Kia Carens 4500km Long Term Review: Gets Better With Time
Published On Jun 08, 2022 By Nabeel for Kia Carens
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My first month with the Kia Carens as a long termer was a fun one. With multiple inter-city journeys and people-hauling, the space and practicality of the MPV shined. Not to mention the impressive fuel efficiency of the diesel-automatic powertrain. And now that I have spent another month with it, commuting to the office and ambling around town roads, it has only gotten better. Yes, there have been some hiccups along the way, but the Carens still remains one of the most practical everyday cars that you can currently get in under 20 lakh. Here are the real-world pros and cons list of living with the Kia Carens, things that matter in day-to-day living. If you want to read my first impressions, check out the story here.
Let's start with the areas where the Carens make your everyday life easier.
1. Manageable size
Larger cars can become cumbersome to drive in the crowded part of most cities and more often than not, it's down to the visibility outside the cabin. The Carens, despite being a fairly big car, feels manageable in traffic with its great all-around visibility from the driver's seat. Large windscreen and low window line keep the driver confident of the front corners and rear visibility is unobstructed too. What also helps are the front and rear sensors that add an additional layer of confidence to make those tight turns. This makes the Carens an easy car to get use for both experienced and new drivers.
2. Parking delight
While rear parking cameras have now become almost standard fitment in cars, they can be tricky to use with poor resolution and fisheye displays. Not the Carens though. It has one of the best cameras in this regard. The display sharpness is just right, bending guidelines are accurate, and the best part - an almost lag-free feed that lets you get really close to the object at the back. This has helped me get into and out of very tight parking situations. And I would prefer this quality of feed over a 360-degree camera any day.
3. 3rd-row ingress-egress
The Carens is a 6-seater MPV which means every time you want to seat five, someone has to volunteer to hop in the 3rd-row. This did lead to some friendly banter in the initial days, but not anymore. The 3rd-row seats in the Carens allow for easy access with the one-touch tumble seats. This also helps while getting out of the 3rd-row. And with the relatively comfortable and spacious seats, not to mention the ample features like charging options and AC vents, friends and family no longer mind
for the 3rd-row seats.
4. Ample ground clearance
One thing that I do understand about the current SUV craze in the Indian market is the practical ground clearance. The Carens, despite being an MPV, has the ground clearance of an SUV. This lets you take the beaten path or venture off the road with confidence that the belly will remain scratch-free. This remains true even when it is loaded with friends. This confidence combined with the impressive practicality in the cabin makes the Carens much better than other front-wheel-drive SUVs in my books.
5. Powerful headlamps
LED headlamps can be a hit or a miss in cars. We have in the past struggled with the LED headlamps of cars like Hyundai Creta, but the ones on the Carens are pretty good. They manage to illuminate the road well and for a long distance as well. You hardly feel the need to switch to high-beam even on highway cruising. Achieving this without the use of projector lenses is commendable.
All of the above aspects come into play every day with the Carens and they help make your life easier. These elements, if not done right, can become a pain point on a daily basis. But, like all cars, the Carens too has its set of everyday niggles that one has to live with. Here are the everyday cons of the Kia Carens.
1. 2nd and 3rd-row ride
Like with most 3-row cars, the Carens too gets a slightly stiff riding 2nd row. This leads to some side-to-side movement on bad roads and bumps, which can become unpleasant for the parents or grandparents. And while the first row remains comfortable, the passengers in the back can get tossed around. If you are buying or driving a 3-row car for the first time, do keep this in mind while ferrying folks around.
2. Sensor alerts
TPMS is a godsend on long road trips. However, the one on Carens is a bit finicky. The warning screen comes on if the pressure falls even slightly. Recommended for the front tyres is 33psi and the warning comes on even on 31psi. That would still be acceptable but while the two front wheels are on equal pressures, only one of them gets the warning. And if you are as keen on keeping your vehicle clean and healthy as me, this does become annoying. A simple software tune should be able to fix this.
Another one that raises my anxiety, and this one is not particular to the Carens but most cars with front parking sensors, is them firing in stop-go traffic. As soon as you stop at a traffic signal and the bikers start to crowd around, the sensors activate. While they are just doing their job, it makes you look around the car to see how close the bikers are getting and also puts the passengers on alert. And though you can switch them off, they come on once you start going again.
3. Hesitation post shifts
We first noticed this issue with the Alcazar (same platform and powertrain) that the diesel-automatic powertrain at times stutters post shifts when the throttle input is low. While this issue is noticeably less prominent in the Carens, it does creep in from time to time, especially when you have four or more passengers on board. There is a slight hesitation in power delivery at low rpm when the vehicle upshifts. It is small enough to not be noticed by the occupants but the driver will surely notice.
4. Brake feel
I don’t usually complain about the brake feel in city-friendly family cars because I understand that most drivers, need to feel safe and nothing more. But the feel from Caren’s padel is a bit vague. The stopping distance of 40.02m from 100kmph and 24.95m from 80kmph is par for the course, however, what I would have liked better is the brake feel to be better. While slowing down for road jumping pedestrians and daredevil two-wheelers, you are left wanting more bite. The brake could have felt sharper which would have given me a bit more confidence in emergency braking situations.
5. Road warnings
The Carens has in-built navigation and Kia has tuned it to give warning messages when you are in a school zone, no-overtaking zone, or going the wrong side. This can be a useful feature to warn you when you are in a designated zone. However, with GPS jumping around in some parts of town and highways, this becomes counterproductive. While you can switch off a number of these warnings, the wrong way and no-overtaking zone remain on. And it comes up even on highways! Whenever the GPS thinks you are going the wrong way, (even when you are on the correct side of a properly divided 4-lane road) it announces “Wrong way detected, please change driving direction.” And this can get really annoying because it comes up multiple times and also on the MID. Same case with the No Overtaking Zone as well. I wish there was a way to turn these off. And if I have missed it, please let me know in the comments below.
These were the everyday pros and cons of the Kia Carens. The good thing is that most of the cons are just software updates away from being taken care of. And the pros really do make the experience of the Carens better. And because the Carens takes such good care of the occupants, I am naming it Nightingale, after Florence Nightingale.
Date Received: Feb 25, 2022
Kilometers when received: 2000km
Kilometers done till date: 6500km
Pros - Loaded with useful features
Cons - Annoying road warnings and sensors