Kia Carens review 2020

For a small MPV, the Carens proves very practical – but it is behind the curve in some areas.

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Out of 5


  • Very spacious and practical for its relatively small size
  • Good levels of kit across the range
  • Economical diesel engines


  • Some rivals are better to drive
  • Third row of seats only really for children
  • Feels dated in areas
Model review

The Kia Carens is an MPV which began production in 1999. There’s nothing major to report about the first generation, although it did receive a facelift in 2002.  


The second generation made its public debut at the 2006 Los Angeles International Auto Show, with the car launching that same year. A concept version, named the Multi-S, was shown beforehand at the 2005 Frankfurt Motor Show.  


Fun fact: in the US, the Carens is called the Rondo – after the musical term – and in Australia, it’s called the Rondo7.  


The third, current generation model made its debut at the 2012 Paris Motor Show, before going into production in 2013. 

Current model

As mentioned before, the latest, third generation of the Kia Carens began production in 2013. However, the model did receive an update in 2016 – it got a redesigned facia, wheels and lights. The recognisable ‘Tiger Nose’ grille was also enlarged.  


Get the Carens out on the road and buyers will find an MPV which, while not setting any benchmarks in terms of the driving experience, is very comfortable. In addition, wind noise and tyre roar are kept to a minimum. That being said, the car doesn’t offer much confidence when it comes to steering – there isn’t much feedback – and there’s presence of problematic body lean, where a Ford S-Max dominates 


In 2019, Kia stopped production of the Carens, making the used market the only place to turn to for someone wanting to purchase one.  

Value for money

Due to the Carens no longer being on sale new, you need to take a look at the used market. Cheapest examples of the first-generation model can be had for as little as £450 – an obvious bargain. Lowest prices for second generation Carens aren’t much more either.  


Those wanting a third generation one should expect to pay upwards of £4,000 – not that bad by any means. 

Looks and image

Looks are never really an MPV’s forte, but the Carens does an acceptable job in this department. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, we think it doesn’t look amazing, nor ugly – somewhere in the middle. The model won’t find itself on any bedroom wall posters, but also isn’t likely to offend anyone. Most MPV buyers will be satisfied with the car’s design.  

Space and practicality

Now, while good looks aren’t a main focus of the Carens, space and practicality are two things that are. And although it isn’t the largest MPV – far from it – the model, for the most part, is very spacious. Passengers in both the front and middle row, short or tall, should have no problem getting comfortable thanks to an abundance of headroom and legroom. It is worth noting that the rearmost, third row is more suited for children, as there isn’t a lot of room back there. 


Boot space is very small – with all three rows in place – at 100 litres, but that figure rises to a hefty 492 litres with the rear-most row folded flat. With practicality like this, thCarens should serve as a great family holiday machine.  



Before going off sale, the Carens was offered with petrol and diesel engines such as a 1.6-litre petrol unit, as well as two 1.7-litre diesel powerplants developing either 114bhp or 139bhp. While the 1.6-litre will be adequate around town, it’s the 1.7-litre options which will serve buyers best as they offer the best blend of performance and economy – they just suit the Carens better.  

Running costs

Running costs is another area where the Carens proves pretty great. Looking at the petrol first, it claims to return around 45.6mpg and emit 143g/km of CO2 emissions – not terrible, nor great. The 139bhp diesel is a better bet – it’s said to return around 58.9mpg and emit 127g/km of CO2 (with the automatic transmission).  


The best choice for the cheapest running costs, however, is the lower powered, 114bhp diesel. The engine is said to achieve around 62.8mpg and emit just 109g/km of CO2. 

Things to look out for

Buyers needn’t worry massively about the reliability of the Carens. Both Kia, as a brand, and the model itself have a pretty good reputation – the former of which can be proven via driver satisfaction surveys where the manufacturer placed relatively high. Just look out for any potential problems, as you should do with any vehicle, but the Carens should prove a reliable family workhorse. 



The MPV segment isn’t quite as booming as it once was, what with the rise of SUVs and all. That being said, the Carens still faces its fair share of rivals – some properly good ones too – such as the Ford C-Max, Citroen Grand C4 Picasso and Renault Grand Scenic. The Kia Carens does make a good case for itself though. Buyers looking in the MPV class should definitely take a good look at it. 



Most of the Carens models on the used market have gone through most of their depreciation already, meaning buyers needn’t worry there. Nearly new models, on the other hand, go for around £17,000 (2019 examples), so still have some way to go. This doesn’t make them a bad buy, but it’s just something to take into account. In fact, the Carens, price wise, is a pretty great buy no matter the model year. 

Trims explained

Looking at trims – on the used market – offered after the 2016 update, the Carens can be had in five levels – 1, 2, 3, 4 and SR7.


Some kit buyers can expect to get with their 1 include Bluetooth with voice recognition and music streaming, cruise control with speed limiter, a trip computer, six-speaker sound system and gear shift indicator.

Available from around £12,000.


Up next is the 2 trim, which can be had with equipment such as a heated rear window, cooling glovebox, rain sensing front wipers, dual-zone automatic air conditioning and a leather trimmed steering wheel.

Prices starting at around £7,000.


Next is the 3 trim. Opting for an example in this trim treats the Carens to kit like heated front seats, privacy glass for the rear windows and tailgate, leather upholstery and a heated steering wheel.

Available from circa £11,500.


Towards the top end, we have the 4 trim. It can be had with equipment such as all-round electric windows, steering wheel mounted controls, leather and chrome trimmed gearshift, as well as a seven-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation.

Prices starting at around £8,000.


By opting for this trim level, buyers can expect to get kit like centre console cupholders, driver’s seat height adjuster, tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustment and MP3 disc compatibility.

Available from circa £10,000.


  1. The Kia Carens is a small MPV
  2. It began production in 1999, with its latest third generation produced from 2013
  3. The model received some minor updates in 2016
  4. Kia no longer produce the model, as of 2019
  5. Looks-wise, the car isn’t particularly beautiful nor horrible
  6. Examples can be had for as little as £450 on the used market
  7. It’s very spacious inside, although the rear-most row is only really suitable for children
  8. The boot, with the third row folded flat, offers 492 litres of space
  9. The diesel options, as opposed to the petrol choice, suit the Carens better and offer better fuel economy
  10. Good levels of kit were offered throughout the range

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