The Kia Carens is the fourth Kia car I've driven and in all honesty I've become a bit of a fan.
We had the Carens on review for a week, which coincided with my first week off work and meant we could get out and about a bit more than usual. We took advantage of it to head off to the beach; go to Yorkshire for the weekend; do our normal around town driving; and enjoy a couple of long drives in the countryside.
I'm not a driving expert, so there'll be no mention of torque or coupled torsion (sounds painful), just pretty simple terms about what we thought of it as a family car.
When it was delivered to the driveway, I was a surprised (and a bit excited it has to be said) to see it was a 7-seater. As a family of 3, we don't need that many seats but visions of day-trips with a car full of teenagers suddenly became a
The Carens has 7 permanent seats with two rear seats that are easily (with the pull of a strap) lowered to increase the boot size. With the two rear seats up, the boot size is pretty small, but big enough for a day out or general everyday driving. We also used it as a 6-seater with just one of the rear seats down, which gave us plenty of boot room.
Using all of the seats, it comfortably accommodated 7 people, plus a large picnic cool box, a beach chair, bags and the normal paraphenalia you need for a day at the beach.
What we liked
We liked the spacious interior with generous leg room, plenty of head room and comfortable, adjustable seats. My girls were also impressed that the first two rows of seats could be reclined to an almost horizontal position - handy for long drives when the kids are tired no doubt.
We liked the versatility of the seating and boot space. I was impressed with the rain-sensor front wipers, the reversing sensor (handy with a larger car) and the automatic setting available for the headlights. There were also underfloor storage boxes for essential items (first aid kit, maps, umbrellas) and a novel little 'conversation' mirror above the rear view mirror which gave a clear view of the back two rows of seats - ideal for keeping an eye on small children.
The Teenager loved the USB ports and the multi-speaker system (ideal for playing Foo Fighters LOUD!) and Tall Daughter loved the amount of space - even with all seats occupied there was plenty of room for everyone, nobody felt 'squished'.
I'm not the most confident driver, but I found the Kia Carens very easy and enjoyable to drive, and it really came into its own on the motorway - smooth with a very responsive engine.
This was also my first experience of driving a diesel car, and I was pleasantly surprised at how quiet it was. It was also very economical on fuel - at the end of a week of urban and motorway driving it had done an impressive 53mpg.
What we didn't like
My own really small quibble is that the speedometer wasn't a digital display, which I have in my own car, but I suppose it's just what you get used to.
Of course, the other thing we didn't like is that we only got to keep the Carens for a week. Sad times.