KIA SORENTO 2002 – 2015

2004 Kia Sorento

2004 Kia Sorento

Kia Sorento (yes, just one ‘s’ to confuse spelling checkers) is a medium-large South Korean SUV that’s almost true 4WD in its makeup. Though as it the case in most vehicles in this market segment it has been softened slightly over the years as makers realise owners want station wagons rather than off-road 4WDs.

The second generation Sorento arrived in Australia in November 2009 and used a beefed up car-like monocoque rather than a body-on-chassis setup that was a genuine bush basher from the old school. The first generation even had a transfer case.

Gen-three Sorento arrived in July 2015 but is still too new to comment on as a secondhand car.

Sorrento’s strong point since its launch in March 2002 has been its styling. It has a nice compromise between sleek and rough n’ rugged and sales have been strong right from the start.

Sorento is sold with either five or seven seats. Luggage space in the seven-seaters is naturally reduced, but is still reasonable.

As people movers the Kia Sorento works nicely, with good interior space. The body-on-chassis model has reasonable comfort, while the monocoque version has a better than average ride for this class.

2009 Kia Sorento

2009 Kia Sorento

The older Sorento petrol engines are V6s with capacities of 3.3, 3.5 and 3.8 litres, with the 3.3 being a particularly pleasant unit. The new Kia Sorento of 2009 took the European route, with smaller capacity engines for lower consumption and fewer emissions. The 3.3-litre V6 was replaced by a 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol, and a new design 2.2-litre turbo-diesel delights drivers, with 436 Nm of torque from just 1800 rpm. For manual diesels the engine was detuned to 422 Nm, obviously something in the manual’s driveline wasn’t up to the big grunt being fed through it.

Five-speed manuals were sold initially, but were never all that popular and may not be easy to resell down the track.

The very early models automatics were four-speed transmissions in the low-cost Sorentos, but this was replaced by a five-speed unit within a year, bringing it up to the same spec as the rest of the range.

The 2009 models are six-speed automatic or manual transmissions, however the manual is only offered behind the diesel engine.

Kia has expanded rapidly in Australia in the last decade and a bit so there are many dealers in major metropolitan areas as well as an increasing number in country cities and towns.

2013 Kia Sorento

2013 Kia Sorento

Repair work is relatively simple and there’s the sort of underbonnet space that makes life easier for all working under there. Amateur mechanics can carry out quite a few tasks, but should leave safety related work to the professionals. As always, it’s smart to have a workshop manual beside you.

Insurance costs are moderate, reflecting the usually conservative nature of Kia Sorento owners. Costs don’t seem to vary a lot from company to company, but it’s always worth shopping around.

Engines should start easily within a couple of seconds at the latest. The exception is that older diesels that may need time on their glow plugs – watch for these plug light going out before trying to start the engine.

Manuals that crunch on fast downchanges may be due for an overhaul.

Automatic transmissions should be smooth in their changes and not take overlong to engage either Drive or Reverse when moved from Neutral or Park.

Check the condition of the cabin, including the rear area, as bored kids can cause damage back there. Similarly, the luggage area can get bashed about by endless bulky items being stuffed in there.

Check for underbody damage and for signs of sand and salt in the nooks and crannies under there if you suspect a Sorento has been playing on beaches.

Also, look for light scratches on the bumpers, mudguards and doors created by being pushed through tight bush tracks.

Expect to pay from $3000 to $5500 for a 2003 Kia Sorento; $5000 to $8500 for a 2006 Sorento; $8000 to $12,000 for a 2008 LX diesel; $14,000 to $20,000 for a 2010 Si diesel; $18,000 to $25,000 for a 2010 Platinum diesel or a 2012 Si diesel; $22,000 to $30,000 for a 2012 Platinum diesel or a 2014 Si diesel; $23,000 to $32,000 for a 2014 SLi petrol; and $29,000 to $40,000 for a 2014 Platinum diesel.;

Start any used-car inspection with a general walk around and a quick look inside the cabin. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of lobbing into tiny details, only to spot a major problem the walk around would have revealed at a glance.

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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