Review - 2023 Kia Carnival

By Alexi Falson on 18 Feb 2023
image for Review - 2023 Kia Carnival Buyers looking to step away from the SUV segment but demand a large, practical, and extremely family-friendly package likely have cars like the Kia Carnival firmly in their sights.

For years now, Kia has dominated the people-mover or MPV segment with its almighty Carnival which has won several awards around the globe, cementing it as perhaps the benchmark for manufacturers serving large families.

In its latest year, Kia is bringing a relatively unchanged Carnival to the market here in Australia, so let’s take a closer look at how it stacks up against its rivals and as a value pick for large families.

Starting Price: $51,690

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Kia Carnival (SLi) Specifications

Model Date 2023
Make KIA
Series KA4 MY23
Variant SLi
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
CO2 170
ANCAP security rating 5

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

How Much Does It Cost?

The MY23 Kia Carnival range kicks off with the entry-level Carnival S petrol, which is priced at $51,690.

Stepping up to the Carnival Si brings the price to $57,390, while the Carnival SLi is priced at $62,190 and the range-topping Carnival Platinum at $69,890. Opting for Kia’s turbo-diesel powertrain adds around $2,000 to the list price of each Carnival variant.

Keep in mind that these prices are subject to change, and do not include on-road costs.

How Much Can OnlineAuto Save You?

Using OnlineAuto’s car purchasing service, take advantage of the expertise of one of our car specialists to assist you in finding the best value model for you.

What Features Does the Kia Carnival Have?

The entry-level Kia Carnival S comes riding on a set of 17-inch alloys and receives LED headlights & daytime running lamps, adaptive cruise control, a rear-view camera with parking sensors, an eight-seat layout, Kia’s safety equipment suite, a 4.2-inch driver’s display and an 8.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto.

Stepping up to the Carnival Si adds a set of 18-inch alloys, an upgraded 12.3-inch infotainment system with sat-nav, dual-zone climate control, LED tail lights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear lever, front parking sensors and an eight-speaker sound system.

The Carnival SLi gains a set of powered sliding side doors and a powered boot lift, LED fog lights, leather upholstery, a surround-view camera, a smart key with push-button start, and a few added safety features that we’ll cover later in this review.

Finally, the range-topping Carnival Platinum picks up 19-inch alloys, upgraded LED headlights, dual sunroofs, heated and ventilated front seats with heated second-row seats, wireless smartphone charging, and a set of puddle lamps.

Range Features:

  • 17-inch alloys

  • LED headlights & daytime running lamps

  • Adaptive cruise control

  • Rear-view camera with parking sensors

  • 8.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto

  • 18-inch alloys (Si)

  • 12.3-inch infotainment system (Si)

  • Dual sliding doors with powered boot (SLi)

  • Leather upholstery (SLi)

  • Surround-view camera (SLi)

  • 19-inch alloys (Platinum)

  • Premium LED headlights (Platinum)

  • Dual sunroofs (Platinum)

  • Heated & ventilated front seats, heated rear seats (Platinum)

Kia Carnival Colours

The Kia Carnival range is available in a choice of eight colours, including Ceramic Silver, Silky Silver, Snow White, Panthera Metal, Flare Red, Deep Chroma Blue, Astra Blue and Aurora Black.

Is it Comfortable to Drive?

Kia’s Carnival rides on the same platform you’ll find underneath its seven-seat SUV, the Sorento, which has given it some impressive driving credentials while retaining the all-important hallmarks of a smooth, comfortable and stable people-mover.

The Carnival range is available in both petrol and diesel form, with the petrol priced slightly cheaper than the turbo-diesel, which utilises a 3.5-litre V6 petrol producing 216kW of power and 355Nm of torque, powering the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The Carnival diesel comes powered by a 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel producing 148kW of power and 440Nm of torque, and is paired with the same eight-speed automatic and front-wheel drive layout.

That makes the petrol the most powerful engine in the range, while the diesel variant offers a significant torque boost that helps pick up speed while fully loaded, with both engines offering a generous amount of grunt to get you off the line.

Around town, the Carnival remains user-friendly and approachable for drivers new to vehicles of this size thanks to its lightweight steering rack that has been revised to offer more feedback as you pick up speed, while remaining featherweight during low-speed turns and while parking.

