The Kia Carnival has finally made it into the ASEAN market with its recent debut in Thailand, and boy is it expensive.
Kia Thailand has recently unveiled its fourth generation Carnival minivan over there. This launch here serves not only as the debut of this latest iteration of Kia’s MPV here in the ASEAN market, but also as an indication of what could be expected when/if this South Korean people mover makes its way down south across the border.
Unveiled earlier in the year and only on sale currently in its home market of South Korea, this new fourth iteration of Kia’s ‘Grand Utility Vehicle’ boasts a sharper SUV-inspired design aesthetic than the shapely outgoing MPV. Up front, the Kia corporate ‘tiger face’ has been brought up to date with a sharper front grille, that is flanked by sleek LED headlights.
Down the side meanwhile, the floating island-roof design, made possible due to the blacked out central pillars and the metallic wraparound accent trim on the C-pillar, gives the impression of a sleeker side profile than the usual slab-sided aesthetic of a typical minivan. 18-inch dual-tone alloys that are standard too on the new Carnival, which go some ways to achieving this more SUV-like appearance Kia is aiming for. The same sentiment applies also to the full-width light bar round the back, and the exposed skid plate beneath the rear bumper.
Nevertheless, what is of greater interest is perhaps the interior of this new MPV, which boasts the same 11 seat layout as currently seen in the outgoing Grand Carnival locally. Twin Smart Power one-touch sliding doors and a power-operated Smart Tailgate also come standard for added practicality.
As for the design of the cabin, the modern and clean dash layout of this new Carnival is undoubtably a vast improvement over its predecessor that first debut in 2014. A new 12.3 inch central infotainment touchscreen and 4.2 inch Supervision instrument cluster between twin analog dials are among the tech featured within this leather lined cabin. Other interior niceties like electrically adjustable ventilated front seats, a panoramic glass roof, a Bose 12-speaker audio system, a Qi wireless charging pad and puddle lights available on the higher spec SXL trim.
Also exclusive to the higher spec SXL trim is the expanded range of DRIVE WiSE active safety aids, bringing along with it a host of acronyms like Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA), Blind-Spot Collision Avoidance Assist (BCA), Safe Exit Assist (SEA), Smart Cruise Control (SCC), Lane Following Assist (LFA) and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA). The active safety highlights on lower-tier EX trim meanwhile are limited to a 360º Surround View Monitor (SVM) and Park Distance Warning (PDW). Both trim levels however feature 7 airbags as standard, and the usual slew of passive safety features.
Speaking of the things that are the same across the Carnival range, there is only one powertrain choice available for this South Korean MPV in Thailand. The Thai-market Carnival is powered by a 2.2 litre turbocharged Smartstream four-cylinder Euro 5 compliant diesel engine that outputs a decent 202 PS and 450 Nm of torque. Sending all this power to the front wheels meanwhile is the responsibility of an 8-speed shift-by-wire automatic transmission, that is controlled by a dial on the centre console.
Available in four colours: Snow White Pearl, Aurora Black Pearl, Panthera Metal and the SXL-exclusive Astra Blue, prices for the Carnival in Thailand begins at 2,144,000 baht (RM 288,500) for the EX trim, before rising to 2,459,000 baht (RM 331,000) for the higher-spec SXL variant. Considering that the outgoing Grand Carnival retails over there for only 60% of the cost of this new fully-imported Carnival, this is the clearest sign yet that Kia is looking to move this new MPV upmarket.
Whether it is a wise decision or not for the South Korean automaker remains to be seen, but judging from the initial reaction from our neighbours to the north, it doesn’t seem to be the case as of now. At this price, it would also look to be a tough sell in Malaysia too. Considering that not many people were swayed by the prior Carnival already, persuading an even more discerning class of clientele out of their Alphards and Vellfires and into something with a Kia badge is close to an impossible feat, regardless of how good the Kia is.
PRESS RELEASE: Kia Motors Corporation has revealed the new Kia Carnival, the fourth generation of the brand’s flagship minivan. Released in Korean specification, the new Kia Carnival – sold in many markets worldwide as the Kia Sedona – has been designed to appeal to progressive young families, with a leading combination of innovation, flexibility, and style.
Dubbed a ‘Grand Utility Vehicle’, the new model boasts a design evolution for the Carnival. The fourth-generation model builds on its predecessors’ heritage with a more architectural sense of solidity and an upgraded appearance that draws on the overarching design ethos that links all of Kia’s cars design identity. Matched with highly detailed, futuristic details and SUV-inspired design elements, the new model brings a stronger, more stylish presence to the mid-sized MPV segment.
A character evolution
The new Carnival features a shorter front overhang, with the base of the A-pillar moved backwards to create a longer hood. Its increased wheelbase also contributes to greater space throughout the cabin, while giving the car a longer, slightly more athletic silhouette. The result is a side profile that reveals the Carnival’s more dynamic DNA.
This is emphasized by a simple yet bold character line which runs along the length of the car, linking the front and rear lamps. Beneath this clear line, the Carnival features a more prominent sense of volume to its bodywork, with bold wheel arches and sharp lines along the body giving it a more sculpted appearance.
The new model features a unique ‘island roof’ design, with blacked-out A- and B-pillars supporting the body-colored roof. From the side, one of the new car’s stand-out features is an eye-catching new C-pillar signature design, inspired by that of the new Sorento. The chrome fin, which wraps beneath the tapered rear windows and extends towards the tailgate, is finished with a subtle diamond pattern that is also reflected throughout the inside of the car.
A more confident, futuristic face
The Carnival features a new ‘tiger face’ which extends across the width of the vehicle. This confident, more futuristic face seamlessly integrates lamps with Kia’s iconic ‘tiger-nose’ grille. Kia’s designers have dubbed this ‘symphonic architecture’, with the design of the front bringing together a range of detailed, technical features to create a sense of harmony and structural energy. The grille and lamps are defined by their high-tech, high-precision details, with chrome trim above the grille and forming its own character line around the face of the car. The castellated edge of the upper grille is paired with perpendicular creases which extend straight up the hood, creating a more purposeful look when viewed head-on.
The Carnival’s headlamps and LED daytime running lights (DRLs) form a unique light signature. The high-beam lamps are integrated into the corner of the tiger-nose grille, with the low-beam lamps sitting separately, at the outer edges of the front of the car. Between them, the DRLs wrap around the Carnival’s turn signal lamps, then plunge downwards, merging with the grille’s lower chrome border.
Beneath, the sculpted bumpers and lower air intake are matched with metallic trim and a black lower bumper, presenting the Carnival’s robust, SUV-inspired appearance.
SUV-inspired design extends rearwards
At the rear, the Carnival boasts a wide, distinctive new design which uses full-width lines to emphasize the car’s sense of solidity
These lines include the sleek combination lamps, which echo the same details as the DRLs at the front of the car, integrated into a full-width light. The light bar connects visually to a sharp, sculpted line which extends downwards and wraps around the license plate.
Above the light bar is a chrome line, which started at the base of the new signature C-pillar and wraps around the base of the rear screen. Beneath the light bar, highlight lines extend across the tailgate to raise the visual center of gravity of the rear of the car.
Further enhancing its SUV-inspired design, the Carnival is finished off with a metallic lower skid plate, elevating the car further and giving it a more robust appearance.