Honda family Van

Family matters: we pit two popular Korean-built people-movers in a head-to-head comparison

Hyundai iMax v Kia Carnival Platinum
Comparison Test

The minivan segment in Australia may be small compared to SUVs but sales of seven and eight-seater people-movers have grown by 20 per cent over the past 12 months. Growth in the segment is being driven by sales of the popular Kia Carnival, Australia’s best-selling people -mover. The SUV-based Carnival sells around three times as many units as the van-based Hyundai iMax. But with the iMax undergoing a recent model update, we set out to see how the two compare today.

People-movers are hardly the glamour models of the new car market. But if you’re in need of a genuine eight-seater at an affordable price-point, then there are few options open to you.

We put the updated 2016 Hyundai SeriesII iMax to the test against the 2016 Kia Carnival Platinum. Based on the Hyundai iLoad commercial vehicle, the iMax is a full eight-seater, with a three-row layout while the Carnival has a similar layout but is based on the Kia Sorento SUV platform.

The vehicles are very similar in length, the iMax is just a touch longer at 5150mm compared to the Carnival’s 5115, however, the difference in body styles gives them a very different silhouette. The iMax casts a boxy shadow with its traditional minibus shape whereas the Carnival has a sleeker, family wagon look to it.

From the exterior, the iMax certainly appears like it has much more spacious accommodation, particularly when it comes to headroom. But the Carnival proves itself to be quite the surprise, packing plenty of features within its streamlined form.

Boot space is expansive in each vehicle, leaving you confident that you can carry sufficient luggage for all passengers on board. The Hyundai’s rear opening is wide and deep, offering 842 litres capacity; but the Carnival can carry an additional 118 litres with all eight seats in play.

Ironically for a van-based vehicle, the fixed seat configuration of the iMax limits its flexibility to carry larger loads. It has a static eight-seat layout, and seats cannot be folded flat or easily removed.

The Carnival, however, has a much more flexible seating arrangement, which would be familiar to drivers of SUVs. While all seats in the third row are full-sized, and can easily accommodate adult frames, when not needed they can be folded flat into the boot space, upping load capacity to 2220 litres. The rear of the Carnival becomes positively cavernous with the middle seat of the second row removed, and the car reduced to a four-seater, ballooning to 4022 litres of carrying capacity.

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