Review: Kia Carens (2006 – 2012)


Option of seven usable seats, all rear seats fold into the boot floor, spacious interior, five-year warranty on models sold since September 2006.

Foot-operated parking brake is old fashioned, poor turning circle.

Kia Carens (2006 – 2012): At A Glance

The previous Kia Carens was a decent enough vehicle - roomy, pleasant, reasonable to drive and at very fair list prices. The trouble was at heavily discounted transaction prices, the better looking and better to drive Citroen Xsara Picasso wiped the floor with it.

But now the goalposts have shifted. Citroen is still there with 5-seater Xsara Picasso Desire diesels from around £9,800 via a broker. And its much more expensive new 7-seater C4 Picasso.

Vauxhall offers a much-improved new Zafira. Renault has updated its Scenic. Ford has the excellent S-Max. And both Vauxhall and Renault offer 7-seater diesel automatics.

So what sort of a fight does the new Kia Carens put up against all this stiff competition?

Obviously before discounts, it's still price competitive, starting at £11,995 for the petrol engined 5-seater and £14,495 for the diesel engined 7-seater. While diesel automatics start at a very enticing £15,495.

Kia Carens 2006 Road Test

What does a Kia Carens (2006 – 2012) cost?

Kia Carens (2006 – 2012): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4493–4545 mm
Width 1748–1820 mm
Height 1650–1720 mm
Wheelbase 2560–2700 mm

Full specifications

It's good looking, not in an alien South Korean kind of way, but aesthetically pleasing by any standards. It has a pleasant interior, with practical touches like a shelf in front of the passenger, a dashboard that doesn't reflect in the windscreen and even a ‘curry hook' in the passenger footwell.

All the seats fold flat; the rearmost two particularly easily. The centre row slides fore and aft 60/40 so legoom can be arranged to suit the occupants. And the plastics, cloth and carpeting are all good quality, without that curious fishy smell that once used to emanate from South Korean interiors.

It's easy to get comfortable. The mirrors are nice and big giving a good view of the car's flanks. The indicator stalk is, correctly, on the right of the column so you can change gear with your left hand and flick the indicators with the fingers of your right. The parking brake is like an automatic's. Kick on with your left foot and release with your left hand. Though I prefer a hand brake, it's actually no hassle, probably because the release is sensibly on the left rather than the right of the steering column.


Child seats that fit a Kia Carens (2006 – 2012)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Kia Carens (2006 – 2012) like to drive?

We drove the diesel automatic first. Straight out into Belfast traffic. It was immediately apparent that the car would make a very good taxi. The box only has four ratios and as long as your expectations are reasonably modest, it's smooth and pleasant and makes a decent fist of getting on with the job. Top gear works out at around 35mph per 1,000rpm so cruising at 70 you're bang on peak torque that lasts from 1,800 to 2,500rpm.

Our route in the auto was mostly straight, so it wasn't until we swapped to a manual that we were able to push it a bit and find the handling limits on corners. That eventually shows up as roll understeer, not to early to be annoying and with plenty of warning to behave yourself before things get out of hand. Most drivers will have no problem at all with it.

I wound up coming back to Belfast in the midst of the evening rush hour, which is always a good test for drivability with a vehicle like this. The good mirrors, light clutch and smooth power delivery ensured no problems at all.

So, a very good mid-size 7-seater, sensibly priced and available with the autobox so many drivers prefer these days from a list price of just £15,495. Nothing else comes close for the money except at a very big discount.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.6 39 mpg 11.6 s 174 g/km
1.6 CRDi 50 mpg - 146–149 g/km
2.0 33–35 mpg 10.6–11.9 s 192–200 g/km
2.0 CRDi 39–46 mpg 11.0–13.5 s 159–189 g/km

Real MPG average for a Kia Carens (2006 – 2012)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

26–54 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Kia Carens (2006 – 2012)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

I'm looking at two used cars, one LPG and one diesel - which is the better choice?

I'm looking to buy a secondhand, seven-seater car that runs on LPG. I wanted an LPG car because I'm looking for a way to save money on fuel costs. However, I never had an LPG car before. I've shortlisted two cars but one of them is not LPG so would like your advice on which one is better to buy. The first is a 2009 Vauxhall Zafira, Petrol/LPG, 98k miles for £1150. I asked the seller if the timing belt was changed and he said no, but also told me not to worry about it because this is a petrol car and that diesel cars are the ones that have problem with the timing belt. Second is a 2007 Vauxhall Zafira B 1.8,16v design, diesel, 93k miles for £1195. It has a full service history, stamp, cambelt was changed at 88k miles and was well looked after.
Do not buy the LPG Zafira. The seller is talking rubbish - it should have had its timing belt changed years ago. And even if the service history was good (which it isn't), I wouldn't recommend buying a 10 year-old-car that runs on LPG - the costs will be huge if anything goes wrong with it. A seven-seat version of the Kia Carens would be a much more reliable choice.
Answered by Dan Powell
More Questions

What Cars Are Similar To The Kia Carens (2006 – 2012)?

Key attributes of the this model are: Diesel engine, Family friendly, Generous head room, Seven seats, Versatile interior and MPV.

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