Hyundai Staria and Kia Carnival: Flagship people-mover specs compared


The majority of bigger families opt for large SUVs, but there’s still a market for the humble people-mover.

As there should be, because you’d be smart to go down this path. These are vehicles designed with practicality as considerations one, two and three.

Two of the newest and best are the space-age van-like Hyundai Staria and the sleeker and crossover-styled Kia Carnival.

This pair share a heck of a lot under the skin, but outside they could scarcely be more different.

In the interest of giving consumers some digestible facts, this is a specs-based comparison of the two. We’ve honed in on the flagship variants in particular.

You’ll also note that we draw on our previous reviews of both, and have embedded a few of our videos with relevant time stamps to the section discussed, to really enhance the experience.

How much?

The Hyundai Staria is available in three specification levels, and the Kia Carnival has four trim levels to choose from.

The prices listed are before on-road costs such as state taxes and dealer delivery, known as the manufacturer list price.

Hyundai Staria

  • Base: Petrol $48,500/diesel $51,500
  • Elite: Petrol $56,500/diesel $59,500
  • Highlander: Petrol $63,500/diesel $66,500

If you are looking for a more accurate idea of pricing, you can use Hyundai’s price calculator to find cars available around your area and get drive-away pricing. Alternatively you use the official Hyundai Staria configurator to build and price one in your own specification.

Kia Carnival

  • S: Petrol $46,880/diesel $48,880
  • Si: Petrol $52,380/diesel $54,380
  • SLi: Petrol $57,180/diesel $59,180
  • Platinum: Petrol $64,980/diesel $66,980

There’s symmetry between the Staria base/Carnival S, Staria Elite/Carnival SLi, and Staria Highlander/Carnival Platinum. The Carnival Si doesn’t have a direct price rival in the Hyundai range, really.

Side note: The Hyundai’s diesel is more expensive than the Kia’s because it also comes with all-wheel drive.

What do you get?

We will narrow the features lists down to the range-toppers: the Hyundai Staria Highlander ($63,500 – $66,500) versus the Kia Carnival Platinum ($64,980 – $66,980).

The lower grades are mechanically the same, they simply come with fewer luxury features so your best bet is to define your non-negotiables and find the cheapest variant that covers all your particular bases.

The top-of-the-range variants are hard to go past, and if you want to spoil the kids or wow your customers then these variants will do the job.

Shared features at the top level include proximity key access, remote start function, powered side doors and tailgate, a dual-panel sunroof, leather seats with heating and ventilation up front, and front- and back-row climate control.

Both additionally come with satellite-navigation, live traffic updates, digital radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, two Bluetooth connections, USB points in all seat rows, LED interior lighting, and window blinds.

But the Kia adds extras such as 19-inch alloy wheels, projector LED headlights, heated back seats, a bigger 12.3-inch touchscreen, and a superior 12-speaker Bose sound system. On the other hand the Hyundai alone gets a useful full-sized spare tyre.

Staria Highlander Carnival Platinum
Wheels 18-inch alloy 19-inch alloy
Spare Full-size Temporary
Headlights LED reflector, dusk-sensing LED projector, dusk-sensing
Proximity key Standard Standard
Starting process Button, remote-by-key Button, remote-by-key
Sliding side doors Powered Powered
Tailgate Powered Powered
Parking sensors Front and rear Front and rear
Sunroof Dual panel Dual panel
Seats Leather Leather
Seat temps Front heated and cooled Front heated and cooled, some rears heated
Air-con type Climate control front & rear controls Climate control front & rear controls
Touchscreen 10.25-inch 12.3-inch
Satellite navigation Live traffic Live traffic
Apple/Android Standard Standard
Digital radio Standard Standard
Audio system 6 speakers 12-speaker Bose
USB points All three rows All three rows
Bluetooth connections 2 2
Wireless charger Standard Standard
Cup/bottle holders 16 13
Cabin lighting LED LED
Window blinds Standard Standard

To see all the various options and inclusions offered in the Hyundai Staria range, visit the official Hyundai click to buy page.

