Kia Carens MPV full 9 point review
Three engines are offered: a 1.6-litre petrol and 114bhp and 134bhp versions of a 1.7-litre diesel. The petrol engine is smooth but feels gutless at low revs. The 134bhp diesel has no trouble hauling around a heavily loaded Carens, although it’s not as flexible as some engines in rival MPVs; you have to keep the revs above about 1600rpm. The lower-powered diesel isn’t as quick, but it’s more flexible and has a smoother power delivery, so is our favourite.
Ride & Handling
Kia has put comfort before agility, which is no bad thing in an MPV. The ride generally feels a lot more forgiving than a Peugeot 5008’s, although things can become a bit unsettled over scruffy road surfaces, and the Carens rolls far more than the Peugeot in bends. The fact that the Carens is quite slow to respond to steering inputs also counts against it on twistier routes, while the steering itself has an artificial feel.
The Carens is a pretty refined cruiser with either a petrol or a diesel engine, with the more powerful diesel particularly quiet on motorways. Other noise levels are decently low, with little road noise, and only a bit of flutter from around the door mirrors at higher speeds.
Buying & Owning
The Carens is competitively priced, with most trims being cheaper than comparable rivals. Running costs are reasonable rather than class-leading; the lower-powered diesel has claimed average economy of more than 60mpg, and the higher-powered version has a figure of nearly 57mpg.
Quality & Reliability
The interior of the Carens is smartly styled and built from solid materials. True, Kia’s performance in the latest JD Power customer satisfaction survey was nothing special, but it performed solidly in our latest reliability survey, and you get the reassurance of a seven-year, 100-000 mile warranty.
Safety & Security
Every Carens comes with stability control and six airbags, although it’s disappointing that the twin curtain ’bags don’t extend to protect those in the third row. The Carens should be safe in a crash, though, because it scored the maximum five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests. Security is boosted by deadlocks, an automatic door locking function and an engine immobiliser.
Behind The Wheel
The dashboard layout is similar to the Ceed hatchback’s, which means most of the controls are clearly labelled and logically arranged. There’s also a good range of seat and steering wheel adjustment to help you find a comfortable driving position, and visibility is better than it is in many MPVs, thanks to large windows all round.
Space & Practicality
Like most of its rivals, the Carens has three full-size middle-row seats that can be slid and reclined independently. Third-row space is also competitive, which means kids and smaller adults will fit. Unfortunately, getting to the third row isn't as easy as it is in a Peugeot 5008, because the middle-row seats don't slide so far forward, and then don't return to their original position. The boot is big and all five rear seats can be folded down to leave a long, flat load area.
All versions are handsomely equipped, and the trim levels are easy to understand, because they’re called 1, 2 and 3. Even entry-level 1 models come with air-conditioning, cruise control, Bluetooth and a USB socket, so that’s what we’d go for. Step up to 2 trim and you get alloys, climate control and automatic lights and wipers, while range-topping 3 cars add a colour touch-screen, a reversing camera and a panoramic glass roof.