First Drive: Kia Grand Carnival 2.2 CRDi, the MPV contender to look out for

The first-generation Kia Carnival or Naza Ria as most of us are familiar with, was one of the first premium MPVs available in the Malaysian market in early 2000’s. The full-sized MPV made its way to many homes as the mum mobile and a very well-rounded weekend family mover.

Whether its ferrying the kids to football practise or picking up the in-laws in one go, the Carnival was the perfect family car. Unfortunately, its popularity was short lived due to its poor reliability and terribly low resale value. It also didn’t help that consumers were turning to parallel importers that had plenty more to offer.

Unsurprisingly, Naza Kia Malaysia (NKM) skipped the second-generation Kia Grand Carnival altogether in favour of other higher volume sellers. Fast forward to 2017, the Grand is back with the recently launched third-generation Kia Grand Carnival. We joined NKM for a relaxing afternoon in Janda Baik to celebrate the return of the Grand Carnival to the Malaysian market and here is what we learnt from our short stint in it.


NameKia Grand Carnival 2.2 CRDi KXKia Grand Carnival 2.2 CRDi EX
Engine2,199cc; Common Rail Direct Injection VGT turbodiesel
Transmission6-speed automatic
Max Power190 hp @ 3,800 rpm
Max Torque440 Nm @ 1,750 – 2,750 rpm
Price (OTR with insurance)RM165,888RM185,888


Our drive began in the mid-spec KX, seemingly bummed out that we won’t get to start our day in the most expensive and luxurious EX trim. However, after getting comfortable in the back seat of the mid-spec Grand Carnival, I had no qualms about this particular variant. Despite being RM20k cheaper than the EX trim, I find myself fiddling with features that even most competitors don’t have such as rear sunshades, USB charging ports and powered sliding doors on both sides.

The range topping variant does come with extra bells and whistles to play with but I can’t justify the 10 percent jump in price for nice to have items such as tri-zone climate control, powered driver seats and the powered tailgate (the manual tailgate is on the lighter end of the scale anyway). Really, the KX has all you need and more but of course, if you’re able to splurge, the EX is certainly a better deal; just remind yourself that you’ll be driving around in that horrendous beige interior.


Propulsion on the Grand Carnival comes from a 2.2-litre Common Rail Direct Injection (CRDi) VGT turbodiesel, the same unit found in the Sorento CRDi. In this application, the motor dishes out 190 hp and 440 Nm of torque, sending drive to the front-wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission.

For your everyday commute, the Grand Carnival will pull to highway speeds in a brisk and linear fashion. In town, the gearshifts are smooth and precise while the diesel rattling at idle is negligible and is by no means unrefined or intrusive. However, should you exit a toll booth and cheekily hit the pedal to the floor, all 440 Nm of twisting force spins the front wheels from 1,750 rpm, causing the tyres to squeal for grip. Did I mention its frugal too?


To give credit where its due, the engineers at Kia has done an exceptional job in the ride dynamics department for the Grand Carnival, achieving optimal balance between handling prowess and ride comfort. Snaking along the twisty Karak Highway, the large MPV was able to hold its ground fantastically with minimal body roll. Driving through the jarring roads of Klang Valley, the Grand Carnival absorbs all the undulations without complaints. Bear in mind that its running on 18-inch alloys.

Interestingly, Kia has opted for a hydraulic steering set up as opposed to an electronic module. Now if you think that a hydraulic steering is going to send superior road feedback to your palms, you’d be disappointed. Kia has deliberately tuned the steering towards the numb end of the spectrum for better comfort on longer journeys without having to hang onto a heavy and overly sensitive steering wheel.


Measuring at 5,115 mm in length, 1,740 mm in height and 1,985 mm in width the Grand Carnival’s dimensions dwarfs the likes of Toyota Alphard and Vellfire. The designers at Kia have maximised every inch of its 3,060 mm wheelbase to create lounge-like comfort for every passenger. Even with three adults side by side in third row, there was no rubbing of shoulders or fighting for space in the footwell.

What is more impressive is the available legroom and kneeroom for second and third row occupants. Despite sliding the second-row bench all the way back, an average height adult can still be accommodated in the third row comfortably without his knees rubbing the seats. All that with 960 litres of boot space to spare.


It is in fact a great value deal if you’re shopping for an upmarket MPV, the only thing that you need to really consider is whether you have parking space that fits a five-meter long MPV and the unflattering beige interior. All things considered, the Grand Carnival is a closer competitor to the Alphard/Vellfire duo than it is to the similarly priced Hyundai Grand Starex.

Overall, the Grand Carnival is a proper luxury MPV that punches well above its weight. Couple that with a full suite of safety features such as six airbags, ABS with EBD, Brake Assist, ESC, hill-start assist, front parking sensors and ISOFIX mounting points, it’s easy to understand why it’s moving out of dealerships by the dozens.

If you’re considering a reconditioned MPV from the grey market for below RM200k, perhaps you should pay a visit to your nearest Kia showroom and see for yourself what this fully-imported Kia Grand Carnival has to offer. Besides, no used car dealer is going to offer you a 5-Year unlimited mileage warranty package, smart financing package and Kia Value 5 Plus that guarantees the resale value of the vehicle.



Kia Grand Carnival 2.2 CRDi EX

Kia Grand Carnival 2.2 CRDi KX




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