Kia Carens MPV
Price £18,195 - £27,055
- Plenty of equipment
- Comfortable and refined
- Practical seven-seat layout
- Getting expensive
- Not the best MPV to drive
- Third-row seats only for occasional use
At a glance
"The Carens has been brought up to Kia’s now-familiar high standards of design, technology and build quality."
The Kia Carens is a mid-size, seven-seat people carrier whose rivals include the Vauxhall Zafira Tourer, Renault Grand Scenic, Ford Grand C-MAX and Volkswagen Touran. It's a good-looking car with a well designed and constructed interior (the rearmost seats fold flat to the floor), plus a market-leading seven-year warranty. It's also slightly cheaper than its main rivals.
It's available with a choice of three engines: a 1.6-litre petrol and a 1.7-litre diesel with two power outputs. We prefer the latter for their lower running costs. For example, the 114bhp version does 61.4mpg and costs £30 to tax. However, it's a little slow (0-62mph takes 12.6 seconds) so if all seven seats are often full, we’d advise going for the 134bhp model (56.4mpg, £130 tax and 10 seconds from 0-62mph).
The Kia puts space and practicality above driving pleasure. It's not uncomfortable – just a bit dull, with slightly numb steering that discourages sporty driving and too much body lean in corners. On the plus side, it's a quiet and comfortable cruiser.
The Carens is a compact car, which, coupled with its high-ish driving position and good visibility, makes it very easy to drive in town. It's smaller than the previous model, but the current Carens is actually roomier inside and more flexible: all the seats can slide and fold individually every which way. There are plenty of storage places dotted around the cabin as well. Just one thing to be aware of, though: the third-row seats really are for children only.
The Kia is a straightforward car and so is its range of trim levels, with four versions simply badged 1 to 4. In addition, there's a special-edition SR7 that sits between levels 1 and 2. Our pick of the range is 2 for its balance of a reasonable price and decent standard equipment that includes 16-inch alloy wheels, attractive exterior and interior details, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, reversing sensors and dual-zone climate control.
A great reliability record backed up by Kia's impressive seven-year warranty puts Carens owners' minds at east. It's a safe car, too, scoring five stars in Euro NCAP crash-testing to prove it. Just to be sure, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control and hill-start assistance all figure on its list of standard safety equipment.
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