Should I buy a Kia Sorento or Kia Carnival?

One customer's journey from a BMW and a Renault to a Kia Sorento or Carnival - in the space of just five years.

Hi John,

Bit of a riddle, really: I have a 2013 Renault Megane GT220 premium and a 2011 BMW X5 xDrive30d, both owned outright. I want to get rid of both and get a new 7-seater, which I have narrowed down to Nissan X-TRAIL ST-L or Kia Sorento SLi diesel. If i can get a good discount on the Sorento then I'll go that way, otherwise the X-TRAIL wins purely on value.

Thanks, Poppy

ABOVE: Seven-seat Kia Sorento (left) and eight-seat Kia Carnival (right)

Hello Poppy,

I’d suggest that the X-TRAIL wins on price alone, and the Sorento wins on value (much better vehicle per dollar spent). Sorento discounts really well - so there is hope! Read my Kia Sorento review >>

If you are wanting seven seats, then the X-TRAIL is a bit flaky because you cannot get all-wheel-drive with seven seats in X-TRAIL, and I’m not the hugest fan of the X-TRAIL’s CVT-style transmission. The Sorento’s conventional auto is better, and you also get seven years’ warranty with Sorento: a major consumer advantage.

If five seats are OK, look at Kia Sportage or, in a pinch, the Renault Koleos. (Renault and Nissan are joined at the hip in a corporate and engineering sense - the parent company is called the Renault-Nissan Alliance - and therefore Koleos is essentially an X-TRAIL at a lower price, and with two more years’ warranty, and better styling.)

Sincerely,
John Cadogan

Hi John,

Thanks for your response to my car predicament - I don't know why but I never expect a real human to answer online enquiries these days, let alone the actual person in the videos! I spoke to Alec from your brokerage (enquire here >>) on Friday and I will definitely go back to him once I've made my decision.

I went back to Kia on the weekend to check out the Sorento and discuss dollars with the dealer. Unfortunately while he was dithering around trying to rip me off. I realised the only proper access to the third row is right where my toddler's car seat would be positioned - second row on the passenger side. Who designs these supposedly family-friendly cars? My BMW X5 has access on both sides and I stupidly assumed most SUVs would be the same. Now I'm second-guessing my vehicle choice as I don't fancy carrying my 15kg toddler onto the road and wrangling him into the seat while next to traffic twice a day every day. The third row only gets a workout on weekends, so moving the big kids around to hop in the driver's side for the occasional trip works much better.

My question is: Are there any good 7-seater SUVs with access to the third row on both sides? Or even a removable middle seat? Trying to avoid people movers as we park on the street at home and the extra height saves my back when wrangling the aforementioned toddler into the car from the kerb.

Thanks, Poppy

See my report: Which seven-seater SUV is best? >>

Kia Carnival loadspace is very versatile and even offers decent cargo capacity with all eight seats in use

Kia Carnival loadspace is very versatile and even offers decent cargo capacity with all eight seats in use

Third row seating access in Carnival is superior to that in any seven-seat SUV - including Sorento

Third row seating access in Carnival is superior to that in any seven-seat SUV - including Sorento

Hello Poppy,

Bottom line - ‘no-BS’ bottom line - is that you need a people mover. They’re better at moving people. A Kia Carnival has vastly superior in-cabin ergonomics. Massive sliding doors both sides (automated - just press a button). It’s an eight-seater, or seven if you remove the centre second-row seat. Four child anchorage points. With that centre seat removed, you can walk through to the third row. Seven-seat SUVs are a significant compromise from an accommodation perspective. 

From memory that delivers four child anchorage points (three, I think) with ISOFIX).

Critically, the Carnival has full-length head-protecting curtain airbags for side-impact protection. (Most SUVs have curtains only for rows one and two.)

I think you’ll find the hip height of Sorento and Carnival to be similar, from a back-preservation point of view. Same price as Sorento (ish), too - actually there are generally really solid discounts on both Sorento and Carnival.

Carnival sounds like a much better option for you. (Awesome vehicle. Really.) More here: Kia Carnival Review >>

Sincerely,
JC

Thanks John.

Oh my poor broken ego. I'll go and drive the Carnival in all it's beige-upholstered goodness. I'm really not sure about driving a van around all week, but if it's that good I'll at least consider it. At a minimum it will be excellent for trips to ikea...

Alternatively I might sit out a few months and see what happens with the CX9 as I can see it has third row access from both sides and is available with a non-beige interior.

Thanks again for your honest advice!

Poppy


Poppy,

For what it’s worth, I enjoyed driving it. Really. I mean, I wasn’t all broken up and in need of therapy when I gave it back (that was the WRX STI…) but I did enjoy it.

They have a whole range of new therapies for broken egos. Take two Christian Louboutin heels and a Gucci handbag, and I’m sure your ego will be well on the road to walking again.

JC

MORE REPORTS