What is it?
This new Carens marks a very important milestone in Kia's most recent history. It's the last of the company's model range to benefit from Peter Schreyer's (a man surely earmarked for a place in South Korean royalty) new design philosophy. It's a neat little a seven-seat people carrier.
It's much like you imagine. A bit wallowy, soft, friendly, and like a big warm blanket. The ride is nicely damped and feels settled, the steering is light, the seats are comfortable and the engine isn't too intrusive. And, should the mood take you - or if the kids are being particularly annoying - you can even throw it around, just not very vigorously.
The steering, while light, is just a little too vague, though the body roll isn't too bad considering it's got seven seats. The 1.7-litre diesel engine's 133bhp is sufficient to get you to day care in time, nothing more; 0-62mph takes 10.4 seconds and it will top out at 119mph. There's a lower-powered variant of this engine available (114bhp) along with a 1.6-litre 133bhp petrol unit, though our bet would be to plump for the higher power diesel. You even get a claimed 56.4mpg.
On the inside
The dimensions sound better on paper: it's 15mm narrower, 45mm lower and 50mm longer than the previous generation (if you remember what that was like). And Kia tells us that it's 20mm shorter too, so the overall height is the same as the Kia Soul. Underneath there's a MacPherson front suspension setup with a torsion beam rear axle, and inside, UK-spec cars get a strict seven-seat layout (other markets get five seats as an option). It's nicely laid out, there's tonnes of space, the optional TFT touchscreen display is good, it's very safe, and you have to admit, it does look smart.
Go for that higher-powered diesel and you'll see around 56.4mpg, which isn't half bad for an MPV.