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November 12, 2022

Could The 2023 Kia Carens Spoil The BR-V, Stargazer, Xpander Cross's Party?

Last year, Kia dusted off the Carens nameplate for a three-row global SUV (think Honda BR-V or Mitsubishi Xpander Cross). At the time, it was seemingly destined only for India and other right-hand drive countries in ASEAN. A year later, a left-hand drive version has emerged increasing the chances of it being introduced for the Philippine market.

The left-hand drive version of the Carens was just introduced for the Vietnamese market and it’s actually made there through a Kia joint-venture with THACO (Truong Hai Automobile Co.). With an annual capacity of about 50,000 vehicles per year, they’ve already exported Kia vehicles to ASEAN neighbors, particularly to Thailand.

A platform twin of the Hyundai Stargazer, the Carens takes on a more SUV-like approach to its design with its higher (190 mm) ground clearance and larger (17-inch) wheels. In terms of design, it dons Kia’s “Opposites United” philosophy with features such as LED headlights and taillights, and of course, blacked out wheel arches.

Like the Stargazer, the Carens’s interior is all about modern space. Here though, the execution is much sportier with elements such as a flat-bottomed steering wheel. Features include a 12.5-inch digital gauge cluster, a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and wireless device charging. Top of the line variants even boasts of an 8-speaker Bose sound system and ventilated seats—two features that are unique in this segment.

For the Vietnamese market, the Carens comes in two seating configurations—a standard 7-seater (2+3+2) or a more luxurious 6-seater (2+2+2) with second row Captain’s Seats.

Also setting the Carens apart from other sub-compact SUVs/MPVs is the choice of powertrains. It comes with not just one, not just two, but three engine configurations. The range starts with a normally-aspirated 1.5-liter 4-cylinder / IVT combo shared with the Stargazer, as well as a turbocharged 1.4-liter and a 1.5-liter turbodiesel.

The turbocharged 1.4-liter makes 138 horsepower and 242 Nm of torque guaranteeing strong performance. A 7-speed dual clutch transmission, meanwhile, further sharpens the responses while improving fuel consumption. On the other hand, the 1.5-liter diesel makes 113 horsepower and 250 Nm of torque. This engine is mated to a traditional 6-speed torque converter automatic.

The Carens is also equipped with a wide range of safety features including a multitude of airbags, ABS with EBD, stability control, front and rear clearance sensors, tire pressure sensors, and a reverse camera. Oddly enough, it misses out on having any sort of driver assist tech like Hyundai’s Smart Sense.

For the curious, the 2023 Kia Carens starts out at VND 619 million (P 1.428 million) and stretches out to VND 859 million (P 1.982 million). These prices surely put it out of the same MPV bracket as the Stargazer, but given its measurements, it’s actually closer dimensionally to the Innova which could partially explain its higher price point.


  1. This Kia Carens is already on sale in Indonesia but expensive. Should the Ayala's Kia Philippines intends to bring this car to the Philippines it must be price wisely to outduel the established Mark the Mitsubishi Expander and the Toyota Avanzas.

  2. How much is the Okavanga? The Carens starts at 1.4m?


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