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One of the most beautiful temples I’ve visited, yes that’s a boat!

Travelling has been a passion in my family. We do quite a few trips but road trips are something that is becoming a ritual and I am very happy about it. Just like that one fine weekend my family decided for a quick road trip over the weekend to our native place. Such a sudden plan does not come very often and I didn’t want to miss it at all. Earlier it was a pack of four but then just 4 days before the trip it got extended to 6 people. I was in a fit as the long termer I relied on could only fit 5 at the maximum. Luckily the good folks at Kia had sent the Carens DCT for that weekend!

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I suppose we could’ve put the luggage in a better manner, but backpacks for luggage aren’t the best

A quick road trip was now in action and I was surprised as to how everyone was ready to go early in the morning. The Kia Carens DCT came to me a day prior and at that time I was surprised on how spacious the car is! Ventilated seats upfront, captain seats in the middle row and a good enough bench in the last row for medium sized adults. While still having space for weekend luggage, this was just perfect. I connected my phone to the infotainment and CarPlay would only work with a wire which was fine. There was enough space in the centre console to put two more phones down, my father was happy.

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Even when the roads open up, some truckers don’t let us pass

We had to visit Sankeshwar, a holy place little ahead of Ahmedabad for a festival celebration. So our pitstop for the night was at Ahmedabad which would roughly take 8-10 hours. But due to the roadworks on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway it took us over 3 hours just to cross 100 kms. Getting out of the city is a task but a single-lane road due to roadwork made it very tedious. We had to stop for breakfast as everyone was frustrated with the traffic, I could see it on their face. Yet everyone kept calm as the Carens was super comfortable and the DCT did not have jerky initial pickup. Maybe I had just gotten used to it nicely within a day’s time.

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Too much traffic meant an early fuel stop for the Kia Carens

Driving it almost for 50 kms a day prior and then the traffic came in. This only meant that I would need to refuel before reaching Ahmedabad. It would have done it one full tank otherwise. So after breakfast I drove continuously till Bharuch exit and luckily the road had gotten better. Traffic, however, was still quite a bit and it was time for lunch. We had amazing Kathiyawadi food and I got the Carens tanked up as well. For the initial leg it returned 10.8 km/l which seemed decent as there was too much to deal with. Getting a better mileage figure while enjoying the trip became my aim.

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I had bookmarked this spot as it had an EV charging station, fuel pump as well as a food court in one spot

It took us almost 11 hours to reach Ahmedabad as the bridge over Mahisagar river on the Vadodara-Ahmedabad expressway was also under repair. By now the mileage figure had improved and we were almost closing to 11.4 km/l. In Ahmedabad at my relative’s place I always have a dedicated parking space. Although it isn’t covered and only one car can be parked, it feels like a showstopper. My relative’s neighbours were very curious as they were considering to buy the Carens and got to see it in person. I gave them a chance to drive around at night and they were very happy.

Since we all stepped out for dinner, everyone appreciated the ambient light as dual tone interior and purple lights felt very unique. Not everyone had experienced ventilated seats and it became a harmless prank for me. Anyone who would sit in the front seats, they would be puzzled on how their back is getting so cool. This tech may not be very new but not it is still quite uncommon. While the people at front kept their cool, there’s a dedicated knob to control the airflow for the second and third row. The cabin would cool down quite nicely and it made the drive even more comfortable on a hot day.

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A dedicated parking spot for the Kia Carens!

The second leg of the road trip was to a small town which meant getting off the main highway. Surprisingly the roads here were much better and the traffic was very less. This meant that I had a great chance to get the mileage number up. Since we were visiting the small town of Sankeshwar, our relative joined in his car. There was enough space for one full size adult to fit but my family got greedy with the comfort. We then split in two cars for the rest of the drive and it was just amazing!

