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.
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