It was never under doubt that Kia was working on a 7-seat Seltos. But the Carens is nothing like the Seltos. The style is unique. The interiors are also a sea change, and it's a considerable re-engineering. There are no longer overhangs and the wheelbase is extended to make the Carens unique. The driving dynamics are different, but let's first discuss how it looks.
The Carens is a pretty distinctive-looking car. It features sleek headlamps, no Tiger nose grille like any other Kia. It nearly appears like an EV with the solid front and the grille is lower in the bumper. There's also plenty of chrome.
It looks like an SUV with an upright bonnet and not sloping forward. The car has black cladding all around and top rails. 'SUV' designs have all of these features. In profile, it's a simple design with few cuts and creases. Not only that, but its windowpane, door handles, and even inlay get chrome. There are 16-inch wheels that seem under-tired. The person inside enjoyed the fantastic ride. Compared to the Tata Safari and Mahindra XUV700, its wheelbase is 20 mm longer.
This car looks incredibly slick and stylish, including the taillamps. More chrome in the rear bumper is not a surprise. There are many SUVs/MPV out there, yet the Carens stand out among them.
The Carens' interior is stunning. The dashboard is beautifully designed, with the touch-screen flush with the dash and everything placed well. The digital instrument cluster is similar to Creta's, but Kia's colors and interface are unique. The infotainment screen is 10.25 inches like the Seltos.
The Carens have excellent air purifiers, ventilated seats, 8 Bose speakers, and connected car features. It does not have wireless CarPlay or Android Auto; thus, you must use cables and mounted second and third-row AC vents on the roof; therefore, there's no panoramic sunroof.
The six-seater has captain chairs in the middle row, while a seven-seater has a bench. The six-seater is only available on the top variant and the second row offers considerable knee and headspace. The second row is a pleasure to sit in. The air purifier is behind the driver's seat, reducing knee space. If you move the second row forward to create room for the third row, you'll bang your knees against it. They should function well since they direct cool air to you; however, they are flimsy and shake the roof liner when adjusted.
It's simple to go into the third row. In the second row, the captain's seat folds forward, revealing a huge door opening when pressed the button. The back is decent. With the second row slid away from the air purifier, you had an inch of knee space on the third seat. Also, unlike some other 7-seaters, your knees aren't pointed skyward. The third row has a USB C-type port and cupholders making it a pleasant place.
Kia has Six basic airbags that come standard on all models, which is a great feature. TPMS, ESC, and hill descent control are just a few of the technological safety features available.
The Carens use the Seltos' drivetrains. Three engines are available: 1.5 nat-asp petrol, 1.4 turbo petrol, and 1.5 diesel. While the nat-asp lacks an automatic option, the turbo and diesel do, providing consumers a vast variety of options.
The 1.4-turbo is the engine you have if you want a speedy Carens performance. It produces 138bhp and 242Nm, enabling the car to accelerate quickly while larger and heavier than the Seltos. In general, the NVH levels of the Carens are exceptional, blocking out a significant amount of road and tire noise as well as the engine sounds and vibrations. The turbo-petrol has the best performance of the three, and choose if you want to do much driving alone. The DCT keeps you in the proper gear, and no need to use the paddles. They operate as advertised — Eco slows down the car for the economy. In Normal mode, the performance is decent, although Sport mode offers you a bit more urgency.
Compared to turbo petrol, diesel has 113bhp and 250Nm less power. It also lacks a DCT, instead opting for a more traditional automatic, which dulls the drivetrain's responsiveness. In the current state of the economy and the high cost of petrol, an economical option like diesel may be highly appealing to consumers.
Ride and handling
Kia has designed the Carens for comfort, which becomes obvious as soon as you get in. A few things add to the comfort. A large wheelbase and smaller 16-inch wheels with high-profile tires help this car ride smoothly. It handles minor bumps well and larger potholes with ease. It doesn't completely smooth out your rear, but it's never uncomfortable or bothersome. A normal Indian road bothers it not at all. At high speeds, it isn't floaty or bouncy. It remains in place and enables you to travel at highway speeds without feeling uncomfortable.
However, the handling was never going to be good. The steering enables you to place the car properly but lacks a feel. Even though it has a lot of body roll, this car does not like pushing hard around bends. The Carens isn't a car to push hard. You can always sense its size and design for comfort, and it shines when driven that way.
The Kia Carens is interesting. Instead of focusing on vital aspects like comfort and utility, it doesn't strive too hard to be an SUV. It excels in several areas, including ride, interior ergonomics, third-row access, and even boot room. Its positioning is crucial to its success. Will it be above or below the Seltos? It'll be more affordable than the Hyundai Alcazar. a 360-degree camera, a panoramic sunroof, and a middle-row console are all missing, but keeping the smaller 1.5-liter petrol engine. That might place it in a unique position, undercutting all these 7-seater SUVs while being a stylish, practical family car.