As you pick up speed, the eight-speed transmission is intuitive and works seamlessly, while the ride quality remains soft and accommodating to Australian road conditions while offering enough support in the turns to stay stable at speed.

All up, Kia has done a great job with the driving package on offer in the Carnival, and while it might lack some of the dynamism found in its SUV-twin, the Sorento, it’s a supremely smooth and comfortable family-mover that is easy to drive in town and pleasant on long journeys.

Is it Practical and Spacious?

The Kia Carnival absolutely excels when put under the family test, with the eight-seat layout offering a heap of space for growing families and their gear.

Up front, the Carnival offers a spacious and straightforward cabin for the driver and front passenger, with a generous amount of headroom and an adjustable driving position to accommodate all shapes and sizes of driver.

Storage options in the cockpit include a large central tunnel accommodating a pair of cupholders, a storage tray with USB ports behind the gear lever, a small tray in front of the armrest and a decent amount of storage inside the folding armrest itself, as well as a pair of door bins either side of the cabin.

Move to the second row of the Carnival and you’ll find an extremely clever set of seats that sit on rails that can slide back and forth for passenger extra space, and can even recline for a more comfortable journey. 

Both the second and third rows of the Carnival’s cabin gain a set of air vents and USB chargers.

The seats in the second row sit on their own set of rails, which means they can move individually which allows for a heap of versatility in the rear of the Carnival’s cabin, while the middle seat can be folded down and used as a table with inbuilt cupholders, or removed entirely.

For those with young children, the Carnival’s cabin features no less than three ISOFIX points and three top tether anchors in the second row alone, with another two ISOFIX and top tether mounts in the third row for a total of five in the cabin.

Finally, the third row of the Carnival’s cabin is nice and spacious for any kids in the rear of the cabin, with easy access thanks to the clever retractable seating design and a decent amount of headroom that is perfect for young children.

Boot space for the Kia Carnival stands at a massive 627L, even with three rows of seats standing, which expands to a massive 2785L with all the seats folded, making the Carnival an absolute beast when it comes to practicality.

Is it Safe?

The Kia Carnival has received a five-star ANCAP safety rating, and offers a generous amount of safety equipment, even in the cheapest member of the family.

The entry-level Carnival S comes fitted with autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian, junction and cyclist assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, lane keep assistance with lane centring, adaptive cruise control, driver attention monitoring and curtain airbags for all three rows of seats.

Upgrading to the Carnival SLi and Premium adds a surround-view camera, safe-exit warnings and a rear cross-traffic assist system, however, all the important active safety features can be found on the entry-level Carnival S.

Is it Fuel Efficient?

The Kia Carnival is available with both a 3.5-litre V6 petrol and a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine, with the best fuel economy figures on offer in the Carnival diesel.

For fuel-conscious buyers, the Carnival S powered by Kia’s diesel unit is rated at 6.5L/100km on a combined cycle, while the V6 petrol is rated at 9.6L/100km on a combined cycle, making the diesel by far the most fuel-efficient option within the Carnival range.

Our Verdict: Is the Kia Carnival Worth it?

While there haven’t been any dramatic updates to the Carnival for MY23, it remains ahead of the pack when it comes to accommodating a family of eight in comfort, with a heap of storage options.

Kia’s clever packaging designs make use of every millimetre of space inside the Carnival’s cabin, and offers buyers a heap of flexibility with the seating layout that adapts to your needs, and offers a heap of space inside the large boot - even with three rows of seats standing.

The Carnival drives well, rides comfortably and is packaged with a generous list of entertainment and safety features, even in the base model, with the whole range benefitting from Kia’s outstanding warranty terms that should put it atop your shortlist of family-friendly MPVs that outperform large SUV packages.

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. Seven-year, unlimited KM warranty
  2. Five-star ANCAP safety rating
  3. Eight seat layout with 627L boot
  4. Fuel economy of 9.6L/100km (petrol) and 6.5L/100km (diesel)
  5. Powered sliding doors fitted to SLi & Platinum


  • Smooth engine & transmission combinations

  • Outstanding space and practicality

  • Flexible seating design with a large boot

  • Generous features list with active safety equipment in base model


  • Rear three-quarter blind spots from bulky pillars

  • Basic seat upholstery in entry-level Carnival S

OnlineAuto Rating: 9/10

Kia Carnival Competition

Kia Carnival

Hyundai Staria
Toyota Granvia
LDV Mifa 9


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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