Review - 2021 Kia Carnival

By Alexi Falson on 14 Jul 2021
image for Review - 2021 Kia Carnival If you’re looking for a stylish people mover to accommodate a family’s worth of belongings and keep the whole family safe, there’s more options than ever before on the market.

That’s where today’s subject, the Kia Carnival, steps into the equation, one of the segment’s most dominant people movers, or MPVs. So, just how good is the Kia Carnival, and where - if anywhere - does it fail?

Let’s find out

Starting Price: $50,890 drive-away

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Kia Carnival (S) Specifications

Model Date 2021
Make KIA
Series KA4 MY21
Variant S
Fuel type DIESEL
Transmission 8 SP AUTOMATIC
Drive FWD
Engine TCDI
Engine capacity 2151
Engine configuration VARIABLE DOUBLE OVERHEAD CAM / 16 valves
Engine RPM 3800 / 1750
Cylinders DT4
Torque 440
KW 148
Fuel tank size 72.0
Fuel usage specs 6.5 / 0.0
CO2 170
ANCAP security rating 5

For more details and other variants, check Kia Carnival car page.

How Much Does It Cost?

The Kia Carnival range kicks off at $50,890 drive-away for the entry-level S model with a petrol engine, while the diesel variant is priced from $52,890. From here, the range moves to the Si, which costs $56,290 for the petrol and $58,290 for the Si diesel. Next, the petrol-powered Carnival SLi is priced from $60,790 and the diesel will set you back $62,790. Finally, the range-topping Carnival Platinum is priced at $68,490 for the petrol variant, while the diesel is priced at $70,490. 

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Using OnlineAuto’s car buying service, our car sourcing specialists can help you find the best value model for you.

What Features Does the Kia Carnival Have?

The entry-level Carnival S comes with eight seats, and rides on a set of 17-inch alloys. In terms of features, the Carnival S is fitted with an 8.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a six-speaker sound system, reverse camera with sensors, automatic LED headlights with a set of daytime running lamps, air conditioning, adaptive cruise control as well as a host of active safety technology that we’ll cover later in this review.

Stepping up to the Carnival Si adds a larger set of 18-inch alloys, as well as an upgraded 12.3-inch infotainment system with satellite navigation, dual-zone climate control, eight-speaker audio system, parking sensors at the front, LED tail lights and a steering wheel wrapped in leather. The Carnival SLi is packaged with a 360-degree camera, keyless entry, hands-free tailgate, power sliding doors, powered driver’s seat, LED fog lamps and rear privacy glass.

Finally, the range-topping Carnival Platinum comes with features like 19-inch black alloy wheels, two sunroofs, a heated steering wheel as well as heated front and rear seats, ambient lighting, wireless smartphone charging, and a BOSE 12-speaker sound system.

Range Features:

  • 17-inch alloys
  • 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Eight Seats
  • Reverse camera with rear sensors
  • LED headlights
  • 12.3-inch touchscreen (Si and above)
  • Power sliding doors (SLi and above)
  • Surround view camera (SLi and above)
  • Two panoramic sunroofs (Premium)
  • Heated seats (Premium)

Kia Carnival Colours

Astra Blue Metallic Panthera Metal Metallic
Flare Red Premium Ceramic Silver Metallic
Silky Silver Metallic Snow White Pearl

Is it Comfortable to Drive?

As a family wagon, the Kia Carnival behaves exactly as it should. It’s easy to drive, and has featherweight steering that makes it easy to steer, in spite of its large proportions. Kia has designed the Carnival with a lower centre of gravity and longer wheelbase than your typical SUV, which means that it’s surprisingly easy to drive. Better still, Kia tunes all of its cars for Australian roads, which means you benefit from suspension that has been designed to deal with the worst that Australian road conditions can throw up. This also means that around town, the Carnival is a pleasure to drive, handling small bumps without a concern and offering a very car-like driving dynamic, which is a big compliment for a people-mover of this size.

