Price and Equipment

Kia CarnivalKia’s big bus starts off on the back foot, with a pricetag-to-equipment ratio that’s not quite as sharp as the Honda’s. Just shy of $48K, the spec list covers the basics, but the only real standout features are sat-nav, tri-zone climate control, active cruise control, lane-departure warning and AEB – features also boasted by the Odyssey VTi-L. Instead, the Carnival’s value lies in its size and power. 16/20

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Honda OdysseyHonda packs in plenty of equipment into the VTi-L for the money, bringing standard-issue leather, power-operated rear sliding doors, 360-degree camera view, blind-spot monitoring, active cruise, AEB and lane-keep assist for a lower outlay than Kia’s mid-spec Carnival. The trade-off is four-cylinder rather than six-cylinder power and a cabin that’s not as roomy as that of its Korean rival. 18/20

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Interior and Connectivity

Kia Carnival: Carnival’s interior is cavernous, placing its passengers at SUV height and delivering ample leg and shoulder room for eight people – with a fair amount of cargo on board. Infotainment needs are well catered to, with a large and responsive 8.0-inch touchscreen, three USB charging ports and standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. In fact the only real downside is the basic beige cloth trim. 17/20

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Honda Odyssey: VTi-L flagship brings captain’s chairs in the middle for seeming luxury, but the cushions are flat and there’s not enough foot room. Comfort in other seats is sub-par too, and fitting three across the third row will prove squeezy for adults. Poor cabin storage further hurts its score in this category, as does the absence of smartphone mirroring on the slow-responding 7.0-inch touchscreen. 12/20

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Ride and Handling

Kia Carnival: The Carnival is big, and it certainly feels it from behind the wheel. Plenty of steering assistance makes for easy parking, but the penalty is completely remote feedback through bends. Not that you’d really be attacking curves in a five-metre-long van that weighs over two tonnes, but if you do the Kia reponds with planted and faithful handling, while the ride is decidedly plush. 16/20

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Honda Odyssey: The Odyssey feels (is) notably smaller than its rival, and it’s actually decently dynamic for a people mover with a torsion-beam rear end. While ride comfort is decent, however, there is a lack of depth and sophistication to its set-up. Where the Carnival drives like a tall but lush passenger car, this can seem like a van with seats beyond the suburbs, a point reinforced by the excessive road noise. 12/20

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Performance and Economy

Kia Carnival: Power is most definitely a Carnival strength, thanks to the 3.3-litre V6 lurking in the snout. The 336Nm output easily outguns the Odyssey’s meagre 229Nm, and compensates handily for the Kia’s weight. The predictable downside is thirst. The official consumption figure is 10.8L/100km, but you won’t even do that well if most of your driving is in the suburbs. 15/20

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Honda Odyssey: The Honda’s powertrain story is one of efficiency. The Odyssey lacks muscle (it’s softened further by its CVT) and with a full load of seven on board, it will no doubt segue from a bit slow to gutless when faced with hilly terrain. It has a 160kg-odd weight advantage compared with the Carnival, though and combined with that smaller engine, it officially burns 1.1L/100km less. 15/20

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Warranty and Servicing

Kia Carnival: As warranties go, the Carnival is unbeatable. At seven years/unlimited kilometres, Kia’s factory warranty brings supreme peace of mind for owners. Service intervals are scheduled for every 12 months or 15,000km, which gives the Carnival a further edge over the Honda, and service prices range between $356 and $689
per visit, for a five-year service tally of $2428. 19/20

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Honda Odyssey: The Honda fares quite well in the after-sales category with a decent five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty. But that’s still two years shy of the Kia. A bigger handicap, however, is Honda’s six-month/10,000km service interval. Service prices that alternate between $267 and $305 per visit (except for a $291 service every 30 months/50,000km) see the five-year service cost total $3234. 16/20

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Overall winner: Kia Carnival Si 

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