Monday, May 20, 2013

Used Car Review - Kia Carens (2007-2012)

People carriers are common in the country, and Myk Belmonte evaluates this candidate for the Senate and will this win the people, or shall we say buyers? Find out.

2007-2012 Kia Carens

I may have written these words (or in this case, description) several times that Korean makers develop vehicles ranging from those first time owners to the executives who are patriotic. People carriers are mainstays since they make sizes of small, medium, large, and extra large. Similar to a political family, they have people from the small position to the national ones.

In Kia's roster of MPVs and vans, the Carens (or Rondo in other countries) is the entry level one. The model started life in 1999 but the third generation model was released in 2006. As they say, learn to think local. And in some markets, both five and seven seater versions were sold. The US market discontinued this in 2010 but their Canadian neighbors love this one. 2012 was the last year you can buy this one internationally.

As a part of Columbian Autocar Corporation's product revamp, the Carens was made available to the Philippine market in 2007. At that time, it complemented the Carnival and battling the likes of the Innova and Grand Livina. Both gasoline and diesel engines were made available but the former was dropped in 2009 due to lack of consumer interest. Available in the Kia dealership near you until 2012, with the last stocks being sold and quietly dropped in the local website in the middle of the year. As you read this, an all new generation is made available, but the previous generation Carens is a great candidate as a cheap people carrier. Trims available are the LX and EX, with the latter available only in automatic transmission.

Value and Costs
At P430,000-P650,000, you can get a small MPV that is also fuel efficient. There are numerous worthy candidates priced in the same category such as the Toyota Innova, Mitsubishi Adventure, Suzuki APV, Nissan Grand Livina, and the Toyota Avanza; but research more on your needs especially that when you realize that the top brands are big for your requirements.

With the influx of Korean specialist shops, purchase of parts for your Carens is as easy as 1-2-3. However, if the diesel engine is what you seek, check the unit you are eyeing has a problem with the turbocharger. This is the most fragile part and expensive (and not to forget, you'll have to wait for long) to fix, especially if the owner does not have the habit of warming down the engine for 2 minutes the most after a long drive before shutting down the engine.

Exterior and Interior
There is not much to be said about the exterior, but there is one important thing to remember, this can fit 7 warm bodies in a compact package. The smallish body has a versatile cabin that can accommodate your ever changing needs. Hubcaps come standard with the LX while EX models have alloys.

Bare is the word to describe the interior. Black and beige are dominant in the dashboard, and there are tons of storage bins hidden inside. The transmission shifter is placed in the middle of the dash, freeing space. A foot brake comes standard but operating it is a problem especially for the manual variants. There is space in the front and middle rows but kids are welcome in the third row. Fold the third one and you get a great amount of space for a couple of shopping bags or a stroller.

Two engine options are made available, and let's begin with the most popular one. You'll encounter the D4EA 1,991cc diesel engine in every Carens for sale you see. For the figures, it packs 140hp at 4,000rpm and 314Nm at 2,500rpm. The G4KA 1,998cc gasoline from the Theta engine family, on the other hand, is rare and discontinued in 2009 but it has 145hp at 6,000rpm and 201Nm at 4,250rpm. While the gasoline engine is a decent performer, the diesel engine is the one to get. It may have conservative figures but it is very fast, thanks to the light body and, if you are lucky, available six forward gears in the manual transmission.

Driving Impressions
While not a bad drive, it is neither supple on the urban jungle nor composed on the corners in the provincial roads. Refinement is a mixed bag, with noise coming from the suspension, wind, and road can intrude the cabin. Speedwise, the ride gets better but gets out of posture when hitting the bad ruts. Steering, on the other hand, is decent but body roll is just moderate.

Big on utility, that's what the Carens wants to prove to the voters that every cent of their penny is worth it. There are apparent weaknesses, but you'll forgive those when you appreciate the big kit this car has.

The Good:
  • Powerful diesel
  • Drives like a car
  • Great room in a small shell
The Bad:
  • Bare interior
  • Suspension noise
  • Good luck if the turbo from the diesel gets shot
The Pick: Diesels

Engines: 1,998cc G4KA Theta gasoline and 1,991 D4EA I4 diesel
Power: 145hp @ 6,000rpm (gasoline), 140hp @ 4,000rpm (diesel)
Torque: 201Nm @ 4,250rpm (gasoline), 314Nm @ 2,500rpm (diesel)
Fuel Consumption: 8-10km/L (city), 11-13km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 5-speed manual (gasoline), 6-speed manual (diesel), 4-speed automatic
Suspension: Front independent McPherson strut, rear independent multi-link

Price (New):
Price (Now): P430,000-P650,000
Rivals: Toyota Innova, Nissan Grand Livina, Suzuki APV, Toyota Avanza, Mitsubishi Fuzion, Isuzu Crosswind, Mitsubishi Adventure
On Sale: 2007-2012
Kia Pasay - (02) 852-1490
Kia Quirino Avenue - (02) 564-3084
Kia Congressional- (02) 927-1880

Photos courtesy of

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