Kia Carens (2013-2019) Review

The Kia Carens is a good-value and reliable family-friendly MPV that just lacks a little sparkle

Strengths & weaknesses

  • Long manufacturer warranty
  • Good build quality
  • Seven-seat convenience
  • Not the sharpest MPV to drive
  • High depreciation
  • Running costs can be high
Kia Carens prices from £11,500.
Finance from £325.58 / month.

The Kia Carens is a medium sized, seven-seat family people carrier that is well built, supported by a long warranty and is great value for money when bought used.

Buyers who need space for a family are deserting cars like the Carens in their droves in favour of more fashionable SUVs. In fact, Kia has one or two SUVs, including the popular Sportage, in its line-up.

All that said, if you’re looking for a compact vehicle with decent interior space, the possibility of seating four adults comfortably or five children in the three middle and two rear seats relatively comfortably, then the Carens could be just the vehicle for you.

Its case is made stronger still by the fact that it’s great value as a used car. Ironically, this is because it loses a lot of money from new, partly because it lacks a strong image, is unfashionable and because, frankly, it’s rather characterless. However, if these things don't bother you, you’ll find the Carens excels in the areas that matter most to families.

Chief among these are its reliability. If you doubt it, check out Kia’s impressive performance in the latest 2019 Auto Express Driver Power owner satisfaction survey. The model also comes with a market-leading seven-year warranty from new which means most used ones are still covered by Kia.

The Carens is a safe car, too, earning, when it was launched, a five-star rating from Euro NCAP.
And then there’s the interior. We’ve already mentioned it has seven seats but the rear pair easily fold into the floor to create a decent boot. There’s sufficient space in the remaining seats (they slide and fold, too) and lots of storage solutions for occupants’ odds and ends.
It all feels well screwed together while trim level “2” cars and above look quite stylish.
There are four trims called – wait for it – 1, 2, 3 and 4.

The first is reasonably well equipped but level 2 upwards is when the Carens starts to feel more sophisticated.

Being a family car, the model offers a choice of mid-size diesel and petrol engines. The best all-rounder is the lower powered 1.7 CRDI 114bhp diesel. The higher-powered diesel engine is the only one in the range offered with an optional automatic gearbox.

The engines aren’t exactly sparkling performers - but it doesn't lean too badly in corners and is comfortable and refined. On the downside, the steering lacks feel and the handling is not very incisive, qualities that, fortunately, are unlikely to concern most used car buyers on a budget.


Key facts

Warranty 7 years
Boot size 492 litres
Width 1805mm
Length 4525mm
Height 1605mm
Tax (min to max) £30 to £530 depending whether model registered before or after 1 April 2017; £145 a year for models registered after 1 April 2017 or from £30 to £200 for those registered before that date.

Best Kia Carens for...

Best for Economy – Kia Carens 1 1.7 CRDi ISG 114bhp

With an official economy figure of 61.4mpg, this lowest-powered diesel version is the most economical Carens.

Best for Families – Kia Carens 3 1.7 CRDi ISG 114bhp

The diesel engine and luxurious level 3 trim are a family-friendly combination.

Best for Families – Kia Carens 2 1.7 CRDi ISG 134bhp

This quickest Carens has strong overtaking performance although because it’s tall and heavy and designed to carry families, don't expect it to handle like a sports car.

One to Avoid – Kia Carens 4 1.7 GDI ISG DCT

Unless you must have the automatic gearbox, this most expensive Carens is slow and not very economical.


  • 2013: Model launched with on-the-road prices starting at £17,895. Has seven seats as standard and comes with a choice of three engines (two diesels and a petrol) featuring stop-start economy-boosting tech and in three trim levels (1, 2 and 3).

  • 2013: New top-spec 3 Sat Nav model added with sat nav, upgraded sound system and panoramic sunroof.

  • 2014: Top-spec SR7, based on special edition VR7, is launched. Also level 4 added to the core trim line-up but only available with the most powerful diesel engine. Replaces 3 Sat Nav trim.

  • 2018: 1.7 CRDi ISG 134bhp diesel engine dropped from the range.

  • 2019: Carens dropped from Kia’s model range. All official economy figures from launch to end of sale conform to the old, less rigorous pre-WLTP test in force from late 2018.

