The Kia Grand Carnival made its Malaysian debut earlier this year, but is it proper MPV, or just a commercial van with seats? Well, we got ourselves the range-topping variant of the eight-seater – the 2.2 CRDI EX – and set out to see if you should you buy this over similarly-priced grey-market Toyota Vellfire and Alphards.

Priced at RM185,888 with insurance, all variants of the Grand Carnival are equipped with a R 2.2 litre CRDi turbodiesel four-cylinder engine providing 190 hp at 3,800 rpm and 440 Nm of torque at 1,750 to 2,750 rpm. The mill is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.

The 2.2 CRDI EX’s equipment list includes projector halogen headlamps, LED-type rear combination lamps, power sliding doors, keyless operation (entry with push-start) as well as a smart power tailgate. It also wears 18-inch alloy wheels finished in silver (shod with 235/60 profile tyres), a roof rack and a black radiator grille with chrome accents.

On the inside, the 2.2 CRDI EX is marked out from lesser variants with its beige two-tone leather seats and triple-zone automatic climate control system with cluster ioniser. The Grand Carnival distributes its eight passengers across three rows of seats, all with their own set of ceiling-mounted air-conditioning vents.

For practicality, the second-row seats are foldable in a 40:20:40 split, and can be slid forwards for easier access to the third row. On the other hand, the rearmost seats, can be folded flat in a 50:50 split to create more cargo space at the back. Boot luggage space with all the seats up is 359 litres, going up to 2,718 litres when they are folded.

Safety-wise, all variants of the Grand Carnival come equipped with six airbags (dual front, side and curtain), front and rear parking sensors, electronic stability control, ABS and hill assist control as standard. Also included are Isofix child seat mounts, with two located on the outer seats at the second row, and one more at the third row on the driver’s side.

Without further ado, here’s our man Hafriz Shah as he gets you better acquainted with the big MPV, and if you should get one. For full detailed specifications of the Kia Grand Carnival 2.2 CRDI EX and its other variants, head on over to CarBase.my.