Coming last is never easy. Had the Carens been at the front of Kia’s remarkable recent range metamorphosis, it would likely have garnered more praise than we’re prepared to give it now that its list of enhancements has become customary.
Step back to regard its predecessor as the only barometer of quality and it’s readily apparent that the latest model is a typically vast step forward in function and desirability. But stand far enough back to take in its rivals and it’s equally clear that Kia has delivered a handy competitor rather than a potential class leader.
Still, there’s plenty to appreciate. The Carens is a well priced, decently appointed, adequately comfortable and frugal people carrier that is easily capable of satisfying most of its owners’ requirements.
As a result, the Kia Carens should take a place on the shortlist of any aspiring buyer looking for a well priced occasional seven-seater that, like many in the class, is bursting with cubbyholes and clever storage functions to boost practicality, even if it's short on dynamic involvement.
Consequently, there is little reward to be had from pushing on, which ensures that the Carens sits alongside the vast majority of cars in the class as being a vehicle simply for getting from A to B, rather than aiming to entertain while doing so. Keen drivers looking for a practical family car should head straight to the Ford Grand C-Max instead.
Which means that this chapter in the Kia saga closes with three and a half stars. We look forward to the next.