The Kia Carens Elite is essentially an upgraded version of the Carens launched in 2006.
The Carens Elite boasts such niceties as automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, power driver’s seat, illuminated vanity mirrors, dual air bags, digital climate control, leather steering wheel and alloy wheels as standard.
This comes on top of the equipment fitted locally, which includes a reverse camera, sophisticated Sony entertainment system and leather upholstery.
Like the previous MPV, the Carens Elite provides adequate seating provisions for seven.
Going by MPV standards, the Carens Elite definitely has its bases covered, notably against the established mid-size MPVs like the Honda Stream and Toyota Wish.
There are air con vents to pipe chilled air to the second row of passengers.
And the seats fold, tilt and slide like the best people movers in the business.
But thanks to the Carens’ compact footprint – it’s not as long as a Mercedes-Benz C-Class – legroom for the last row isn’t what you would call “luxurious”.
The cabin is always hushed, and the ride is settled with the relatively high-profile tyres (60 Series) collaborating with the suspension to belittle even the most vicious of badly repaired roads.
Bearing the cost for the car’s high-refinement levels are the power and drivetrain.
The Carens Elite’s 2-litre engine has decent mid-range oomph and the 4-speed automatic has a “Sports” mode that allows enthusiastic manual shifting.
But the Carens Elite never feels peppy enough to deal with arrogant taxi drivers.
Then again, Bentley drivers, even with their powerful turbocharged W12 engines, don’t bother themselves with cabbies.
2009 Kia Carens Elite 2.0 (A)
ENGINE 1998cc, 16-valves, inline-4
MAX POWER 145bhp at 6000rpm
MAX TORQUE 188Nm at 4250rpm
GEARBOX 4-speed automatic with manual select
0-100KM/H 11.9 seconds
TOP SPEED 181km/h
PRICE INCL. COE $62,999