Buyers have the option of a 3.6-litre petrol or 2.2-litre turbo-diesel unit, paired with an eight speed automatic transmission that offers smooth shifts and makes the Carnival even more simple to drive, regardless of your experience piloting vans or people-movers. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that the Carnival has a larger turning circle than your average SUV, so you’ll need to be careful when navigating any tight corners or while parking. Overall, though, the Carnival is a remarkably simple, relaxing and competent car to drive and offers a great quality of driving dynamics for its size.

Is it Practical and Spacious?

The Carnival has been designed to prioritise both occupant comfort and practicality, and in its latest generation, Kia has taken its already exceptional recipe and perfected it even more. In the front of the cabin, the driver and front passenger are treated to a sleek, modern dash design with in-built infotainment system, while passengers in the rear have a huge amount of headroom and the ability to slide their seats for extra legroom. Kia’s clever packaging of the rear interior means that you can slide and remove seats, depending on how big your family is or what you need to lug around with you on holidays. There’s even five ISOFIX mounting points for those with young children and need to mount a baby seat. The third row of seats can accommodate two adults, or three children, and can be folded down flat to maximise space in the boot of the car.

The Kia Carnival’s boot space has increased with the latest generation, with Kia adding an extra 179L, meaning there is a total of 1139L of storage with the third-seats folded up, and a massive 2461L with the seats folded down. In terms of overall practicality and adaptability to different situations and demands, the Kia Carnival is in a league of its own.

Is it Safe?

You’ll be glad to hear that Kia is now packaging all Carnival models with its full suite of active safety technologies. This means that even the entry-level S comes with autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, blind spot collision avoidance, multi collision braking, advanced cruise control, rear cross traffic alerts, safe exit warnings and intelligent speed assist, on top of seven airbags. The Carnival has been awarded ANCAP’s maximum five star safety rating.

Is it Fuel Efficient?

The one downside of having a people mover is no doubt the economy, which can suffer with a car of this size. The base model with a petrol engine is rated at 9.6L per 100km, which isn’t actually too bad for something of these proportions, but that is significantly outpaced by the diesel engine’s 6.5L per 100km rating on a combined cycle.

If economy is a major concern, it’s worth spending the $2,000 extra and opting for the diesel engine over the standard petrol unit.

Our Verdict: Is the Kia Carnival Worth it?

If you’re looking for something that can comfortably accommodate eight people, the Carnival really is one of the best options on the market. Kia has, for a number of years now, been setting the pace for full-sized family cars, and this applies perhaps more so when it comes to the Carnival specifically.

With all the major areas of concern taken care of, and with Kia’s exceptional ownership program of a seven-year warranty with capped-price servicing, the Carnival should be on anyone’s shortlist if they’re looking at this type of car. On that note, if you’re in the market for a new car, you can get a free quote and see how much OnlineAuto can save you on your next car, or call us on 1300 719 925

Five Specs You Need to Know

  1. Power sliding doors only on the SLi variant and above
  2. Base model receives 8-inch screen; more expensive variants get a 12.3-inch unit
  3. 9.6L per 100km for the petrol & 6.5L per 100km for the diesel engine
  4. 1139L of boot space; extends to 2461L with rear-seats folded down
  5. Seven-Year, Unlimited KM warranty + capped price servicing


  • Unparalleled practicality and flexibility
  • Generous features and equipment as standard
  • Active safety technology packed on entry-level S


  • Petrol engine can prove thirsty
  • Large car for tight turns and carparks
  • Platinum variant comes at $20,000 premium over entry-level S

OnlineAuto Rating: 9/10

Kia Carnival Competition

Kia Carnival

Kia Sorento
Honda Odyssey
Toyota HiAce
Toyota Granvia
Chrysler Pacifica


Alexi Falson

Alexi is an automotive journalist and road tester hailing from Byron Bay. He has an affection for both cars and motorbikes, a great admiration for the simplicity of old-school engineering, and a fascination of new technology making its way to modern cars. When he's not road testing, you'll find him surfing, hiking or helping people find their dream cars.

Have any questions? Call us on 1300 719 925

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