Are they safe?

It goes without saying that safety in a people-carrier is paramount.

Both have dual front-occupant airbags, dual front-occupant thorax airbags, and side head-protecting curtain airbags that are advertised as covering all rows.

The Kia has a driver’s knee airbag unlike the Hyundai, but the Hyundai has a front-centre airbag unlike the Kia.

The Hyundai offers ISOFIX and top-tether child-seat attachments in row two, whereas the Kia has these attachments in rows two and three.

In terms of active safety and driver-assist features both come with all the key features available at the minute.

This means autonomous emergency braking for cars, vulnerable road users and junctions; active lane-keeping assist, active blind-spot intervention, active rear cross-traffic avoidance, safe exit assist, a 360-degree camera, and active cruise control.

The Staria is yet to be crash-tested by ANCAP unfortunately. On the other hand the Carnival carries a 2021 five-star rating.

You can find more information on all the safety features offered via the official Hyundai Staria website.

Video starts at interior section

What are they like inside?

While the Kia offers more features for the same price, the Hyundai offers more metal for the money.

It’s 98mm longer and 215mm taller, with the latter being an obvious headroom gain. The Staria is also 183mm longer in the wheelbase.

Video starts at interior section

Both ought to blow you away up front if you’re hopping out of a 10-year old Tarago.

Each has a large centre touchscreen running similar software, and novel shift-by-wire gear selector buttons or knobs.

The Kia has the more impressive centre display and a more driver-focused cabin with SUV-like driving position, whereas the Staria is a vast and airy experience and full digital instruments.

Both offer vast centre-row seats accessed by sliding doors, which themselves slide forward and tilt downwards (the Kia’s in three pieces, the Hyundai’s bench in two). There isn’t an SUV on the market with better third, fourth and fifth seats.

Both have adult-friendly three-seat rearmost benches. The Kia’s is the only one that split-folds, but the Hyundai’s high roof and massive windows give it an edge when it comes to spaciousness and ease of ingress/egress.

Both offer third-row seats that can be moved out of the way (the Kia’s fold down, the Hyundai’s) to free up more space. With all seats in use the Staria’s 831L boot betters the Carnival’s 627L.

For more detailed breakdowns of the respective interiors, if you’re interested, we strongly recommend you check out our reviews here:

MORE: 2022 Hyundai Staria review
MORE: 2021 Kia Carnival review

Hyundai Staria Kia Carnival
Length 5253mm 5155mm
Width 1997mm 1995mm
Height 1990mm 1775mm
Wheelbase 3273mm 3090mm
Clearance 186mm 172mm
Boot size VDA:
Behind 3rd row 831 litres 627 litres

You can customise and configure the Hyundai Staria to your own specifications by using the official Hyundai Staria configurator.

It’s worth looking at the Staria in person, you can book a test drive via the official Hyundai website. You can find your local Hyundai dealer via their dealer locator.

What’s under the bonnet?

Both come with petrol and diesel engine choices, the former being cheaper, more responsive and a little smoother, but the latter more fuel-efficient. The Hyundai diesel has an additional party trick too…

Both models’ petrol engines are a 3.5-litre V6, though as the table below shows the Kia’s makes an extra 16kW of power and 24Nm of torque, and uses a smidgen less fuel – though neither are miserly. The Hyundai is bluffer and a bit heavier.

Both are front-wheel drive and use an eight-speed automatic transmission. The Hyundai’s 2500kg towing capacity is 500kg greater than the Kia’s but if you need to pull trailers you really should get the diesel.

Hyundai Staria Kia Carnival
Engine 3.5-litre V6 petrol 3.5-litre V6 petrol
Power 200kW @ 6400rpm 216kW @ 6400rpm
Torque 331Nm @ 5000rpm 355Nm @ 5000rpm
Driven wheels Front-wheel drive Front-wheel drive
Transmission 8-speed automatic 8-speed automatic
Fuel cons. 10.5L/100km 9.6L/100km
Emissions 239g/km Euro 5 220g/km Euro 5
Fuel tank 75 litres 72 litres
Towing capacity 2500kg 2000kg

Both the Hyundai Staria and Kia Carnival use a 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel engine, though once again as the table below shows the Kia’s version has higher outputs – an extra 18kW and 10Nm to be precise.

