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Take two for Kia Carnival crash safety test

Crunch time: Kia’s Carnival has been tweaked to improve its crash safety performance, possibly earning it a five-star rating at last.

Kia fixes Carnival’s safety shortcomings ahead of another ANCAP test

15 Jul 2015

KIA Motors is about to resubmit its Carnival people-mover for another Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) crash test in Sydney after modifying wayward elements that caused it to fall short of a five-star safety rating when the family bus was launched early this year.

The modified Carnival will go into showrooms about the end of this month after Kia engineers rushed through changes that they hope will elevate the eight-seater to a five-star rating.

Seatbelt reminders for second-row seats are now fitted – mandatory for a five-star rating under ANCAP rules this year – along with modifications to braces on the foot-operated parking brake and knee-protecting padding on the steering column to better protect the feet and legs.

The result of the ANCAP test announced in March came as a shock after the Carnival was awarded five stars in similar in-house tests.

Some of the blame for the “marginal” rating for the driver leg protection in the Australian test might be because of the differences between the left-hand drive vehicle and right-hand drive.

In its report on the 64km/h frontal overlap crash test on Carnival, ANCAP said the passenger compartment held its shape well, except for foot well and firewall deformation.

“Pedal movement was excessive” it said. “Dash components were a potential source of knee injury for the driver.”

Out of a possible rating of four points each for upper leg and lower leg protection, the Carnival was awarded just 2.0 and 1.22 points respectively.

The overall frontal crash test result was 10.48 out of a possible 16, falling a couple of points short of the score needed for five stars.

However, late changes to the design of the second-row seats for the Australian model meant seatbelt reminders were omitted in the first six-month production run of vehicles, so the vehicle was never going to get five stars under rules introduced on January 1 anyway.

The total score for Carnival – 30.48 out of 37 – included a perfect 16 out of 16 in the side impact test, and 2.0 out of 2.0 for the side pole test.

Kia Motors Australia (KMAu) media and corporate communications manager Kevin Hepworth said this week that that while the original result had been disappointing, Kia’s engineers in Korea had “put themselves out there” to try to fix it.

He said a re-designed brace to hold the parking brake in check had been put into production, along with a new collapsible mounting for the knee pad, to reduce the impact of knee strike.

“Cars on sale by about the end of the month will have these improvements,” he said.

Mr Hepworth said the Carnival would be resubmitted to ANCAP for testing at the Crashlab facility in Sydney, and while he said he did not know when that would happen, he added: “Hopefully soon.”

He declined to predict if the car would make the five-star grade this time around.

Kia aims to have all cars engineered to five-star standard, even though its own consumer surveys suggest crash safety is not one of the top concerns for buyers in the showroom where design, features, value and Kia’s seven-year warranty are rated higher.

This year, the new Carnival is locked in a sales battle with Honda’s Odyssey that was given a five-star rating under the 2014 rules.

At June 30, Honda had sold 1482 Odysseys while Kia had shifted 1463 Carnivals.

In June, the Odyssey outsold the Carnival by just two units – 380 to 378.

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