Review: MY25 Kia Carnival GT-Line banner

Review: MY25 Kia Carnival GT-Line

Posted in Vehicle Reviews

Review: MY25 Kia Carnival GT-Line

The Kia Carnival requires no introduction, consistently dominating the sales charts as Australia's favourite people mover.

With chic styling, a flurry of new features, and a revamped lineup, the latest facelift is bound to ensure the Carnival maintains its supremacy over its rivals.

We recently spent the weekend with the all-new, top-of-the-range GT-Line trim to experience how it navigates its ideal habitat - the suburbs of Brisbane. Here are our thoughts.

Initial Impressions

Kia has done away with the term "People Mover" for what it believes is a more fitting representation - a Grand Utility Vehicle - and there's no denying the facelift Carnival, especially in the GT-Line, makes a grand first impression. 

Borrowed from its battery-powered EV9 sibling, the Carnival's revised, geometrically-inspired exterior styling looks incredible. Kia has transformed the stereotypically frumpy people mover into a ride that could even be considered sexy (though they've already reached this point a generation or two ago). The retooled head and tail light arrangements, fresh GT-Line wheel designs, and overall boxier styling form a package that exhibits elegance and practicality with a futuristic flair.

Stepping inside, you're greeted with an exceptionally spacious interior with loads of great storage options on hand. The gorgeous panoramic display console curves itself from the far right of the steering wheel along the dash to the far edge of the centre dash offering a seamless look for the two main screens - the centre infotainment screen and digital driver's display. 

Interior colours are muted yet the attention to detail in the patterns that define each element - and the refined touch of the premium seats of the GT-Line - ensure that the cabin offers a sense of luxury. Chrome-like garnishings blend well with the dark interior highlighting key features such as the heating and ventilation controls for the front-row seats.

Interior Indulgences

The driver is absolutely spoilt in the GT-Line with 12-way power seat adjustment with memory settings as well as heating and ventilation options. The centre console features a large cubby for all your essentials, with a wireless charging station to keep your smartphone powered on the go. This goes hand-in-hand with the wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto keeping you connected without interruption. The GT-Line also conveniences the driver with a crisp Head Up Display, digital rearview mirror and paddle shifters.

The Carnival's second and third rows are where it shines as a people mover. The power sliding doors, operated remotely via the key fob, make entry and exit convenient. The second row has oodles of legroom, and all three seats can be adjusted independently. This makes accessing the third row easy. Both passenger rows in the Carnival feature USB-C outlets, speakers, air vents and cupholders, while the GT-Line model also comes with sunshades for the windows in the second and third rows. 

The best seats in the Carnival would have to be the second-row outboard seats. Not only are you spoilt with captain's chairs with multiple adjustment options and cozy seat heating, but the second row can also independently control its climate settings with a dedicated temperature control panel inset into the ceiling. The backrest of the middle seat also flips down in one motion to present a handy centre table and an extra set of cupholders.

We are really impressed with the design of the third-row seats and how easily they seamlessly stow away into the floor. The resulting open space is free from bulky and uneven floor panels, unlike some other three-row cars, providing excellent flexibility for cargo. Even with the third-row seats in use, the deep, vertical space created in the floor is still quite impressive in terms of volume. Furthermore, the deep opening in the floor provides a secure space for your groceries to sit without moving around.

Tech & Luxury

While the GT-Line's booming 12-speaker Bose premium sound system will get the whole family moving, it's the Centerpoint Surround Technology that elevates the system to an immersive listening experience. Where most music is typically recorded in stereo sound, with two channels for left and right - Centerpoint Surround Technology converts your music into multiple channels, providing a fully immersive surround sound experience. You also have the luxury of opening up your listening party to the world outside and bringing in those sunny Queensland days with the GT-Line's dual sunroofs. 

If you prefer to use the native infotainment system, the Carnival has you covered above and beyond. The sat-nav system is consistent and receives ongoing over-the-air updates, while you can use the AI Voice Commands with Natural Voice Recognition to stay in complete control. You don't even need to take your hands off the steering wheel with voice command, audio and Bluetooth controls mounted directly on the steering wheel. On top of this, Kia Connect Telematics gives you all the eCall, remote control and vehicle status monitoring capabilities that you need straight from your smartphone.

