Who says family cars have to be dull… not Kia, that’s for sure. Their third generation Carens now has the sharp looks to match its load lugging and family hauling credentials.

The awkward lumpy bumpy looks of the old model have long gone, replaced with a sleek and sophisticated profile in-line with Kia’s new style direction, featuring the signature ‘tiger-nose’ grille.

Yet interior cabin space hasn’t been compromised by the swanky looks either: a 50mm increase in wheelbase and lower seat positions mean head and legroom is aplenty and you’ll find a places dotted around to stash your stuff, including under floor cubbies and enormous door pockets incorporating bottle holders.

There are five trim levels: 1, 2, 3, 4 and SR7. Tested here is the mid-spec grade ‘3’. All variants get seven seats, cruise control, air-con, clean-air purification, heated mirrors, glovebox cooling, six speaker audio with iPod/ MP3connectivity and Bluetooth.

Standard safety kit includes Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability Management and Electronic Stability Control.

Carens comes available with a 133 bhp petrol engine capable of returning 44.1 mpg and a 1.7 diesel offered in two states of tune – 114 bhp and 134 bhp. Emissions for these are 60.1mpg and 117g/km and 56.5mpg and 118g/km respectively. Kia’s Intelligent Stop & Go (ISG) engine stop-start system is standard on all manual-gearbox models.

Stepping inside the new Carens is a genuinely pleasing experience. Forget Kia’s of old, this one has the ambience and quality feel rivalling many European rivals. We appreciated the mix of soft touch plastics, aluminium inserts and piano black glossy finishes. Our only quibbles being a small infotainment screen and lack of sat nav.

Driving around the twisty roads of Millbrook, the Carens shows itself to be a competent, if unexciting steer. Body roll is well controlled and there’s more than enough grip and the brakes are worthy of praise, too –  but you won’t be grinning ear-to-ear savouring every nuance of steering input as you press on along twisty B-roads. This is a family car after all. If viewed in that context we doubt you’ll find cause for complaint. More useful is the car’s inherent drive train smoothness that allows gear changes to be undertaken without any jolting … now that’s surely to be appreciated by everyone on board. As is the level of refinement: the smooth ride effectively irons out the usual lumps and bumps found on British roads and noise intrusion is well suppressed, although the 1.7-litre  diesel can get a little gruff when extended. Performance for an MPV is more than sufficient and the slick 6-speed gearbox works like a knife through butter.


Like its predecessors, the Carens is built for family life, with a plethora of day-to-day functionality.
Traditional brand values of reliability and peace-of-mind (all Kia’s come with a seven year / 100,000 mile warranty) have now been joined by desirable looks and significantly improved cabin trim quality and mechanical refinement. Consequently the Carens now isn’t simply the family car you ought to have –  it’s the one you’ll probably want, too.

Tech spec:

Kia Carens ‘3’ 1.7 CRDi manual
OTR PRICE: £24,300
Max Power: 133 bhp @ 4,000rpm
Max Torque: 330 Nm @2,000-2500 rpm
Max speed: 119 mph
Acceleration: 0-62 mph in 10.4 seconds
Claimed MPG: (combined) 56.5
C02 emissions: (g/km) 118