If there is one car company that could revive the 6/7 seater vehicle, then it has to be Kia India with the launch of Carens, an RV or Recreational Vehicle in a segment that was held hostage by archaic 6/7 seater MUV/MPVs. After winning hearts with its SUVs – Seltos and Sonet, and the king of MPVs – Carnival. Kia gave the world an artistic gift and a technology marvel – the Carens.

The word Carens is an amalgamation of two words – Car and Renaissance. The Carens made its Global Debut in India a few months ago. And, boy! what a head turner Kia has launched yet again. If the Seltos was like a breath of fresh air for the Compact SUV segment, then the Carens is an art movement. Today, we will talk about all the tech, safety and convenience features of the Kia Carens, but one can’t ignore its futuristic design. 

So here are some photos of this head-turner vehicle.

 

Now that you have seen this design marvel from Kia India. Let’s step in and experience the most feature-rich cabin you can get for a car of its price. 

Even before you step into the car, it welcomes you thanks to its proximity sensors. Walk near the vehicle with the keys in your pocket and the side mirrors open to greet you. 

The curved dashboard encapsulates you in the cabin. It comes with unmatched finesse, utility and luxury feel to it. The engraved texture on the dashboard is unique and adds to the artistic rendition. In between this piece of art is a neatly integrated and flushed 10.25″ Infotainment system. It looks surreal thanks to the placement, whether it’s on or off. But when it’s on, it is the most advanced and connected infotainment system even compared to the luxury car brands. 

But before we jump into the tech features of the Kia Carens, I’d like to point out that technology is not just about apps or connected cars. It is a way to bring convenience and safety holistically. 

The ‘Home screen’ shows all the vital information at a glance – Time, Date, Media Playing, Weather, and the exact location in 3D even if you haven’t put a route in the navigation system. The layout, colour theme, typography and ease of use are brilliant.

 

Swipe it right, and you are in for a treat with its refreshing, and unique neon themed icon set. It includes all your icons – Map, Navigation, Phone, Phone Projection (Android Auto or Apple CarPlay), Voice Memo, Climate, Valet Mode, Quiet Mode, Radio, Media, Kia Connect, and Settings.

Now let’s talk about these 12 apps/features in detail –

1) Map – While Map and Navigation could have been clubbed in one, Kia decided to keep them as two separate apps. If you need to know your current location and whereabouts, you can simply click the Map icon. 

2) Navigation – As the name suggests, you can use the navigation app to go from one point to another. And thanks to the Live and Connected navigation feature, you don’t have to worry about connecting your smartphone, or the lack of network on your phone. Kia’s live navigation works seamlessly and flawlessly at your (voice) command or a tap of a button.

3) Phone – the phone app comes in handy if you connect your phone through the BlueTooth feature and not via Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.

4) Phone Projection – this icon automatically changes to Android Auto or Apple Carplay icon as and when you connect a compatible Android or iOS device. We tested both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay on the Kia Carens’ infotainment system 

5) Voice Memo – now this has to be the most quirky feature of all times in a car. Let’s be honest, how many times have you reached for a pen and paper or your smartphone to jot down something while driving? 

6) Climate – As the Kia Carens come with a fully automatic temperature control AC, you can either control the Aircon through the Infotainment System where you can visually experience airflow, icons, and temperature as a vivid animation. Alternatively, use the physical AC controls right under the display. 

7) Valet Mode – this is another feature that was limited to luxury cars before Kia brought it to the masses. The Valet Mode allows users to lock certain features and restrict the functionality of the vehicle when giving the car in Valet or to a parking attendant. This helps in keeping a check and prevents abuse of the vehicle by notorious people. 

8) Quiet mode – this again is a noteworthy feature and a one-button solution to limit the media sound to 25 (out of 100) and fade it for only front passengers. Yes, you can do it all by yourself, lower the volume to 25, and use the Fader to move the sound to only the front passenger but that’s not a smart way to do it when you can do it with a tap of a button. 

9) Radio – if you thought this is just another Radio app and there is nothing smart about it. Well, it’s a Kia so even the Radio is smart on this one. Not only does it have great themes, like this classic one you can see below but also has the ‘Soundhound’ feature in-built. So the next time you are listening to a track and figure out which one it is, simply click the Soundhound button. 

10) Media – Like the phone feature, the Media app is for people who connect their phone via Bluetooth and not with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. The media app also works with a USB stick that you can plug-in in into the centre console. Ane that’s not it, there is an option to play ambient sounds to relax while you are stuck in traffic or need a calm moment. Thank you, Kia, for giving importance to mental well-being as driving can be extremely stressful on most days. 

11) Kia Connect – This is where things go to the next level! Kia Connect is the more advanced and personalised version of Kia’s Uvo connect feature. Kia Connect can be accessed by either clicking on the physical button on the IRVM (Rear-View mirror), or by clicking the Kia Connect icon on the infotainment system, via the Kia Connect smartphone app and lastly through Voice Commands. 

It is further divided into six apps/features:

11.1 – Share Destination: It allows users to share their destination location with a contact without using their smartphone. 

