Kia Carens: A fond farewell

  • Family-friendly Kia Carens departs the long-term fleet
  • Simplicity and ease of use win it many fans
  • Diesel engine offers decent economy

Few, if any, of you reading this will have met my brother, consequently when I say he reminds me of the Kia Ceed, indifference will give way to bafflement. You may even question what my coffee’s been laced with.

Bear with me, for there’s logic in my apparent mental meltdown.

You see, Duncan is a leaner, lither, better looking (okay, that’s just in there to reel in compliments) version of me. You can see we’re closely-related, it’s just that one’s pudgier and less easy on the eye. And so it is with Kia’s Ceed and Carens. Like them, visual similarities abound, except one’s, well, more rotund.

Apt then that I should have stewardship of the cuddlier Carens, now late of the Parkers long-term parish after six months service.

Spoiler alert: if you’re one of those who can’t wait until the highlights show for the result, then look away now... I’d urge anyone considering a family-friendly car to take a close look at one.

Okay, you can read again now.

That autumnal day when I first clapped eyes on the Carens’ interior I can’t pretend my whelm wasn’t underdone. Having sampled Citroen’s latest C4 Picasso just days earlier, wowed by its clever flippy-uppy seats and starship Enterprise acreage of LCD screenery, the Kia looked more than a little ordinary.

Therein lies its appeal – simplicity. The sheer ease of pressing the right button with a stressed-out stabbing finger is something that occurs all too frequently amidst an in-car domestic crisis with bickering kids.

Sure, there’s elegance in the Picasso’s dashboard, but have you really the patience to bleep your way through touchscreen menus to reduce in-car heat while keeping your eyes focused, barrelling along a bendy B-road? I’d be pulling over to gnaw the steering wheel. The Kia’s unambiguous switchgear restores calm, brain again functioning on more important things. Like responding to the query of whether cats suffer migraines.

Such Kalashnikoved questioning was soon forgotten by opening up the massive sunroof. Not only does it provide a tiny degree of “ooh we’re in a cabriolet, kids,” without being too blustery, it also acts as a great vantage point should you wish to look at something in the distance. Should such a situation ever occur.

I did lament the Carens’ lack of clever ‘fold ‘n’ slide’ middle row of seats, à la Citroen, but only when accessing the third row myself, where I resembled the world’s worst Harry Houdini impersonator. The kids could get in fine and didn’t mind row two simply folded flat into the floor, leaving them a carpeted pommel to vault over.

Probably for the best too as that back row’s not much use to anyone over 5ft 8in. Think of the seats as the sort you’re subjected to at primary school parents evenings rather than plush, tiered cinema sofas. At least sat there you can hear what your knees sound like as you mimic the aircraft brace position.

Nudging 8,000 miles on the odometer, the Carens’ easiness to drive and soft ride made it a comforting companion on those long drives back north from Heathrow. Only when you pushed on with some enthusiasm did the Kia let the side down. Understeer in the wet was akin to trolley-scooting around Tesco and ploughing into a wall of Frazzles and Wotsits, instead of negotiating around to jams and preserves. Keep speeds sensible and it was viceless though.

Saying that the Kia does nothing badly sounds like I’m ladening it with praise of the damned and faint variety, but it’s an easy car to live with for larger families, or for those with the occasional need to ferry extra adults around. It’s also the first Carens you won’t need to make up an excuse in order to justify its place on your driveway.

Easy car equals easier life. If you’ve got kids you’ll know what I mean. 

Total mileage: 7,782 miles 

Average mpg: 48.2mpg