The Kia Carens makes a smart buy. It comes with a seven-year warranty, it’s competitively priced and well equipped. Those attributes add up to a very high score in the ‘buying and owning’ section of our judging.
Ranked purely as a tow car, it’s decent enough but definitely a step behind the cars that finish higher in this class.
The lane-change test showed a shortage of grip, and the back of the car was pushed around by the caravan. In a straight line the Carens was more at home, but it didn’t feel as comfortable above 60mph as some rivals.
The 1.7-litre engine is further proof that you can’t judge an engine by its cubic capacity, pulling car and caravan from 30-60mph in a respectable 16.9 seconds.
In the hill start the handbrake needed a very firm pull to hold the outfit steady, and plenty of revs were required to pull car and caravan to the top of the 1-in-6 slope.
Like most seven-seaters the Carens has a small boot with every seat upright, but it’s huge once the third row is folded away, offering enough space for all our holiday luggage. The reversing camera was another plus point, but connecting the towing electrics proved fiddly.