The drive was good until we passed an unmarked speed breaker at a decent speed. Freshly paved, no markings on it, not even a warning sign on the road. We slowed down enough but both of our cars got a little bit of airtime. And I have to say, I was happy I was driving the Carens. Luckily both the cars didn’t have any damage but the passengers in the other car had their head banged to the roof. In the Carens, everyone was buckled in and hence nothing happened to anyone. It felt quite safe and suspension absorbed almost everything.

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Kia Carens has very impressive headlight I must say

As we were in the crowded and small town of Sankeshwar, it was getting very difficult to get around in the car. Innova cabs coming from different cities parked themselves on the main road and didn’t enter the final lane. As soon as I got in, I realised there was a good chance I will be stuck. The Carens, however, surprised us all as I could drop my family all the way to the temple’s main entrance. Not a single local bothered us as it stood out of the crowd and looked like a premium car, even the security helped me out to take a safe U-turn. The Kia Carens does feel big in tight spaces but the big windows give a good view of what’s around.

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Most of the Gujarat state passes through the Tropic of Cancer

We completed the festival visit and headed back to Ahmedabad the same day. This town passes through the Tropic of Cancer and I took a U-turn just to capture a picture with the sign. My relative who was earlier leading the road started following my lead as it got dark. The headlights of the Kia Carens are quite good, as the LED illumination spreads nicely on the road. There’s a small fog lamp set too and it does help in pitch dark conditions. The high-beam is very direct and it somewhat blinds the traffic coming up.

With enough fuel to spare we reached Ahmedabad back safely and rested for the night. There’s ample room in the Carens to put your stuff without worrying at all. The doors for example, have enough space to store 3 full size 1-litre bottles. While there’s a cup holder right before the AC that can cool your drink or water. Behind the passenger seat there’s a proper tray to enjoy some food while it has a slot to hold the iPad as well. The air purifier is placed behind the drivers seat and it can be turned off when not needed. That’s the only thing that bothered me as the fan got loud in turbo more and it was too close to my ear.

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Sedans have a fan following but MPVs provide the practicality for a bigger family

The next morning after refuelling I knew that it would make it to Mumbai without a fuel stop. The mileage figure had reached 12.1 km/l by now and we would be home in 11 hours, at least that’s what the maps told us. Everything was great until we were about 110 kms outside Mumbai. We had a single pit stop for brunch and no one complained even once. Continuously driving for 8 hours with just a single stop and yet everyone inside is comfortable, this say a lot about the suspension balance and overall comfort. The last section was a test of its time.

As we saw the traffic jam we stopped for a quick bite. Because the maps showed us just 3 hours to our destination but the traffic wasn’t moving and the ETA kept increasing. It took us exactly 5 hours from there and it was complete crawling traffic. Even in such a condition the DCT never overheated while the 1.5 turbo petrol engine felt like a gem as I could work my way around the different driving modes. There were times when I had to get on to the side road to clear some trucks and even then the steering and suspension feedback was on point.

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Kia Carens and Hyundai Exter, cousins that offer amazing headroom

For a quick weekend road trip, I really found the Kia Carens very comfortable and yet enthusiastic at heart! The CarPlay had no issues, while I would use the cruise control from time to time on open stretches. Steering had a great feedback even though the Carens is long, one could only feel the length in traffic or tight parking situations. The tyres too go well with the dynamics of the car. The perfect place to be in the Carens is the middle road as there’s sunshade on the windows as well.

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26 hours of driving over 3 days and yet it wasn’t tiring at all

You can ask for all the creature comfort as the Kia Carens manages to check quite a lot of boxes. The interior feels premium, while it does standout in terms of exterior design. Lots of storage spaces while getting in the third row is very easy. By just pressing a button on the middle row, it tumbles and yet there’s enough headroom for tall passengers. By the end of the trip I could attain 12 km/l, however, there was a point when the number had almost reached 13. I couldn’t possibly get the best mileage possible but my family was extremely happy as a quick weekend trip was a damn comfortable one!

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