Almost a third of vehicles sold in Australia in 2015 were crossovers or SUVs and Kia is keen to get a big share of the action. As part of this plan the Korean company’s big all-new Sorento has gone ultra stylish, something that will do it no end of good in the rapidly changing sales market in Australia.
All-new Kia Sorento is offered in Si, SLi and Platinum grades. Prices begin at a reasonable $40,990 for a petrol two-wheel-drive Si and run up to $55,990 if you chose a Platinum with the turbo-diesel and all-wheel-drive.
Even the Sorento Si is well equipped, with 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, power windows and mirrors and wood-look interior trim. The SLi has 18-inch alloys, the wood-look is extended to the steering wheel and centre console and there are sporty looking alloy pedals. Topping off the range is the Sorento Platinum, with a huge sunroof, 19-inch alloy wheels, a heated steering wheel and a more powerful stereo.
A feature we particularly liked in the Sorento Platinum is the choice of two-tone interior trim. It really makes a pleasant change from the endless all-black interiors in most current cars and SUVs these days. There’s even better news on the two-tone look – it comes at no extra charge. Kia spoiled us by providing a Sorento Platinum with attractive light grey and off white trim for our week’s road test.
Gone are the days when SUVs pretend to be tough, angular 4WDs, it’s well known that most owners are buying station wagons and like a bit of flair in their shapes (the wagon’s shape, not the owners … or is it both?!). The third generation look-at-me style certainly drew more than its fair share of looks during our test period.
Sorento’s front end is big and bold, the bonnet is high and the grille has the familiar new-Kia design. Large cutouts for the foglights add to the effect and give it a bold wide look.
The side profile also takes the big ‘n’ bold look with a deep window line that continues all the way to the rear. A current fad amongst stylists is a sharp kick up in the rear-side windows. Okay, it can look sleek, but often ruins the view for the children in the rearmost seats. Sorento is a seven-seater, indeed almost a people mover, so it’s important that the kids can see what’s happening out there.
Sorento Si has an AM/FM audio system with six speakers. There’s MP3, Bluetooth streaming, USB and Aux. Sportage SLi and the Platinum we tested used an Infinity Premium 10-speaker system with sub-woofer and external amplifier.
The system is operated through Kia’s audio-video navigation (AVN) system using a 7.0-inch TFT LCD touchscreen.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
New Kia Sorento comes with a choice of petrol or diesel engines. The Sorento’s four-cylinder 2.2-litre turbo-diesel is a unit already familiar to us from other Kia models, but has had significant changes. In its latest iteration it produces 147 kW of power and a big 441 Nm to torque, the latter from 1750 rpm to 2750 revs.
The 3.3-litre V6 petrol is an all-new design and puts out 199 kilowatts of power and 318 Nm of torque. The petrol powerplant is only offered in 2WD models. As befits its heavier duty use the diesel is used in Sorentos with all-wheel-drive.
All Sorento models have a six-speed automatic as manuals are rapidly becoming a thing of the past in Australia.
Sorento has a five-star safety rating from Australasian NCAP. There are six airbags, including front-to-rear curtain coverage.
All models have ABS with brake assist, ESC, VSM (vehicle stability management), a rear view camera, front and rear parking sensors and a tyre pressure monitoring system.
The Platinum as tested added Lane Departure Warning, Smart Cruise Control, Blind-spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert to the driver safety aids.
The front seats are large, comfortable and support well. The second row pews can slide back and forward to let you juggle space. In their rearmost position they provide a huge amount of legroom for their occupants, meaning four large adults can travel in comfort if the back seats aren’t in use. The rearmost pair of seats and the centre seat in the second row are best left for children on anything other than short trips.
The practical squared-off tail lets you carry a decent amount of luggage even when all seven seats are in use. With the seats down it’s positively cavernous. The centre-row seat has a 60 / 40 split, with a central panel that can fold down to become an armrest, or opened all the way to allow for through loading of long items.
The body of the gen-three Kia Sorento has significantly increased rigidity over the previous model and also uses a lot of sound dampening materials. On the road we found the big Kia SUV to be smooth, quiet and comfortable. Perhaps not quite the standard of the best large sedans, but a lot closer than you might anticipate.
Sorento’s suspension and steering have a lot of Australian input. This firms it up in road grip without any great loss of comfort. It handled dirt sections with some big potholes without missing a beat. The Sorento can be set to Sport or Eco modes – as keen drivers we preferred the Sport setting.
Handling is competent, though don’t expect it to compete with the big name German SUVs in this class. Sorento is a large vehicle tuned for family comfort ahead of sporting pretensions. The variable settings do make it better than average for the Asian class, but if you’re looking for driving excitement forget it.
During our test period fuel consumption of the turbo-diesel was in the nine to ten litres per hundred kilometres range in around town driving, dropping to six to eight litres when on the open road or motorways. Pretty impressive figures for a large seven-seat people mover.
Kia’s all-new Sorento offers a nice combination of style, carrying capacity and sophistication and is already making a name for itself on the new-car sales charts.
AT A GLANCE
Si 2WD 3.3-litre petrol five-door wagon: $40,990 (automatic)
SLi 2WD 3.3-litre petrol five-door wagon: $45,990 (automatic)
Si 4WD 2.2-litre turbo-diesel five-door wagon: $44,490 (automatic)
SLi 4WD 2.2-litre turbo-diesel five-door wagon: $49,490 (automatic)
Platinum 4WD 2.2-litre turbo-diesel five-door wagon: $55,990 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Kia dealer for driveaway prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Kia Sorento Platinum 4WD 2.2-litre turbo-diesel five-door wagon)
Capacity: 2.199 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 147 kW @ 3800 rpm
Maximum Torque: 441 Nm @ 1750 rpm
Fuel Type: Diesel
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 7.8 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 205 g/km
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4780 mm
Wheelbase: 2780 mm
Width: 1890 mm
Height: 1690 mm
Turning Circle: 11.1 metres
Kerb Mass: 1985 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 71 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc
Seven years / unlimited km