Just about every opening on the Carnival GT-Line can be powered electronically and, better yet, operated remotely via the smart key. Open both sliding doors, open/close the rear tailgate, start the engine, and even remotely drive the Carnival itself out of a tight parking spot from the convenience of your high-tech smart key. If you haven't experienced the Remote Smart Park Assist, we encourage you to drop into a Motorama Kia showroom and ask to see it in action - it's a seriously impressive piece of technology.

Safety First

It's no surprise that a car designed to transport multiple humans sports plenty of driver and passenger safety tech. It's also no surprise that Australia's best-selling people mover is packed with an absolute motza of active and passive safety features. For your parking needs, you get sensors for every angle complete with a handy dash display, a crisp rearview camera, and even a 360-degree camera display (Sport+ trim and above). Your blindspots are covered by the blindspot view monitor that displays the view from the side camera on your instrument cluster when indicating left or right. If that's not enough, the Blind Spot Collision Avoidance Assist will help you avoid any nasty merging incidents. The Autonomous Emergency Braking detects cars, pedestrians, cyclists and potential incidents when turning at a junction. In the event of a collision, several airbags give great protection all around including curtain SRS airbags present in all three rows. 

If you need to transport a horde of young children, the Carnival is the ideal vehicle for you. Standard across the range are five sets of both Top Tether and ISOFIX child restraint anchorage points meaning your your whole flock of little ones is safe and secure in any seat. 

The best part of these safety systems though is that the key features come standard across the Carnival range. The MY25 Carnival also retains its five-star ANCAP safety rating so you know it holds up to the highest of regulatory standards. 

Power Mover

You're spoilt for choice with engine options in the MY25 Carnival with both petrol and diesel drivetrains available as well as a brand-new hybrid option. The model we drove was the diesel-powered turbocharged 2.2 litre, four-cylinder pushing out 148kW of power that trundles along with combined fuel consumption at a super impressive 6.5 litres per 100 kilometres. The petrol model offered is a 3.5 litre, V6 pushing out a hefty 216kW of power so it definitely boogies. Despite the obvious consumption increase over the diesel drivetrain, the petrol still comes in at a combined figure of 9.6 litres per 100 kilometres. Both petrol and diesel models feature a smooth eight-speed automatic (Sports-matic as Kia calls it) transmission that shifts so effortlessly, you'll barely notice it.

We found the diesel engine to be a great highway traveller with how effortlessly it sails along at a low RPM. The deep but muted rumble of the engine instils a subtle confidence in the power residing underneath, ready to haul a full load of passengers and cargo without a worry.

Watch this space for an update on the hybrid powertrain. As of this article's writing, we have yet to see the new hybrid in our showrooms, however, we expect similar results as the Kia Sportage Hybrid.


With five trim levels and two drivetrains available (hybrid to come), there's a facelifted Carnival to suit most budgets. The new model lineup consists of the S, Sport, Sport+, GT-Line Lite, and the GT-Line.

The diesel-powered GT-Line that we tested is the priciest of the bunch, available from Motorama Kia for $77,390 drive away. The most affordable trim is the petrol-powered S model which comes in at a comfortable $54,540 drive away.

The price difference between the drivetrains of the same trim is about $2,200 more for diesel power over petrol power, while the biggest leaps in price occur on the lower end with an average of about a $6,200 difference between the bottom three variants. 

The most affordable price leap is between the Sport+ and the GT-Line Lite at just $3,900, while the increase to the top of the range is only another $4,350. In general, Kia has made it pretty simple to find the right Carnival for your budget as once you decide on a drivetrain, there are almost identical price leaps between each step up the range.


Overall, our time living with, and driving the new Carnival was an exceptional experience underscored by supreme comfort and satisfying convenience. The years of technology upgrades and design innovations over the previous generations of Carnival have culminated in an incredibly well-thought-out car that hits the mark for which it was designed. After driving the latest Carnival, it's no surprise that it has been consistently named Australia's most popular people mover. The base model allows those who need eight seats an affordable entry to the market of space, safety and convenience. Meanwhile, at the top of the range, you're absolutely spoiled with comfort and technology that completes a package that is a joy to ride in no matter which of the three rows you're sitting in.

If you've got a growing family, or just looking for a car with convenience and the space to match, speak to the team at Motorama Kia today and organise a test drive of the new Kia Carnival. 

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