Despite walking away with a range of motor industry awards since its launch more than two years ago, Kia’s seven-seat sports utility vehicle, the Sorento, had, according to some observers, a few shortcomings.
The South Korean manufacturer has taken these on board and has come up with mid-cycle changes that address these.
The changes include Kia’s in-house eight-speed automatic across the range, a new larger capacity long-stroke petrol engine, a higher and longer body for increased internal space, revised and improved ride and handling characteristics to better suit Australian conditions, as well as multi-media upgrades incorporating Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
On the safety front all models have (automatic emergency braking (AEB), Lane Keeping Assist and Driver Attention Alert. There’s a 360-degree camera on Sorento GT-Line.
Pricing for the petrol variants opens at $42,990 (an increase of $2000) for the Si; Sport is $44,990 (previously called Si Limited, +$1000) and SLi is $46,990 (+$1000).
Diesel pricing starts at Si $45,490 for the Si (+$1000); Sport is $48,490 (previously Si Limited +$1000) and SLi $50,490 (+$1000). Platinum has been replaced by the GT-Line at $58,990 (+$500). On test was the 2.2-litre diesel Sport with eight-speed automatic transmission.
In a bid to give the Sorento a bit more street presence – after all it is built to take seven occupants – the front end has been rearranged with new bumpers, as has the rear, with new tail-lamps too.
The characteristic Kia ‘tiger nose’ radiator grille has been given a new dark metallic finish while new Rich Espresso and Gravity Blue paint finishes are available for the body.
Sorento now has a range of modern-design 17, 18 or 19-inch aluminium alloy wheels
Conversely, inside the cabin are more soft touch materials and leather for a more premium cabin ambience. Customers can specify single-tone (black) or two-tone (black and stone beige), with cloth or leather upholstery. Optional brown or light grey leather upholstery is also available.
The driver and front passenger seats are equipped with four-way and two-way adjustable lumbar support respectively for enhanced comfort. A newly-designed steering wheel and driver instrument cluster, as well as a new climate control LCD display add to the upgrades, while the dashboard also features a new audio-visual aspect to satellite navigation.
Focus of the system is the latest Kia 8-inch touchscreen, with navigation and Kia Connected Services powered by TomTom. This offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, allowing for full smartphone integration.
Android Auto is designed to work with Android phones running 5.0 (Lollipop) or higher; Apple CarPlay, for iPhone 5 or newer. The centre console now incorporates a wireless smartphone charger, allowing users to fire up the apparatus on the run.
Buyers can upgrade their Sorento with a new Harman/Kardon 640-watt, 10-speaker surround-sound audio system incorporating Clari-Fi music restoration technology, which rebuilds audio signals lost in the digital compression process, returning high-fidelity quality to digitally-compressed music.
The system’s QuantumLogic surround sound technology extracts signals from the original recording, redistributing them into a refined and detailed playback of music.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The 2.2-litre diesel engine comes with a new eight-speed automatic transmission, replacing the six-speed auto. It has quicker shifts than the outgoing six-speed.
A further bonus is a greater choice of gears for more responsive acceleration and lower carbon dioxide emissions, down from 172 to 159 grams per kilometre.
International studies have shown driver fatigue to be a key factor in up to a quarter of all fatal traffic crashes. So the Sorento is available with Kia’s latest advanced driver assistance systems, designed to combat distracted or drowsy driving.
The system monitors of inputs from the vehicle and the driver, sounding a warning chime and displaying a graphic in the instrument binnacle if it senses a lapse in concentration from the driver.
Other safety features include lane keeping assist and LED headlamps, with bending light on GT-Line, making the Sorento one of the safest vehicles in its class.
As a five-seater, getting in and out of the Sorento is easy enough, with ample fore and aft travel of the front two rows of seats. With this configuration, leg room is good and cargo carrying space adds up to 605 litres.
Access to the back, despite long travel of the middle row, is quite an effort to climb up and once seated adult occupants’ knees and backs can be put under stress, particularly on a long journey. Luggage space is cut to a miserly 142 litres too.
With seat backs on all but the front row folded, the reverse is the case, with a van-like 1662 litres of room for cargo on a flat floor. The manual liftback requires little effort to operate.
The driver and passengers can enjoy a ride to fit their mood, with four modes – Eco, Comfort, Sport and Smart – in the offing through Kia’s electronic drive select via a button on the centre console.
Each enables the driver to dial up fuel economy at the expense of performance, and vice versa and adapts the weight of the steering. The new Smart mode seeks to second guess the driver’s steering preferences to suit road conditions, automatically switching between the other three modes.
In comfort mode, fuel consumption was recorded at 4.9 litres per 100 kilometres on a sustained motorway run and, at worst, 11-plus around city streets. With a turning circle of 11.36 metres getting in and out of parking spots was with a higher degree of difficulty. The reversing camera and audible warnings helped.
Kia Sorento is driving headlong into one of the most congested segments of the industry, so it’s going to be tough. However, it’s hard to go past the generous seven-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.
AT A GLANCE
Sorento Si petrol $42,990
Sorento Si diesel $45,490
Sorento Sport petrol $44,990
Sorento Sport diesel $48,490
Sorento SLi petrol $46,990
Sorento SLi diesel $50,490
Sorento GT-Line diesel $58,990
Premium paint $595
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Kia dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Kia Sorento 2.2-litre turbo-diesel auto 7-seat wagon)
Capacity: 2.199 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 147 kW @ 3800 rpm
Maximum Torque: 441 Nm @ 1750-2750 rpm
Fuel Type: Diesel
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 6.2 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 164 g/km
DRIVELINE: Eight-speed automatic
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4800 mm
Wheelbase: 2780 mm
Width: 1890 mm
Height: 1690 mm
Turning Circle: 11.36 metres
Kerb Mass: 1991 kg
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc
Seven years / unlimited kilometres