Yes, oh YES: space, good ride, well equipped
Not so much: no auto wipers, no CarPlay or DAB radio
It’s big, and with bling wheels, it’s bold. It rides with a plushness that should cost bigger bucks, so apart from a few little niggles, is pretty near perfect.
The website says “Exclusive to Sorento GT-Line are Factory Side Steps, Paddle Shifts, Ice Cube LED Fog Lights, Premium Red Interior and 19″ Chrome Alloys”. The options give Sorento the high-end look Kia is aiming for.
Kia have simplified their Sorento line-up with drive-away pricing included:
Si 3.3L Petrol Automatic Drive Away $45,219.70
Si 2.2L Diesel Automatic Drive Away $48,824.70
SLi 3.3L Petrol Automatic Drive Away $50,389.50
SLi 2.0L Diesel Automatic Drive Away $54,064.50
Platinum 2.2L Diesel Automatic Drive Away $61,519.50
GT Line 2.2L Diesel Automatic Drive Away $63,514.50
There is a choice of a 3.3 petrol in the bottom 2 grades, and the 2.2 diesel in all grades. As smooth as the 199kw petrol is, the 147kw diesel is the pick of the engines, and the choice buyers prefer. A 6 speed automatic remains the only transmission option. All Kias have the 7-year warranty.
I’m disappointed that auto wipers and CarPlay have been left out. It seems like an oversight, and for 63 grade I’d have expected both to be included.
Don’t Renault have a Gt Line also?
Outside has been blinged-up with standard side steps and big, bright, shiny, 19” chrome alloys. There is far too little chrome on cars now, don’t you think? The automated tailgate can be painfully slow if you’re in a hurry. it can’t be used in tight spots because you have to stand behind it while leaving room for it to open without knocking you out. It’s one of the easiest systems to use because you don’t have to gesture like a demented windmill. As long as the key has been secreted about your person, standing behind it elicits a series of beeps which sound before the tailgate finally opens. It helps when your hands are full.
Also handy, is the 3rd row of seats which can be easily pulled up so your fruit doesn’t roll about like billiard balls at the first sign of a roundabout. The cargo area is then little bigger than a couple of milk crates, so a dozen supermarket bags fill the space nicely. When you get home, be sure to lower the seats again as the headrests partially obscure the rearview mirror. The 3rd row is raised and lowered with a simple strap at the back of the seat easily reached with the seats up or down. Finally, if you need more space and want to lower the 2nd row as well, there are release levers in the rear cargo area also easily reached from standing at the rear hatch opening. Both rear rows have cup/bottle holders which is a thoughtful touch.
For a soft-roader, the side-steps make the Sorento feel very close to the ground, but the clearance remains a decent 185mm.
The interior is a triumph. Whilst there are one or two bits I don’t like as a matter of personal taste, the cabin feels roomy and tasteful. The plastics feel soft and most of the switch gear has a premium feel. One exception is the brake button which feels cheap and sounds hollow give it a light tap. The Climate control buttons feel similarly light-on. While on the subject of the centre stack, the LCD interface feels a bit slow to respond and, as I said, does not come with CarPlay.
I should qualify this by saying Sorento is now a few years old and Kia’s own products have moved along with the times. Sorento will be due for a bit of a freshen up where I have no doubt the centre stack will get some attention. I’d like to see the surrounding bezels re-designed too. There is something a little old fashioned about big curving lines and large diameter corners.
Kia is a little over-cautious and doesn’t allow any settings to be changed except for radio stations and the temperature. Even saving seat positions in memory requires the gear lever to be in Park. All the caution in the world won’t stop some nong playing with his phone from ripping into an intersection through a red light. I would rather be able to lockout the lockouts especially when there is a passenger who can search and input addresses in Satnavs.
We tried out the heating and cooling in the front seats, and we liked them a lot. The 2nd row makes do with heating only, and the littluns in the 3rd row get nothing. They should be grateful they were even asked along on the trip! When they’re paying for the car themselves, they can sit where ever they wish.
The cabin is light and airy with an uncluttered feel. In fact, the cabin feels bigger than some of full-sized SUV costing many more monies. In fact, if you take anything away from your first experience in a Sorento, cabin space will be at the top of the list.