11.2 – Calendar: Users can sync their calendar so that they don’t miss their appointments, can also be suggested to drive to a location according to the location in the calendar invite. 

11.3 – Weather: On a road trip and wondering if it will rain or snow? The weather app not only provides the current weather condition of the location but also a weekly forecast. 

11.4 – Sports: No more juggling through screens, smartphones to access live sports scores. The Sports app on Kia Connect offers live scores of your favourite sports or team.

11.5 – Vehicle Diagnostic: Check Engine light is not indicative enough for anyone to know what is the problem with the vehicle. Hence, Vehicle Diagnostic comes into action and tests all the parameters of the vehicle and displays all the information on the screen. So, no more guessing about what could be wrong with your car. 

11.6 – Kia Connect Settings: This is just for the settings of the Kia Connect features. 

12) Settings – The main Settings icon gives access to a plethora of functions like – Vehicle Settings, Lights, Doors, Convenience features, Sofware information and OTA updates, amongst other settings.

What’s great is that Kia didn’t ditch the physical buttons so that you can access anything on the Infotainment System, using the rotary knobs on either side and the capacitive touch buttons right underneath the display. 

And this was just about the features in the Infotainment System. There is so much more tech in the Carens that we still need to cover. Now let’s move to the other display in this car – the 12.5″ virtual LCD instrument cluster with an advanced 4.2″ coloured MID (Multi-Information Display).

Just like the HD Touchscreen Infotainment Display, the Virtual Instrumental Cluster is beautiful to look at and is well thought out. In terms of aesthetics, the best thing about them is that they are neatly integrated into the panel, so you don’t see any bezels. 

It also has a great set of colour schemes that can change according to the Drive Mode you are in – Green for Eco, Violet for Normal and Red for Sport. You can also link the ambient lighting of the car to these modes and it looks beautiful when it is dark.

I loved the Sport mode as the cabin of the car turns into raging red.

Getting into the details, the left side has the tachometer (RPM meter) with Fuel Gauge, and the right side displays the speedometer with Temperature Gauge. In the centre is the MID, which displays vital information at all times. 

 

Users can change the information as per their needs and also cycle between these modes: 

1) Mileage Information 

2) Navigation 

3) Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

4) Media

The MID on the Carens is really smart like everything else. It tells you if you enter a road/lane the wrong way even when you are not using the car’s inbuilt navigation. Not just that, the Speed Limit of a particular road is always displayed on the MID, making it a blessing in disguise. 

Along with that, it gives warnings like Door or Sunroof open, Seatbelt reminders, Odometer, Distance to Empty, Outside Temperature and much more. 

Talking about the connectivity features, users can connect their phone via Bluetooth, Android Auto or Apple CarPlay through a USB port. While there is only one USB Type-A port for connectivity, you also get a wireless charging pad with a cooling function, 12v port and 5 USB Type-C fast charging ports throughout the car. So no matter what row or seat you are seated in, you always have access to a fast-charging port. 

The overall layout of the dashboard is futuristic, clever, modern and artistic. Be it the slim AC vents, the hidden cupholder on the left or the disguised ticket holder on the right. It oozes technology and clever design choices. 

And the buttons for safety and convenience features are also very well placed in the centre console area for easy access for both the driver and co-passenger. Users can change the Drive Mode, turn on the cooling for the ventilated seats at different levels, access the rear camera (without putting the Reverse Gear), Switch on/off the Parking sensors, and control the Hill Braking Control. 

The Kia Carens get a Bose 8 speakers sound system on the top end ‘Luxury Plus 7’ variant that we have been testing for a while now. As you would expect from a Bose setup, the sound is pristine and crisp. There are a lot of Audio adjustments that you can make to tune the sound according to your taste. As a ground rule, the sound from Apple Music will always sound the best compared to other music apps or radio. Make sure to keep Hi-Res Lossless and Dolby Audio on in your Apple Music settings for the optimum sound experience.  

Before we move to the second row to explore the tech, I need to explicitly mention that even the IRVM (Rear-View Mirror) is an advanced piece of tech. It does automatically dim itself and all but also has three buttons for your safety and convenience – SOS, Tow Support and KIA connect. 

Open the 2nd-row doors, and you are welcomed with the new KIA logo through the projection lamps in the door. While you can buy the Kia Carens in 6 seats (captain seats) or a 7 Seat Variant. We had the 7-seat variant for our review. Irrespective of whether you buy the 6 or 7 seat variant, you get a revolutionary (in the real sense), one-touch electric powered auto tumble seat. Trust me it changes the game for vehicles with a 3rd row of seating. It takes away the most annoying and cumbersome part of getting in and out of the 3rd row. 

And once you conveniently get into the 3rd row, you would be amazed by the amount of space available at your dispersal. It is the best you can get in the third row even compared to INR 50 lacs cars like Fortuners and Endeavours. It has to be the first vehicle with a 3rd row where you don’t have to say that it is strictly for children or shorter distances. The third row has ample legroom, knee room, headroom and even reclines to give you more space. That’s not it, you also get your own dedicated AC vents with diffuse function, white LED reading lights, cup+smartphone holders and fast charging port on both sides. 

