Toyota Fortuner or Kia Carnival?

Help our letter sender decide
by Botchi Santos | Feb 2, 2012

Dear Botchi,

We are family of five and often take one yaya along with us when we go out on weekends. We are replacing our Toyota Innova and deciding between a Kia Carnival LWB EX model and the new Toyota Fortuner A/T 4x2 diesel. I would like to know which is more fuel-efficient, easier to drive, and cheaper to maintain. I, the mom and designated driver of the kids, will be driving this vehicle more often than my husband. This will also be our out-of-town car.

I did test-drive the Carnival and I liked it.  My kids liked the ease in getting in and out the Carnival due to its height and sliding-door feature. The Fortuner has a height advantage for our flood-prone roads, but I will have to climb into the luggage area if I want to take the third-row seats up or down. Quite inconvenient for me.

Also, I would like to know if the CRDI engine of the Carnival is more superior than the D4D of the Fortuner.

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I just want to be sure we make the right decision as it's a big investment for us, and we would like to be able to use the vehicle even beyond five years.

Thank you very much!

Confused Housewife,

Hi, Bobbie,

For a Mom, I am impressed with your drive and dedication to find the ideal vehicle for your family! Hope my future wife is just as dedicated about finding the right car for her and our future family.

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From the little that I've gathered talking to engineers in respective car companies, the Japanese tend to rate their engines much more conservatively as compared to their Korean competitors, while Koreans tend to push the boundaries of their engines to produce higher power and torque figures. The popular proverb is that a candle that burns twice as bright lasts half as long, so you'd think that Korean engines won't be as sturdy as Japanese engines. But it is the Koreans who offer the longest warranty as opposed to their Japanese counterparts, so it's either the Japanese engines are just not as well-built as their Korean competitors, or the Koreans have so much faith in their products that they can offer longer warranty periods. In the Philippines, some Korean manufacturers offer as much as five years for a warranty, whereas Japanese companies offer an average of three years. A longer warranty gives you greater faith and confidence in a product.

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Getting specific, a Toyota Fortuner will definitely offer greater versatility and range in incremental/adverse weather and road conditions such as flooding. But aside from that, an SUV will be bulky, heavy and cumbersome to drive and get in and out of. Having kids will always be a challenge as they want space to play (I come from a big family as well so I know your concerns). An SUV isn't the best vehicle for them and since they are kids, getting in and out of one won't be easy. Lastly, the particular Fortuner variant you are looking at is grossly underpowered. Best to move up to the top-model 3.0V variant, or walk away entirely from the Fortuner, landing perfectly into the Carnival.

I love the Kia Carnival. It's one of those surprisingly very good but unfortunately underrated vans people continually ignore because they have a Korean badge. The diesel engine is strong, has enough power to carry the big van through tight and twisty bits and all but the most dangerous overtaking maneuvers, and is light and easy to drive (even with its length) in tight spaces like mall parking areas. You might also want to look into the Starex, but that looks like a mini-bus compared to the Carnival and not as easy to drive in tight spaces, partly because it is much taller if memory serves me right. The Carnival's driving habits are very good and very refined, and it is surprisingly easy to hustle this van when you're rushing in and around the metropolis.

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It might be far from your budget, but look at the Chrysler Town & Country diesel if CATS Motors, the official Chrysler distributor in the Philippines, still has it in stock. That's also a good minivan, from the creators of the original minivan. But on your list, the Kia gets my vote as the most ideal car for your situation.

Thanks for your e-mail. Hopefully, you won't be as confused anymore after reading this. Good luck buying a new car, and regards to your kids and husband. God bless!

Botchi Santos
Consumer Editor

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