The active cruise control keeps a distance from the car in front right down to a stop. When the car in front moves off, you touch the accelerator and the Sorento does the rest. It will creep at any speed keeping pace with the car in front up to the speed set on the cruise control. The speed is shown as an orange line on the speedo and is very easy to read. A digital speedo can be shown in between the speedo and taco and is even easier to read than a dial.
What an ol’ smoothie.
It’s been a while since I was last in a Sorento and it is one of those cars that surprises you afresh each time you get in.
The key and car are constantly looking for each other. As you approach, the Kia will sense you, as long as you have the key in your pocket. it will turn the approach lights on, unfold the mirrors and put the activate puddle lights in the side mirrors so you don’t track schmutz onto the carpet. At that time the rear hatch will also wait should you approach to stow the spoils of a hard day’s Antiquing. Better still, you don’t have to plonk your dive gear on the ground after coming back from a dip. I’ve used a lot of gesture control tail gates and most of them are a bust. You wave a piece of your anatomy as if you’re doing some kind of weird and still the damned thing won’t open. That’s the Koreans for you. They make things work.
The lane departure warning is a beep only affair. There is none of the annoying tugging on the steering wheel which makes most people turn it off. The autonomous emergency braking is a huge leap forward in safety. It senses objects in front and slams the brakes on if you don’t. Some insurance companies give discounts for those buying cars with AEB because the system will try to avoid accidents.
Kia’s All Wheel Drive system is as good as any on the market. It shuffles the power from front to back to help keep grip on the road no matter how bad conditions get. We didn’t demand too much of it though. We did a little shopping, a bit of light commuting, and an airport run. Parts of the run were on freeways where the ride was limo-like. It is astounding for any car let alone an SUV.
The “smart entry” is a great system but I’d like a lock button on all doors. As it stands, you have to use the little rubber buttons on the front door handles, and of course you can unlock the rear hatch from the rear but you, again, you have to lock from the front doors. Stepping 3 paces isn’t a huge inconvenience but many cheaper cars have locking/unlocking on all handles.
The pick of the 2 engines is the 2.2L Euro 5 turbo diesel. It is frugal-ish around town, and if slipped into Sport Mode, feels frisky in traffic. Remember, the Sorento weighs 2,036kg so feeling frisky is a big ask of a 2.2. 441Nm of torque no doubt has something to do with it. Kia claims 6.4L/100k on the highway, and 10.1 around town which combine to 7.8L100k. we got 11.5 around town with our very few trips on the freeways. Kia tend to report figures that are reasonably close to real life figures thankfully.
The turning circle is 11.1m, so parking needs some thought, but on the open road Sorento is a joy. The ride is supple in a premium way. Close your eyes, and I defy you to tell the difference between the Kia, and a Euro-box. The Euro-Snob will say, “oh but it isn’t a”, and of course that’s true. However, you’d be laughing all the way to the bank, while thinking of the holidays you’ve been able to have with the dollars saved. And none of the Euro-Boxes have a 7-year warranty or roadside assist.
There is bags of space, so a road trip would be a doddle. More-over, you’d be as comfy as if you were tucked up on the sofa at home. Cornering is a far from the frantic track experience many want. This is the “Sunday afternoon” drive car with a couple of friends. It’s horse-for-courses and you’d buy this car because you need to cart lots of stuff.
This is a lot of car for the money. The driver’s seat glides backwards to let you out, and the tailgate is hands-free. The interior feels classy and the 7-year warranty is a market leader. Sure, Kia doesn’t have the gravitas of a Mercedes Benz which is double the price, and The Merc has more stuff, probably, but it does not have that warranty. I’m not suggesting a Mercedes buyer will buy a Kia as a first car, but I’ll bet my life they’d buy it as a second car.
I like Sorento very much. Although the smaller Sportage is more my style, I’d be very happy if, for some reason, I had to have a Sorento. The spacious interior cannot be overstated. The cathedralesque cabin has a Tardis-like atmosphere. Four adults can feel cramped, even in SUVs, but Sorento feels like you’re sitting in the corner of a comfy club. It is relaxed with a complete absence of pretention. It isn’t pretending to be something it isn’t. That sums up Kia as a company. It is striving to be better without pretending that it was made by white-gloved men in dinner jackets, in a rarified dust-free room with Mozart being played on period instruments gently in the background.
It does what it does well, and with style. Kia is now in the top ten retailers in Australia and is only going up.
Would I buy one? Yes, if I needed a large SUV. As I usually say at this juncture, a proper 4WD is what this body shape should have, but…