Ok, so we jumped straight into the third row as it was so easy and convenient to get in thanks to the auto tumble seat. But let’s just get back to the second row and talk about the industry-leading features you get. 

In the beginning, I mentioned that tech is not just about screens or connected car features. It is about how technology can bring a change, make it safer and add ease to your life. The second and third rows of Kia Carens are testimony of that. While the first row gets all the gadgets and gizmos with their connectivity features and the smart interface. It is the other rows that make use of tech for greater comfort, health and convenience. 

The backs of the front seats on the Kia Carens offer a Backseat Table behind the co-passenger seat and a Smart Air Purifier with Virus and Bacteria protection on the back of the Driver seat. So while the one side gives you a business class experience, the other side makes sure you stay hail and hearty in these pandemic times. 

Not just the back but even the bottom of the co-passenger seat is smartly used and comes with a storage box underneath it. 

This new Smart Air Purifier with Virus and Bacteria protection is nothing like you would have seen on any car. While most carmakers settle for cupholder-type air purifiers, Kia has taken a different approach. It takes up the unused space of the back of the front seats and has a lot of functionality. It offers better airflow, a big display and buttons for optimum airflow and ease of use. It can also be controlled, from the Climate settings of the Infotainment Display. And comes with a D.I.Y. (Do it yourself) filter replacement option for a hassle-free experience. 

The display on the Air Purifier shows the health of the filters and intimates with a sound switched on or off and when cleaning is required. The cleaning process is also DIY and can be done by removing the panel under the purifier. After you have removed the panel, you can clean the filter with regular water, and then put it back in the purifier. Once the new or refreshed filter is inserted, the purifier recalculates and displays the refreshed AQI reading. 

Another luxury car feature that you get on the Kia Carens is a compartment for an integrated perfume cartridge. So no more 3rd party perfumes that eat up the cabin space, this one is neatly integrated and keeps your car fresh smartly. You can choose from three fragrances- Lavender, Ocean, and Forest, that are available at all Kia dealerships. 

Apart from these amenities, the second-row passengers also get their dedicated reading lights, USB Type-C fast charging ports, AC vents with Diffuser function, Cooled Cup Holders in the centre and two more in the centre armrest. There is also a rotary AC fan speed controller to control it directly from the 2nd row. 

Now let’s give you a brief overview of the new Kia Connect app which comes with 60+ connected features. That’s more than double the features of the competition. 

The Kia Carens is the first Kia vehicle to get the Kia Connect feature in India. If you have used or know about the UVO Connect app/feature that Kia offered then you will easily get accustomed to the newly launched Kia Connet app. In total, users get whopping 66 features which are most of any automotive offers for this segment. 

The Kia Connect app comes with a minimalist design echoing the design of the Infotainment system. The app lets users geofencing, remote lock and unlock, start the climate control remotely, and access the vehicle’s telematics data. The Kia connect app comes for Android, iOS (WatchOS) and Tizen powered smartphones and smartwatches. 

The connected features allow real-time navigation with Live Map information and 3D Maps for enhanced User Experience.  Users also get access to 24/7 Emergency Assistance, Automatic Collision notifications and Remote Vehicle control. While most companies would charge for such connected and data-driven features, Kia has kept it for free for 3 years. There is so much to cover in the Kia Connect app that we need to do a separate article and video to cover all 66 connected features and device interfaces for Android and iOS devices. Do let us know in the comments section or tweet to @nikhilchawla or @theunbiasedblog if you want us to do a separate article and video covering all Kia Connect features.

Lastly, let’s discuss the Safety features of the Kia Carens. All the tech and luxury don’t matter if a vehicle is not safe. Right? Well, Kia has left no stone unturned to make sure that it is the safest vehicle in the segment with 6 Airbags, ECS/VSM/BAS/HAC/DBC/ABS, All wheel disc brakes, TPMS, Parking Sensor and Camera. 

Overall, the Kia Carens comes with high-strength steel and adhesives to ensure comprehensive safety for all passengers, by reducing the impact in case of a crash. 

To sum it all up, Kia Carens is true to its name – a Renaissance of the modern-day Car. It looks stunning from the inside out, the new Kia logo adds a sense of movement even when the vehicle is stationary, and it is the most feature-rich and tech-laden car you can buy in the segment. 

I am finicky about attention to detail, and the Kia Carens delights me with its attention to detail for everything. If these photos don’t do justice do watch our detailed video soon on the tech, convenience and safety features of the Kia Carens. Also, I’d recommend each one of you to go and try the Kia Carens yourself to experience what a marvel it is. You can either do a virtual tour in the Kia VR Showroom or find and visit the nearest dealer from here – Find a Kia Dealer

By Nikhil Chawla

Social Media Evangelist | Gadget Guru | Model | Photographer | Ex- BlackBerry Boy - Now iOS | WP8 | Droid. Founder and Chief at ‘The Unbiased Blog’. I breathe in WiFi zone, prefer LTE over LIT. Ex MSFT, MCP, A+ and coder. I like news to be served to me on twitter.

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