Kia Carens: Seven Up!

  • Our long-term Carens is brimmed with passengers
  • Third row seats clearly best for children, not adults
  • Kia left positive impressions overall as a family car

Okay, confession time – I like people carriers and I likes ‘em big.

They may not have the best of images, many considering them vans with windows or automotive fertility symbols, but due to the amount of clutter I regularly transport around with me, a full-sized MPV to me is a thing of joy.

What’s clear over recent years is that the market doesn’t agree, meaning a variety of car brands - Kia included - dropped their larger seven-seaters from their range. For Kia, this meant the latest Carens replaced not only the model before it but also the bigger Sedona.

So as a people mover, is the latest Carens up to the job? Taking five adult passengers and one near adult-sized teen for a drive around Lincolnshire gave me the opportunity to find out.

Becky Asplin: ambulance driver and owns a Vauxhall Zafira and a classic Volkswagen Beetle

“I've never been in a Kia, but I found the Carens enjoyable. Only being 5ft 3, I could be classed as a small teenager, but I found the rear seats extremely uncomfortable. I felt every bump back there.

“The second row seats were much better with lots more room, although I found the middle seat itself was uncomfortable as I was sat on the seatbelt buckle.

“Not being as agile as I’d like, I found getting out of the rear seats was extremely difficult, and I could see how that middle seatbelt from the roof could cause problems with children rushing to get out.

“I found the front seat was the best even though my feet didn't touch the floor! A large windscreen, lots of gadgets and the price isn’t bad either. I’d consider buying one.”

Mike Gallimore: cover teacher, Renault Kangoo driver and nurturer of a late 1980s Ford Orion

“I enjoyed travelling in the Carens although the third row of seats are not ideally suited for taller people. Legroom was tight and headroom was limited due to the shape of the roofline.

“My favourite seat was the middle seat in the second row – being taller meant the roof is much higher and legroom was fine.

“The ride quality was mostly good, but on poor quality roads in row three was a bit harsh. It was quiet inside, even at higher speeds, without having to speak louder than normal.

“Overall, a really good practical people mover.”

Donna Maltby: new mum and looking for a car

“I would be very reluctant to use the car as a seven-seater. The two rearmost seats were not very comfortable to sit in even for a short journey. Getting out of the back isn't the easiest thing to do either, despite the middle seats sliding forwards.

“Impressively, I have never enjoyed being in a middle seat of a car so much! Very supportive with plenty of leg room. Trays on the front seatbacks would be useful on longer journeys too.

“After moving from the very back of the car, it was a very enjoyable ride, very smooth. Be warned: if you want anyone over 5ft to use the back seats, this isn't the car for you!”

Rob Smith: civil servant and writer, looking for a car

“I've never been a fan of sardines but after sitting in the third row with minimal leg and head room when we set off, I now feel a huge amount of empathy for them.

“Moving in to second row of seats, there was a considerably more space and the drive proved to be a comfortable one.

“The front passenger seat is where the magic happens though. A fantastic amount of leg room whilst also giving those behind you sufficient room to sit comfortably.

“Overall; this would make a fantastic family car. As long as they like to travel light!”

Samantha Turner: teacher and current generation Kia Ceed SW driver

“MPV or not MPV? The Carens has the same versatility as my old Zafira, with the ‘occasional use’ flip up seats in the 'back back'. With them down, it’s got a large boot space for an estate, excellent for a family of four or five plus dog or luggage.

“A Ceed on steroids best describes the looks, but it’s not aggressive-looking.

“Space, ride quality and accessibility reduces the further back you go, but as long as the age and size of the passenger is also reduced then it should be fine. Agile passengers will grunt far less when clambering in and out too.

“Seven-up is fine but not for long. The only issue was the seat belts, specifically the middle one, which is obstructive when left in, although it can be retracted and the middle seat used as a table.

“Overall a good soccer mum car!”

Odin Turner: school pupil and regular passenger in a Kia Ceed SW and Citroen Grand C4 Picasso

“I think the back two seats were quite good but were made for smaller kids: my head touched the roof and bumpy roads made it even worse!

“Those middle seats were a bit cramped together and I felt it was more comfortable on the right hand side for some reason.

“The Carens was very comfortable at the front, with a good seating position.”

Total mileage: 4,723 miles 

Average mpg: 48.2mpg