We bring you another cool car, the new Kia Carens which builds on top of the success of the Kia Seltos and the Kia Sonet. It is kind of the younger sibling to the Kia Carnival and in typical Kia style, it brings a lot of styles, loads of creature comforts, and is loaded with tech. And that’s why we are doing a carandbike tech check, to figure out what all cool tech is inside the Carens. So, in this review we guys are doing things a little differently while I am going to be taking care of all the technology on the front row, my colleague Pratik will be telling you all about the creature comforts on the back two rows and there is a lot happening there as well.
Kia Carens First Row Tech
Back to the front, everything starts with the virtual instrument cluster. The 12.5- inches, very clear, slightly matte finish to the screen — you see the speedometer, the rev-counter, loads of details to tell you how much fuel is left, it will give you details around speed traps, temperature, how much mileage the car has done — basically all the information you need to be presented to you in a clear way, simple way and you can also change the colours because this car comes with a bunch of themes.
Also Read: Kia Carens 3-Row MPV Review
And here we have the star of the show — the 10.25-inch infotainment screen and while on the Sonet and Seltos we have seen a 10.25-inch display, this one seems to be different. It is more integrated into the panel, so you don’t see much bezel which is nice, and it seems a bit vivid, and the UI has changed. The UI looks much clearer, simpler, and kind of attractive as well because you get these purple icons which are very minimal and kind of remind you of some of those Android icons which you can download from third-party sources.
It looks sci-fi, to be honest. Generally, it comes with all the features one would come to expect from a Kia and does most of those things in a simpler and elegant way. Of course, it also comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You also get a new split-screen look so you can easily shuffle back to what’s happening in your main infotainment system and what’s happening in whatever apps you’re running on your phone.
But the one unfortunate thing that we are a little salty with, is the fact that we still must use a wire out here. It is not a wireless system considering many cars now offer it — you get it on the Volkswagen Taigun and even some of the more affordable Kia cars, so this is a little bewildering that they haven’t chosen to offer wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. But what is wireless is the charging. It comes with a rubberized pad which also provides cooling and even a big phone like the iPhone 13 Pro Max with a case can easily slot in and it stays secure even if you’re driving on a bumpy road or are on a highway at high speeds, so this will keep it secure and is a very nice solution.
You get a type C port with fast charging support and an old-school USB type-A port which is necessary for connecting the phone to the infotainment system. You also get, in typical Kia fashion, a Bose sound system, 8 speakers, quite a lot, but generally, you get the typical sterile Bose sound signature, so it is not very bass-heavy, but is in fact neutral. The sound can get a bit muddy when you go at higher volumes and can get a bit shrill and trebly, but you can EQ it using the controls in the infotainment screen and boost up the mid-levels and it will give you a pleasing sound especially if you like Bollywood or like modern pop, so overall a very well rounded package.
Kia is also introducing Kia Connect for the first time in India with the Kia Carens. Kia Connect is a refresh to UVO Connect which has been its connected car stack. This is more of a visual refresh than a complete redo. Overall, you get 66 features which is quite a significant jump from the 50 odd features UVO connect had. Kia has dumped the skeuomorphic design language on UVO connect for something that’s more minimal and straightforward to use. It does geofencing, remote unlock, can kick start the climate control remotely, and help with car telematics. It also now gets a dedicated Kia connect button for voice commands on the rear-view mirror. It is a nice upgrade all in all.
Kia Carens Third Row Features
Let’s move to the features you get on the second and third rows. In the third row, you get your own individual AC vents for both the seats which can be regulated from the rotary knob that you get in the second row. You also get your own individual reading lamps, which is quite useful, when you want to read on the move. The third feature that you get here is charging slots for both the seats, so both the passengers have access to their own charging slots. Now, these are new-age type C chargers, so if you use a type A charger, then an adaptor could help. Once you get connected, you can just slide your phone in the side storage space that Kia is offering for both the seats and it’s a quite comfortable drive after that.
Kia Carens Second Row Features
The second row of the Kia Carens offers individual roof-mounted aircon vents, like the third row, which can be regulated from the rotary knob. The other feature that you get is a parcel tray for your lunch, or if you want to keep your laptop or your beverage. The other feature that you get, is the two USB charging slots that have fast charging capability. There is also a refrigerated can/cup holder which can keep your coke or soft drink cans cool and can be regulated from the sliding panel behind it.
Now let’s get to the party piece of the Carens and this is the new Smart Pure Air Purifier with Virus and Bacteria protection. This is quite cool, if you consider the rising pollution and the pandemic scare, this probably works very well for the buyer. You get different modes, including an auto mode, which will let the purifier work on its own but can also be adjusted according to the need, or if you want the cabin to be purified rapidly.
You can also adjust the brightness on its display or turn it off completely. This display also shows the health of the HEPA filter and the standard filter and intimates with a sound when cleaning is required. The cleaning process is also quite simple and can be done by simply removing the panel below the purifier. Once removed, cleaned, and slotted back in, the purifier will denote refreshed AQI reading. This filter doesn’t require regular cleaning and can be used for around two months. Besides the filter panel, Kia has also slotted a compartment for the perfume cartridge, that keeps a refreshing aroma inside. You get three fragrances- Lavender, Ocean, and Forest, that are available at all Kia dealerships. This panel is also detachable, and the fragrances last for about 2-3 months, according to Kia.
Do The Features Make Your Life Simpler?
We spent a considerable amount of time in the second row and the third row of the Kia Carens, and quite honestly, we were surprised with the well-thought-out creature comforts you get here, that could simplify your life even further. The third row fulfills the basic requirement of a passenger with individual charging sockets, separate AC vents, and storage space. Going forward to the second row, the purifier does its job quite well and does appease your reserves about the rising pollution and of course, the pandemic scare. In fact, even on the front-row, technology-wise, you’re getting a lot out here — but there is one key miss. That is the absence of wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Because that is already there in cars such as the Nissan Magnite, which costs less than ₹ 10 lakh.
A car which will almost definitely be upwards of ₹ 15 lakh, at least in this trim, is a big miss as it is a huge convenience issue. If you’re sitting in the back row and it is a chauffeur-driven car, then you can only activate it through the connector on the front seat, which means you need a long cable and if it is a self-driven car, it is not going to be a great experience regardless.
Apart from that, the Kia Carens ticks all the boxes — the screen is great, the virtual instrument cluster is pretty sci-fi, speakers are pretty decent, the air purifier is really cool, and they’ve upgraded it from what we had on the Sonet. There is a lot happening. This car is going to be pretty great for going on long trips.