Previously, there has been a noticeable disconnect between the quality of Schreyer’s exterior design work and Kia's dreary interiors, but the uninspired Carens rather suits its largely characterless cabin.

While there is precious little among the matt black plastic and nondescript instrumentation to leave a lasting impression, there is a faultlessness to its functionality that foils any real criticism. Visually forgettable it may be, but you’re unlikely to hunt for a button for long or find yourself unsighted at 70mph on the motorway. 

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Editor-at-large
The Kia Carens has a roomy, versatile and durable interior

Behind the front pews, there are now three individual middle-row seats (replacing the previous generation’s bench), all of which slide and tilt. Both shoulder and headroom are about on a par with rivals, so there is plenty of the latter and not quite enough of the former.

Leave the third row of seats in the floor and there’s a 492-litre boot below the window line. That's expandable to 1650 litres with the middle row down, which leaves you with a usefully flat floor. Alternatively, the two rear seats can be (separately) raised from the floor via pull ties.

These additional seats do not adjust and, as is standard across most of the segment, are only suitable for the shortest legs and lowest heads in the family. 

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Inevitably, accommodating seven almost eliminates the boot’s usable space, although we like the new underfloor compartment used to stow the removable load cover. Kia claims class-leading in-car storage, with two underfloor compartments in the second row and enlarged glove and centre console boxes flanked by numerous cupholders. 

There’s not much to break up the expressionless, overcast theme instigated by the dash, but nothing feels chintzy or extraneous. The Carens may have been designed without much ceremony or sparkle, but its cabin feels resilient enough to cope with family life without wilting.

On the equipment front, there are five trims to choose, in ascending order - 1, SR7, 2, 3 and 4. The entry-level Carens trim includes air conditioning, cruise control, electric windows, USB and Bluetooth connectivity and heated door mirrors as standard, while upgrading to SR7 adds privacy glass, auto headlights and wipers, dual-zone climate control, vanity mirrors and rear parking sensors.

The 2 trimmed Carens come with more chrome touches, folding door mirrors and interior ambient lighting, while those who opt for the 3 will gain leather upholstery, electrically adjustable and heated front seats, heated steering wheel, rear sunblinds and Kia's 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system complete with sat nav and reversing camera. If that isn't enough, then the range-topping 4 trim adorns your Carens with a panoramic sunroof, a parallel parking system and front parking sensors.

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