The Kia Carens first came out in 2000 but did little to impress the market. Unfortunately it lived up to the meaning of its name, Carens, which means lacking in Latin. The vehicle was meant to be a sign of simplicity and value for the Korean manufacturer, but instead the model delivered a four-wheeled box design that could only hold a few individuals. Thankfully the latest model is worlds away from its predecessors, boasting of refinement, class, quality, and comfort that are in line with the brand’s 21st century image.
Drivers and passengers can expect a comfortable and versatile interior in the Carens, but what really distinguishes this model is its tiger nose design language. On one hand, the employment of such elements makes it stand out from others. But on the other, it doesn’t fit as well with the other elements such as the fixed MPV template.
Although the Carens does not succeed as well in aesthetics, the Carens is able to offer improved packaging. The latest model is slightly smaller than before but also includes a 50mm addition in the wheelbase. For better ride and handling, the torsion bar out back and the MacPherson struts on the front have been suspended.
The cabin prioritizes function over form. Don’t expect its look to stand out against other alternatives, but the interior delivers where it matters: you won’t have any problems looking for the appropriate button for a given situation. Passengers won’t have any problem fitting in thanks to the front pews and three individual middle-row seats. The mid-row seats are easily adjustable via a slide and tilt function. Headroom and shoulder space is equal to the Carens’ competitors.
Boot space depends on the seats adjusted. When the third row is left on the floor, only up to 492-litres can be accommodated. But once the middle row has been placed down, a flat floor gives way for 1650 litres. There are also two rear seats that can be raised up using pull ties. Use these extra seats with caution, however, as they can only accommodate short individuals. Taller passengers are best placed in the default seating areas.
The Carens comes with a good range of engine choices: from the 1.7 CRD diesels at 134bhp to the 1.6 GDI petrol at 133bhp. All three come with the standard six-speed manual gearbox. Although the 1.6-litre unit tends to struggle on steep inclines, it’s able to do the job on regular journeys around town. The higher-powered diesel engine is obviously the better choice for anyone who regularly drives long distances.
Although the Carens boasts of able steering, its ride tends to falter in some aspects. Riding along choppy surfaces is a challenge. Body movement is kept at a minimum along lumps and bumps, but the car doesn’t absorb B-road disturbances compared to similar models. Fidgety is the best word to describe a ride on the Carens. This could cause some slight discomfort; the plus side is there is no actual harshness to the experience. Bangs and crashes are at least kept at a minimum.
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