The Kia Carens is the largest car the manufacturer offers and comes with seven seats as standard. Its rivals are the Ford Grand C-Max, Citroen Grand C4 Picasso and the Renault Grand Scenic and all of them are highly accomplished and slightly larger than the Carens.
The Kia’s interior may be a symphony in grey, but the uninspiring layout and crude materials on the basic version are perfect for withstanding the heavy toll of family life. Passenger space in this type of car is a high priority and the Carens is decent if not class leading – the Grand C4 Picasso is more spacious. However, the boot is on par with rivals and has some clever storage areas.
Driving the Carens is confidence inspiring, safe, predictable and as a result quite unexciting. Even though the Kia rides the firmest of all its rivals and even has a ‘Sport’ (!?) mode for its steering it is miles away from the Grand C-Max that proves a seven seater doesn’t have to be boring to drive.
The choice from three engines may sound limited but it’s actually fairly simple – pick the petrol if you plan on using the Kia mainly for the school run, the lower-powered diesel if you enjoy the occasional trip out of town, or the high-power one if you plan on constantly driving the Carens full of people or luggage.
The basic Carens is truly basic – low quality plastic interior, no alloy wheels, but you do get cruise control, remote central locking, air-conditioning and Bluetooth phone connectivity – all essential for family life. Higher up the trim levels the Kia gets more and more luxurious and the top-of-the-range model has just about any extra you’d need in a family seven-seater.
The Carens is a budget MPV that is well worth a look
Kia has got the Carens pretty much right. It doesn’t dwell on things most customers wouldn’t be bothered about anyway, like fun or flair, but gets the important stuff right – practicality, value, equipment and comfort.
That makes it a good choice for family buyers, who’ll also appreciate the Kia’s styling and the typically long warranty.
For a more in-depth look at the Carens, look at the interior, practicality, driving and specifications sections of our review over the following pages. Or, to see what sort of offers are available on the Kia Carens, visit our deals page.