It is not easy to topple the segment topper, but Kia hopes to capture the premium MPV market with their Carnival.

Kia Carnival 1
The Carnival scores big on space, comfort and quality

The Multi-Purpose Vehicle or MPV segment has had a perennial favourite in the form of the Toyota Innova for over a decade. The car has done exceedingly well for the company and the fact that the last generation stayed for eleven years is a testimony to that. The new Crysta is no slouch either. It has picked up where the old one left and continues to be a volume seller despite its premium price.

But now, Kia is keen on entering the segment with their Carnival. The Carnival is a range-topping MPV from Kia which is also known as ‘Sedona’ in some markets. Kia is studying if the Carnival could be one of the five cars the company aims to launch in 18 months.

It is a promising MPV and there are no two ways about it. It packs the prescribed formula of great space, superb equipment, strong engines, and excellent comfort. The car is sold in many major markets including the US. It appears like Kia has the right car to give the Innova Cryta sleepless nights and there are many reasons why we should be watching this fight closely.

The Carnival looks beautiful in a very unusual way. It has an unmistakable mini-van silhouette but it hardly looks bland. There is an air of sophistication and a high-end feel to its design. In fact, the whole car feels suave and sophisticated. The front is dominated by the typical Kia tiger-nose grille and very angular headlights. The butch face gels well with the rest of the design. The side looks stately and the sliding doors make it unique. Whereas the rear of the Innova looks like a bit abrupt, in the Kia, it looks perfectly balanced.

The design may not be the prime concern in this segment. But the Kia brings something new to the table and it is a car that will be noticed on the road. That is largely to do with its dimensions. It is a big vehicle being 380 mm longer, 155 mm wider, yet 40 mm shorter in height than the Toyota. This gives it a near-perfect stance. The Innova is definitely not a bad looking car but the Kia has an edge here.

The interior of the Innova Crysta is supremely well appointed. Whether it’s just the overall look or the quality of materials, this interior impresses. The Kia’s interior ends up looking a bit utilitarian in comparison. It is not as radical as the Toyota’s. But it scores just as high when it comes to the equipment and general quality.

The Kia gives the Crysta a tough fight and also wins by a margin when it comes to space. Being larger than the Innova, the Carnival is blessed with humongous space on the inside. The seats are wide and supportive. The captain chairs in the second row can be slid forward and backward and can be reclined. You also get a dedicated climate-control. The third row is not very spacious but is still better than the one in the Crysta. The boot is usable enough with all seats up and simply carnivorous with the seats down.

It is an even closer fight between the two in comfort. But we suspect the Kia would have a slight edge given its added space and more comfortable cushioning. The monocoque construction of the Kia will also make it more consistent in terms of ride quality.

The diesel engine in the Carnival produces much more power than the one in the Innova Crysta. The 2.2-litre motor puts out a healthy 197 HP and 440 Nm of peak torque. This will make the big MPV potent and effortless to cruise. Kia may have to work a bit on fuel efficiency because of the large engine and the torque converter automatic gearbox.

With all things considered, the Kia Carnival looks like a very tempting alternative to the Toyota Innova. It has got everything and more. All that is left now as a challenge for Kia is to make its aftersales service as reliable as Toyota’s. But that won’t be too difficult given that Kia tops the charts of reliability surveys globally. Kia is hinting at a price of Rs. 22 lakhs for the Carnival which makes it a wee bit more expensive than the Innova. However, as we have seen with the current generation Innova, premium pricing doesn’t seem to be an issue with majority buyers.

The Innova has a loyal fan following. There are many people who opt for a second or even third Innova in their garage. The task for Kia is to lure these buyers and make them enter the Kia showrooms. I think there is enough potential in the product but how much of it can Kia display to the public will be the key to its success. It is never going to be a volume driver for Kia. But the Carnival can establish Kia as a premium brand and this image will certainly help the rest of the lineup.

It is expected that Kia will launch the Carnival in 2020. It will give Kia enough time to study the market in detail and fine tune the MPV. It has the caliber to create a segment of its own and for our part, we are very excited to see another game changer in this space.

Kia Carnival vs Toyota Innova

– The Carnival is going to be more premium than the Innova Crysta
– Kia has immense potential to give the Innova Crysta a tough fight
– The Carnival will also help the brand establish a premium image

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