By Rob Keenan