What's the used Kia Carens MPV like?
The traditional family car doesn’t seem to cut it when you need something that’s big enough to cope with multiple child seats, or has enough seats when you have to drive your children and their friends to a party, or has a vast load area for a spot of weekend DIY. You need an MPV for all that. And if you want it to be as stress-free an ownership experience as possible, you should take a look at the Kia Carens.
There are only two engine options in the Carens: a 1.6-litre petrol and a 1.7-litre diesel that can be had in two states of tune. The 133bhp petrol is fine for urban driving but will struggle if the car is fully loaded with people. The 114bhp and 139bhp diesel options suit the Carens better, despite the extra engine noise they produce. They will also cost less you less at the pumps because they’re much more economical and have lower road tax costs.
Inside, you get an interior that’s well put together and comes with plenty of standard equipment. Every model has air-con, cruise control, electric windows, Bluetooth and a USB connection. The trim levels are easy to understand, too, because they’re called 1, 2, 3 and 4. Even entry-level 1 models come with 15in alloy wheels, 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 climate control and automatic lights and wipers as well as Kia’s 7.0in colour touchscreen infotainment system. 3 cars add a reversing camera and leather seats to that. At the top of the range sits 4, which adds a larger touchscreen and a panoramic sunroof.
To drive, the Carens is easy rather than entertaining. The clutch and gearbox are both slick, and manoeuvrability is relatively easy with big mirrors and rear parking sensors on mid-range models.
There are three modes for steering weight: Comfort, Normal and Sport. It’s best to stick with Normal because Sport makes things artificially heavy and the steering rack isn’t precise enough for keen drivers, while Comfort is too light and vague-feeling. Ride quality can become unsettled on scruffier roads, but the Carens deals with bumps better than a Grand Scenic does. Wind noise can become a problem at motorway cruising speed, so it’s not as refined as the Volkswagen Touran.
The Carens doesn’t have a particularly interesting-looking dashboard, but everything is logically laid out and the seats – which seem hard at first – are reasonably comfortable over longer journeys. However, you’ll need to go for 3 trim for lumbar support.
The second-row seats all slide individually to aid leg room for third-row passengers and the Carens is wide enough to take three adults side by side. It would be a little better if the outer seats in the second row had fewer levers because there are three that all share similar tilt and sliding functions – this can be confusing.
What used Kia Carens MPV will I get for my budget?
An early Kia Carens from 2013 will set you back around £7000 for a 1.7 CRDi model. If you need a petrol Carens, you’ll need to spend a little bit more at around £8000, because they weren’t that popular when they were new. So the limited numbers that are around now are usually lower-mileage examples that will be worth more money.
Up the budget to £10,000 and you will find a 2015 diesel car in our preferred 2 trim with around 25,000 miles and the majority of its warranty left. If you’d like a facelifted car from 2017 onwards, you’ll need around £13,000.
All of this means the Carens is about average in price for its class; you’ll pay less for the Ford Grand C-Max, but more for a Renault Grand Scenic or Volkswagen Touran.
How much does it cost to run a Kia Carens MPV?
The 114bhp version of the 1.7 CRDi has the lowest overall fuel consumption at 67.2mpg and costs £20 road tax, but the 139bhp version isn’t too far off at 62.8mpg and £30 road tax. If you go for the automatic version of the higher-powered diesel, then this drops to 58.0mpg and road tax jumps up to £120.
If you go for the petrol model, it will cost you a bit more to run, with an average figure of 45.6mpg and £155 road tax.
If you’re buying a Carens registered after 1 April 2017, you’ll be charged a flat rate of £140 for road tax, regardless of which engine you choose.
Kia doesn’t do fixed-price servicing for used cars, but its servicing costs don't tend to be too high, so maintenance costs for the Carens should be relatively low.
Which used Kia Carens MPV should I buy?
We’d suggest you go for one of the diesel examples instead of a petrol one because they offer lower running costs and their greater torque copes with transporting seven people better. The lower-powered 114bhp version has the best fuel economy, but the 139bhp car isn’t that far off and is better for those who often travel on the motorway.
Every Carens comes with plenty of standard kit, but it’s 2 specification that offers the best value for money because it adds rear parking sensors, auto lights and wipers, privacy glass and power folding mirrors. If you go for the same trim in a post-facelift Carens from 2017 onwards, you get even more equipment, including a 7.0in infotainment system with sat-nav, a rear reversing camera and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity.
Our favourite Kia Carens 1.7 CRDi 139 2
What alternatives should I consider to a used Kia Carens MPV?
Ford Grand C-Max comes with sliding rear doors that make getting in and out of tight parking spaces quite easy. There are loads of them about, too, along with plenty of Ford dealers to look after them.
Then there’s the Volkswagen Touran, which has a nicely finished interior and is one of the best cars in the class for interior flexibility because the seats fold, slide and tilt easily. It also doesn’t feel like a soggy MPV to drive; in fact, it feels very much like a Golf – only bigger.
The Renault Grand Scenic has a fine range of efficient engines to choose from and you get a tablet-shaped central screen on the dashboard that should keep the children happy.
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