Understanding Kia Carens names

Engine 1.7 CRDi ISG

The first number is the size of the engine in litres while the letters immediately following indicate whether it’s a diesel (CRDi for common rail diesel injection) or petrol (GDi for gasoline direct injection) engine. ISG stands for Intelligent Stop & Go, a fuel-saving system that switches off the engine when the car is paused at, for example, traffic lights.

Trim 2

The number indicates the equipment level you can expect to find. There are four trim levels called, simply, 1, 2, 3 and 4 plus for a time Kia also offered VR7 and 3 Sat Nav.

Kia Carens Engines

1.6 GDi ISG, 1.7 CRDi ISG

The Carens’ engines – two 1.7-litre diesels in a choice of two power outputs and a 1.6 petrol – look economical on paper but that’s because they were tested under the previous, less rigorous regime.

In fact, in the real world the 1.7 CRDi ISG 114bhp will do around 46mpg and not, as Kia claims, 61mpg, and the more powerful 134bhp version, 45mpg. The automatic version of this engine will do around 43mpg which, in truth, is about what Kia claims. It’s important to note that 1.7 CRDi models registered before 2015 are not Euro 6 emissions compliant so will attract a surcharge in low emissions zones such as London’s ULEZ.  

The 1.6 GDI ISG petrol engine will return around 35mpg and not 45mpg as claimed by Kia. This won't be a serious issue if you’re a low-mileage driver but worth bearing in mind if you travel farther afield on a regular basis. Otherwise it’s a smooth if not very powerful engine.

On the other hand, the 134bhp 1.7 CRDi is powerful. It’s the only engine to be offered with either a manual or automatic gearbox. However, the auto hurts economy and knocks around 1.5 seconds off the car’s 0-62mph sprint time. Not that it really matters since the Carens is set up to be a comfortable car and doesn’t respond well to enthusiastic driving. That’s why we recommend the less powerful 114bhp 1.7 CRDi engine as being a better all-round choice.




Fuel economy



Top speed





0-62mph: 10.9s


1.7 CRDi ISG




0-62mph: 12.6s


1.7 CRDi




0-62mph: 10.0-11.5s


Kia Carens Trims

1, 2, 3 and 4

Kia can't be accused of embellishing its trim names. Instead, it calls them just 1,2,3 and 4. Seven seats are common to all while level 1 has powered mirrors and windows, driver’s seat height adjustment and good phone connectivity. One clever touch is a conversation mirror that allows front seat occupants to eyeball and talk to rear seat passengers.  

Level 2 brings some much-needed luxury and practical features to the Carens including 16in alloy wheels, reversing sensors, and climate control that maintains a set temperature. Level 3 feels more special still with larger alloys, a sat-nav system with a seven-inch infotainment touchscreen, reversing camera, power-adjustable driver’s seat and leather upholstery. 

The range-topping Caren 4 adds a panoramic sunroof, parallel park assistance and an upgraded instrument cluster.

You may also see used SR7 versions (the special trim was launched in January 2015) They have LED daytime running lights, cornering lights, front fog lights, automatic headlight control, privacy glass, UV-reducing solar glass, dual-zone automatic air conditioning and roof rails. Level 4 exceeds this trim level.


Kia Carens Reliability and warranty

Any discussion about the Carens has to begin with reference to Kia’s long seven-year warranty. It means that as long as it has been serviced according to the official schedule and hasn't done more than 100,000 miles, even a Carens registered at launch in 2013 is covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.

It could be dismissed as a marketing gimmick except that Kia has two models among the top 10 in the 2019 Auto Express Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, plus more models elsewhere in its upper ranks. They include the Ceed, which is closely related to the Carens. That the Carens doesn't feature is likely to be because it sells in fewer numbers.

The model certainly feels well screwed together and the switchgear feels like it will last for many years.

Used Kia Carens

The fading popularity of MPVs such as the Carens means there are great deals to be had on the few remaining new ones. But also on used models.

Add the fact that the model has seven seats, is well equipped and easy to drive, and that most will have the balance of their original seven-year warranty, and it’s clear the Carens is a good-value and reliable used car buy.