Note the fact the diesel’s higher torque output (meaning pulling power) also kicks in much earlier than the petrol, and note also the superior combined-cycle fuel efficiency in lab tests – that sleeker Kia is particularly frugal.

Both again use eight-speed autos and the towing capacities are the same as the petrol models, though again the diesels are better suited to the job.

The Hyundai’s party trick is that it alone has all-wheel drive with its diesel engine, with a centre locking mode no less. There’s no low-range or anything and not much clearance, but for slippery surfaces it’s compelling.

The downside is a further fuel-economy impost.

Hyundai Staria Kia Carnival
Engine 2.2-litre 4-cylinder diesel 2.2-litre 4-cylinder diesel
Power 130kW @ 3800rpm 148kW @ 3800rpm
Torque 430Nm @ 1500rpm 440Nm @ 1750rpm
Driven wheels All-wheel drive Front-wheel drive
Transmission 8-speed automatic 8-speed automatic
Fuel cons. 8.2L/100km 6.5L/100km
Emissions 218g/km Euro 5 170g/km Euro 5
Fuel tank 75 litres 72 litres
Towing capacity 2500kg 2000kg

You can find more details on the various engines offered via the official Hyundai Staria website.

How do they drive?

The tech specs as the table below shows are very similar. Both use independent all-round suspension and electric power steering, and have large dic brakes at both ends.

Don’t let the Staria Load van spinoff lull you into thinking this is antiquated under the skin.

The best ways to see us driving both and giving our thoughts are watching the detailed videos below.

In short, the Staria is both heavier and has lower engine outputs so isn’t going to out-drag the Kia, which itself feels a little sportier (if there’s such a thing for an MPV) next to the Hyundai. Both are quite plush but the Kia is a touch firmer.

Both offer super-light electric steering that makes these two big buses feel more wieldy than they area.

We also noted that both are similarly guilty when it comes to letting wind and tyre noise into the interior more than they ought to.

Hyundai Staria Kia Carnival
Kerb weight 2212kg petrol 2136kg petrol
2325kg diesel 2134kg diesel
Gross vehicle mass 2920kg petrol 2880kg petrol
3040kg diesel 2876kg diesel
Rough payload 708 – 715kg 744 – 752kg
Front suspension MacPherson strut MacPherson strut
Rear suspension Multi-link Multi-link
Front brakes 345mm ventilated disc 325mm ventilated disc
Rear brakes 325mm ventilated disc 325mm ventilated disc
Steering Motor-driven Motor-driven
Turning circle 11.94m 11.7m

If you’re interested in getting into the driver’s seat, you can book a test drive via the official Hyundai website, or reach out to your local Hyundai dealer to arrange one.

Cost of ownership

Hyundai’s five-year warranty falls two years short of Kia’s seven-year plan, both with unlimited kilometres.

Both Hyundai Staria engines have 12 month and 15,000km servicing intervals and average annual servicing costs averaging $360, though there are some additional charges along the way.

Both Kia Carnival engines likewise have 12 month and 15,000km servicing intervals, but respective average annual servicing costs from $492 (petrol) or $515 (diesel), though there are no mentions of additional charges.

CarExpert’s Pick

Our pick is, either seem better for big families than a Sorento or Santa Fe/Palisade SUV.

Ultimately it’s going to come down to balancing the Kia’s more SUV-like looks, extra features, better power-to-weight and longer warranty versus the space-age Hyundai’s airier and taller interior and available AWD.

Full videos here:

Like to Know More?

  • Use the official Hyundai Staria configuration tool
  • Find your local dealer
  • Book a test drive
  • Calculate drive-away pricing

MORE: 2022 Hyundai Staria review
MORE: 2021 Kia Carnival review


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here