Review: KIA Carens (2013)
Good looking seven-seat people carrier. Comes with seven year warranty. Practical cabin. Easy to drive.
Not as good to drive as a Ford C-MAX.
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KIA Carens (2013): At A Glance
Seven-seat MPVs are likely to be bought with the head, rather than the heart – and they don’t come much more sensible than the Kia Carens. The easy-to-drive, comfortable people carrier does everything you could ask of it with consummate ease, making it the ideal choice for a growing family.
It’s larger than its predecessor because it now fills two roles, replacing both the previous generation Carens and the larger Sedona, which is no longer available. It bridges the gap between the two very well. It's comfortable and easy to drive, plus has a sizeable load area, useable extra seats and a good level of standard equipment. Furthermore it should be cheap to run, thanks to frugal engines and an excellent seven-year warranty package.
Kia offers the Carens with a 1.6-litre 135PS petrol engine or a 1.7-litre CRDi diesel with either 115PS or 135PS. Particularly impressive are the diesel engines, which offer a usefully broad spread of torque for easy every driving, coupled with excellent refinement and good economy. Those who need an automatic transmission are restricted to the 135PS diesel engine.
Despite being a tall MPV the Carens rolls very little through corners, yet it is still comfortable over broken surfaces and speed bumps. The cabin is plush, classy and easy to get to grips with while quality is up there with the best – the Carens feels like it’s built to last.
There are other people carriers that offer more space, like the Ford Galaxy or SEAT Alhambra, while the Citroen C4 Grand Picasso is more stylish and the Ford C-MAX perhaps is better to drive. However the Carens is a well rounded, easy-to-recommend MPV that offers good value for money.
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KIA Carens (2013): What's It Like Inside?
All variants of the Carens come with seven seats, the rearmost pair of which fold out from the boot floor. They’re effortlessly easy to raise or lower and they offer enough space for children, but adults won’t be very comfortable even on short trips. Adults will fit comfortably into the middle row, though, which has three individual seats that recline and slide.
They rear two seats are designed for occasional use, so will spend most of their time folded flat. That leaves a well-sized, flat load deck with a capacity of 492 litres, expandable to a huge 1650 litres with the middle row of seats folded. For a growing family the Carens is ideal – there’s enough space and versatility for trips away.
A 30/30/30 split arrangement in the middle row adds even more practicality. It's possible to carry a pair of back row passengers with enough space left over for long items such as DIY gear or ski equipment. There are also plenty of cubby holes for storing bottles or small objects and, on upper trim levels, picnic tables in the seat backs.
Not only is the Carens practical but it’s also well-finished. The plastics on the dashboard and doors feel durable and plush, with classy gloss black details. The infotainment system isn’t the most modern and flash, but it does everything you’d need it to and is about as intuitive as they come.
There’s a good level of equipment too. All models have automatic headlights, air conditioning, steering wheel audio controls, all-round electric windows, cruise control and a USB connection. Moving up to higher trim levels adds alloy wheels, parking sensors and dual-zone climate control.
1 is the entry trim and comes with 16-inch steel wheels, tinted glass, automatic headlights, black cloth seats, a leather-trimmed wheel, leather-trimmed gear lever, air conditioning, steering-wheel mounted audio controls, cruise control, speed limiter, stop/start, USB-connection, aux-in, twin 12v sockets and remote central locking.
2 adds 16-inch alloy wheels, gloss black details, roof rails, front fog lights, rain-sensing wipers, electrically folding door mirrors with puddle lights, faux-leather door trim, dual-zone climate control, front seatback picnic trays, a luggage area 12v output, a luggage net and reversing sensors.
3 comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sun roof, ‘aeroblade’ windscreen wipers with de-icers, 10-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat, leather upholstery, heated steering wheel, second row window blinds, 4.3-inch touch-screen audio system and a reversing camera.
Child seats that fit a KIA Carens (2013)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.
What's the KIA Carens (2013) like to drive?
There are two engines on offer – a 1.6-litre petrol with 135PS and a 1.7-litre diesel, which is available with either 115PS or 135PS. All cars come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard while a six-speed automatic is available with the 135PS diesel in '2' trim.
The diesel engines are particularly impressive thanks to their ample torque output, which is available over a wide rev-range. The 115PS model develops 260Nm, available from as low down as 1250rpm meaning you don't have to work it hard, even when fully loaded. The 135PS has a greater peak torque figure of 330Nm and feels even stronger as a result.
That said, neither will leave you wanting, with plenty of accessible performance for overtaking or joining motorways. Those who regularly carry a full car might benefit from the larger engine, but for most the 115PS diesel will probably be suitable.
The less powerful diesel manages official economy of 60.1mpg and emissions of 124g/km, while the 135PS version manages a still respectable 56.4mpg and 132g/km. These figures are 46.3mpg and 159g/km if you opt for the smooth automatic transmission.
The 1.6-litre petrol is perfectly decent too, though its lack of torque relative to the diesels might pose problems for people who carry a full complement of passengers most of the time. It’s ideal for town use though, plus it’s reasonably efficient. Official figures are 44.1mpg – not bad for a petrol MPV this size.
The Carens is a very easy car to drive. The seating position is comfortable and commanding, while the main controls are light and accurate. Ride comfort is excellent over all but the harshest lumps and bumps, yet everything remains composed through corners, with little body roll and a feeling of safe stability.
It's not the most enjoyable car to drive, so spirted drivers will be left wanting when they find themselves on an enjoyable stretch of twisting country road. That's more or less to be expected with an MPV, but the Ford C-MAX and Mazda5 both offer fun handling despite being people-carriers.
The steering on the Carens has three weight settings – comfort, normal and sport – but there’s little point in changing out of ‘normal’, which offers enough weight at speed and through corners but is light enough for parking. The sport setting makes everything a little too heavy, while the comfort setting is a bit too light.
|1.6 GDi||46 mpg||10.9 s||143–149 g/km|
|1.7 CRDi||59–63 mpg||10.0–11.6 s||118–127 g/km|
|1.7 CRDi 114||61–63 mpg||12.6–13.2 s||109–124 g/km|
|1.7 CRDi Automatic||59 mpg||11.6 s||127 g/km|
Real MPG average for a KIA Carens (2013)
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.
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 (2013)?
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