Kia Carens MPV
Price £18,195 - £27,150
- Well equipped
- Practical, versatile interior
- Generous seven-year warranty
- There are cheaper rivals
- Other MPVs are better to drive
- Third-row seats only suitable for kids
At a glance
“The Kia Carens is symbolic of the brand’s recent renaissance. It’s a well built, nicely styled and practical family car.”
The Kia Carens is a mid-sized MPV that's very much in the same mould as the Volkswagen Touran, Renault Grand Scenic and Vauxhall Zafira Tourer. Although it does have seven seats, the two in the third row are only really for occasional use, as they take up pretty much all of the boot space. But with those seats folded away, the Carens has a pretty generous boot – easily big enough for five people's luggage.
There are three engines available – a single 1.6-litre petrol and two 1.7-litre diesels. If running costs are your major concern, we’d recommend one of the diesels (there are 114 and 134bhp models). The less powerful version is the cheapest to run, returning 61.4mpg and costing £30 a year to tax, but it is a little slow.
A Carens with this engine takes 12.6 seconds to go from 0-62mph, so if you regularly carry a full load of people (or luggage), we’d recommend the punchier 134bhp version. This’ll do 0-62mph in 10 seconds and return 56.4mpg. It does cost £130 a year to tax, however.
Your time with the Carens should be a reasonably pleasant one, as long as you get one thing straight: this isn’t a sports car. The suspension has clearly been tuned for comfort rather than dynamic ability. It's a very comfortable cruiser, but if you attempt to take a corner with any sort of verve, there's a lot of body lean, which is sure to give kids in the back motion sickness.
A high driving position and large glass area means you have an excellent view out of the Carens. It's versatile inside, too. All seats in the front two rows slide and fold independently of each other, while there are also loads of storage cubbies dotted around. The glovebox is even refrigerated, so you can keep drinks cool on a warm summer's day.
Speccing your Carens shouldn’t be too much of a problem. There are only five trim levels to choose from (and a very limited number of options). The grades are 1, SR7, 2, 3 and 4. Our recommendation is the 2.
Combine this trim level with the more powerful diesel engine and you’ve got the best balance of performance, fuel economy, purchase price and standard equipment in the Carens range. The 2 model has 16-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a reversing camera, plus interesting exterior and interior details, as well as rain-sensing wipers, rear parking sensors and dual-zone climate control.
Kia has a fantastic reliability record, which is backed up by a generous seven-year/100,000-mile warranty, while Euro NCAP also awarded the Carens five stars for crash safety. It gets load of airbags as standard, as well as cruise control with a speed limiter and the obligatory electronic traction and stability control systems.
Less powerful diesel is the best Kia Carens engine for performance and fuel economy
The Kia Carens doesn’t offer a class-leading drive, but it is comfortable
The Kia Carens has a spacious interior and is quiet on the motorway
Seven seats come as standard with the Kia Carens
The Kia Carens has proven engines and a solidly built interior