So you probably read my rant yesterday about the incredibly frustrating process of buying this vehicle. But when I drove it out of the dealership (after they had polished out a small scratch that I found on a rear panel – OMG yes I am serious but I wasn’t going to not take it after THREE months!!), I was thankful that we had persevered!
So first the details. This is the brand new Kia Grand Carnival VQ MY12 SLi Diesel 2.2L. The engine is an in-line 4 cyl VGT CRDi 16 valve, with a 6 speed automatic (Sportsmatic) gearbox.
We are upgrading from a 2007 Kia Grand Carnival for a couple of reasons. One was that we have just hit 100,000kms and Daddy Smiles was concerned that we would have to start shelling out some big bucks for ongoing maintenance. The other reason was that we were keen to move onto the diesel engine due improved fuel efficiency. This is a big thing for us as we drive 30 mins to school each day, which is 2 hours of driving every day as a minimum. The fuel economy is listed at 8.1L/100km (compared to 10.9L/100km). And I have to say that I have noticed that change in fuel consumption quite significantly. We are getting many more kms out of a tank of fuel, and of course it is cheaper to fill up at the bowser.
There are two different diesel models – the Platinum and the SLi. The Platinum is the top of the range and features an electric operating tailgate, a sunroof, and rear-parking sensors – of which we specifically didn’t want, so the SLi was the obvious choice.
One of the features that I LOVE is the electric sliding side doors. These can be opened remotely with the key pad which is brilliant for when the kids are running ahead of me and can jump straight in, or when my arms are full of bags, artwork and baby, I can just press a button and unload without dropping anything. It’s also possible to open the doors manually, and with a tiny pull at the handle, the doors slides back gracefully with no effort at all on my part. The kids squealed when they saw the doors open “magically”! The door controls can also be found at the driver command centre, and the curved mirror lets you keep an eye on the kids!
The seats are a beautiful leather and are a lot softer than I anticipated. The front seat arm rests can fold up and down, but unlike our old Grand Carnival, they can not be set at any height – they are either up or down. It doesn’t sound like a big thing but it was quite noticeable to us. The centre console tray can also be folded down to allow more room if needed.
I love that my iPhone connects through the car’s Bluetooth system which gives me the true handsfree experience. It is synced into the stereo system for fantastic clarity, and the steering wheel controls mean my hands don’t ever leave the wheel to answer an incoming call.
Also on the steering wheel are the control for the radio, which saves reaching across to turn the music up or down, or to change stations. I have been using this quite a lot so that I can listen to when the kids are talking or crank it up when Lady Gaga pumps out the tunes.
There is a MP3 CD player with AUX/USB input & iPod compatibility but … when I picked up the car I had to sign a disclosure statement saying that the Apple adaptor should not be used as it could cause a malfunction, and ONLY Kia genuine accessories should be used. Now I find this a little bit ridiculous – to advertise iPod compatibility but not Apple compatibility. I tried my iPhone with Apple adaptor (um-ahh), but it didn’t read. Not sure if this is an iPhone/iPod issue or a Kia/Apple issue. Either way it’s rather frustrating.
The reversing camera is set very cleverly into the rear vision mirror. When you hit reverse, the camera appears and is crystal clear. Change back into drive and you have the full length of rear vision mirror again.
Now one of the questions I am most often asked is how I configure the care seats for four children. You can see that we have removed the middle row seat from the driver’s side. We use this space as a landing pad. It means I can get the big three kids off the road and into the car in a matter of seconds. I then shut the door and they can sort themselves out while I go around and load Lucy into her capsule. It’s also a perfect spot for school bags and shopping bags, and even a nappy changing area!!
So in the middle row I have Miss L in a Maxi Cosi Pebble, and Miss K in a Recaro Pro Sport. At the back on each side are Miss M and Mr F in their Maxi Cosi Air Protects. Just a side note, I recommend you speak with your car insurance provider about coverage for your child’s car seats, as most will have a maximum payout for seats that have not been itemised separately, so it’s worth a quick phone call to make sure they are covered!
Probably the clincher for the Grand Carnival is the boot size. Even with the back row seats up, there is still ample room in the boot. It easily fits my Stokke Xplory as well as a weekly grocery shop (especially when using the landing pad in the middle row!). When you fold down the rear seats, the area is ENORMOUS and you could fit just about anything in the back!
Now the crazy thing is that I hadn’t ever driven the 2.2L until this one! I had test driven the 2.9L and it was awful! Slow and sluggish, and absolutely no power at take-off. I was used to the powerful V6 petrol, and hated the 2.9 dieselL! So I was really nervous about how the 2.2L would perform. I am pleased to say it is brilliant. It has enough power to get me off the line quickly and shifts smoothly through the 6 gears. Whilst the road noise is quieter in the new model, I can definitely notice the increased noise of the diesel engine. It’s not annoying though – it just makes me feel like I am driving a bus or a big rig – and what’s not to love about that!
So all in all I am thrilled with the new Grand Carnival. It is comfortable and easy to drive, and easily adaptable to suit any family configuration. It has lots of luxury touches, but is also competitively priced and offers great value for money. I can not possibly imagine any other vehicle that is more suitable for us at this time in our lives. As the children move out of their car seats, we will have extra seating to cater for car-pooling and days out with grandparents.
If you are in the market for a new Grand Carnival, and you are based in or around Brisbane, I can recommend you contact Michael at Toowong Kia. Let him know I sent you, and he’ll be sure to look after you!