Crosswinds showed the Kia Carens in a poor light. Some of our testers found the caravan beginning to gently sway behind the car at speeds as low as 50mph.
We had no white-knuckle moments, but neither was towing with the Carens a reassuring sensation. In fairness, there was little side-to-side movement when slowing from 60mph.
Although the brakes were easy to apply smoothly in normal towing, we found them lacking in an emergency stop, needing 12m to stop from 30mph. That’s poor when the best cars stopped in closer to 10m.
The Carens struggled with the hill-start test. The conventional handbrake had to be pulled on very firmly to prevent car and caravan creeping backwards, and lots of clutch slip was required to reach the top of the slope. The same was true when reversing a short distance on the far side of the slope.
As a family MPV, the Carens is on firmer ground with a flexible interior featuring a middle row of seats which slide and recline independently. The third row is roomier than in many seven-seaters.
With seats six and seven folded, boot space is very generous, and the reversing camera is useful when hitching up. However, the handbook warns against using the compact spare while towing.
Choosing ‘4’ spec means lots of standard kit, including leather upholstery, heated front seats, a panoramic sunroof, touchscreen navigation and an upmarket sound system. That’s a very good specification for the money, and the car comes with a seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty.