FOR A FAMILY WITHOUT A FORTUNE (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
Introductionword count: 88
With smarter looks, an upgraded interior and more sophisticated media connectivity, the revised version of Kia's third generation Carens we saw in 2016 was a much improved 7-seat mid-sized MPV. Though a little smaller than some rivals, it offered as much versatility as most likely buyers needed and potentially, diesel efficiency could better match the class standard too. In other words, you get pretty much everything families are looking for from a compact 7-seat MPV in this segment from the 2016-2019 era. At pricing to undercut most rivals.
Modelsword count: 7
5DR ESTATE (1.6 GDI, 1.7 CRDI [1,2,3])
Historyword count: 355
In many ways, the Kia brand has been built on MPV motoring: for years, its large Sedona model was its best seller here. By the turn of the century though, it was clear that People Carrying segment growth lay in slightly smaller designs, a market targeted with the original Carens model of 1999. This was the kind of car Kia used to make, cheap, practical and very dull. Signs that the brand could do better arrived with its 2006 replacement, but that was still an MPV you bought on sticker price, not necessarily because you really wanted one. By the 21st century's second decade though, Kia had no room for such cars in its line-up any more and accordingly, in 2013, the original version of this third generation Carens model was launched, far more up to date and better packaged than its predecessor. This design, though a little more compact than the MK2 version, managed to be a little larger inside thanks to a longer wheelbase. Which was just as well, given that by this time, Kia was no longer offering its big Sedona MPV in our market, deciding that going forward, the Carens would be the only family-sized people carrier it would offer. Sales in the first three years of MK3 Carens production were steady but unspectacular, possibly because this People Carrier was one of the smaller seven-seat options in the mid-sized MPV sector, but more likely because most buyers didn't really know it existed and signed up instead for better-recognised segment contenders like Vauxhall's Zafira Tourer, Citroen's Grand C4 Picasso, Volkswagen's Touran, Ford's Grand C-MAX and Renault's Grand Scenic. All of these rivals though, were significantly more expensive than this Kia, dealers often justifying that premium with smartly-finished cabins, advanced media connectivity and strong engine efficiency. All of which this Carens claimed to be able to offer too, in the facelifted version of the MK3 model which was launched in 2016 - that's the version of this car we're going to look at here. It sold until 2019, MPV motoring then abandoned by Kia in favour of a tidal wave of different SUVs.
What You Getword count: 632
As with the original version of the MK3 Carens, this Kia only came in a one single body style; unlike Ford, Citroen and Renault, the Korean maker didn't see the need to offer separate five and seven-seat body shapes in this segment. It never did previously either, but older generation Carens models offered the choice of either five or seven seats. Here, you've a seven-seat-only package. Fortunately, that's what most buyers in this sector want. To reassure these people that this MPV is a credible choice, Kia made a few updates to the exterior styling as part of the mid-term package of updates introduced in 2016. Most of the alterations feature at the front, where an updated version of the 'tiger-nose' grille was complemented by revised bumpers and restyled front foglamps. And behind the wheel? Well it was at this point, with the original version of this third generation model, that some potential customers lost interest and went to look at something else. There wasn't really anything wrong with the basic ergonomic design; it just wasn't very interesting. Which is something that Kia's designers did quite a lot to fix with this mid-term facelift and provided you opt for a plusher model, you'll notice quite a lot of difference. Freshly-added metallic and gloss-black accents lift the cabin, as did smart carbon-effect dashboard trim. A more significant change though, lay in the updates Kia made to infotainment provision, this Carens in this updated form fitted with a proper colour touchscreen, a display that was 7-inches in size on standard models, or 8-inches on a top-spec variant. Via this, you can duplicate the functionality of your smartphone on this centre-dash monitor thanks to compatibility with the 'Apple CarPlay' and 'Android Auto' systems. And the second row? Well if you happen to be one of those people who owned the pre-2013 second generation version of this car, you'll notice that things are much more flexible here, the old bench replaced in this case by three separate reclining and sliding chairs. That makes it much easier to properly accommodate three adults but if you are only transporting two people, then the middle seat can be folded forward to create a useful table. All well and good, but in the eyes of its detractors, the issue the Carens always had lay in its lack of third row seating space. So, how does this car fare in reality? Well, the effective middle row tilting and sliding mechanism makes access to the very rear a lot easier than you might expect it to be. Once you get seated in the very back though, it becomes clear that, for adults at least, things are going to be very restricted indeed unless particularly accommodating fellow passengers seated in front of you are prepared to push their sliding seats right forward. This issue is of course relative. If you're the kind of owner likely to buy a Carens, you'll be the sort of person who won't be likely to use these fold-out chairs very often anyway. If when you do, they're only going to be occupied by young children, then what's provided here will probably be quite sufficient. And luggage space? Well, as you would probably expect, with all three rows raised, there isn't much - just 103-litres, though a small compensation in this regard is provided by a neat underfloor compartment that can be used to stow away the removable load cover. Of course as we mentioned previously, the majority of the time, most owners won't be using the third seating row and with those two chairs folded into the floor, there's 492-litres of space on offer below the window line. Push forward the second row too and you get a usefully flat floor and up 1,650-litres of total fresh air.
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Category: MPV People Carriers
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