The only car Kia could benchmark new Sorento against, is the old Sorento. It really is that good.
Location: The Blue Mountains, New South Wales.
A cool, leafy, mountain top is the perfect place to reveal the mid-life makeover of Kia’s biggest SUV, the Sorento.
It wasn’t all bluster and breeze, the meat and potatoes was all good news.
It is a little longer by 20mm, and all where it counts, inside. The petrol V6 was given a tweak, apparently.
There is that flash new 8speed auto too. Yes, the one from Stinger.
The diesel is as reliable as ever.
The exterior was given a bit of spit and polish, and the cabin has been given a zhoosh. I like it, I like it a lot.
Kia’s COO, Damien Meredith said that there had been one or two criticisms of the pre-facelift car, and Kia had listened.
That is usually followed by a load of old PR flummery to explain why things are exactly the same, but not here. No, no, no.
Of the old model: We said we liked the steering, but it was still a trifle wooden, and now, the rack-mounted unit has extra calibration, and it is smarter too. It adjusts with speed, and feels great.
The new 8speed auto is as smooth a Bublé ballad.
The extra cogs are where it counts. It sorts out the big space between the previous 2nd and 3rd gears, and adds a higher cruising ratio to suck less fuel.
That means more cash left over for champers.
The handiest additions are the 360° camera, AEB (emergency braking), and active lane keeping, which, along with blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert, stop you from banging into things.
Apple carplay/Android Auto is standard on the new 8” touch screen system. Hoorah!
The top model gets a glamorous Harmon Kardon audio system which sounds amaze! The voice control actually works thanks to Carplay.
Rather thoughtfully, the clever Koreans have sorted out 10 years’ worth of Suna updates for the Satnav too.
The additions continue with smart cruise control with a queue function. You can use it in stop/start traffic once you learn to trust it. You have to watch it on the highway though, or you’ll find yourself doing 80kph behind a gray nomad’s pop-top without realizing it.
The restyled lights up front look expensive, and it gives the whole shebang a bit of polish.
The 2.2 turbo diesel puts out 147kw, and an impressive 441Nm of trailer-towing-torque.
Sounding more like something from a Bostonian sorority house, the lambda II is a tweaked V6 petrol power plant, with 206kw and 336Nm. It is A 3.5L unit, up from 3.3L in the old model.
Clever AWD is only available in the diesel models.
Both tow 2,000 of braked kilos, 750kg of unbraked load, with a towball capacity of 100kg downward pressure.
Drive mode selection now has a “smart” mode, which switches between comfort, and sport. There is an ECO mode for party poopers.
Enhanced suspension bushing, and other engineering changes, has allowed local Kia tuner, Graeme Gambold, to wave his hands over the ride and handling. The result is an incredibly quiet cabin, and beautifully smooth ride, even on rubbish roads.
The only car Kia could benchmark Sorento against, is the old model. It really is that good.
I’ve long said that I don’t know how Kia does it for the money. If you shut your eyes and use touch and feel, you could be forgiven for thinking Scotty had emergency-medical-beamed you into an Audi.
That’s no co-incidence. And, if you look at the head and tail lights, especially on the SLi, and GTline, you get more than a faint with of German SUV.
The leather on the top model looks great, and has GTline embroidered in the upper backrest.
Finally, sunshine roof is opened at the touch of a button and has an interior shade if you’re the type who bursts in to flames at the first sign of daylight.
We drove in convoy in and around the Blue Mountains. We lunched at Lithgow, and mingled in the mountains, and Sorento felt at home. I’ve liked Sorento since a drive in far North Queensland, at the local launch a few years ago.
We had 3-up for much of the day, and all commented on how smooth the ride was. After each had a turn at steering, we were equally impressed with the good feel.
Road surface conditions are transmitted subtly to the driver, without disturbing the quiet contemplations of the passengers.
The backseat looks as though 3 adults would fit without having origami themselves into unnatural and indelicate poses.
I drove the V6 FWD car home. Without the hubbub that a launch event brings with it, the cabin took on a calmness you’d expect from a posh limo. The mood softened considerably.
My preference is the AWD car. Not just because it is the top of the line, although that doesn’t hurt. It is because the 2.2 turbo diesel strikes a happy medium between go, and show.
The driver’s seat even has memories for the seating positions.
A night drive gave me the chance to fully appreciate the beauteousness that is the lighting arrays, front and back. Remember, I was not in the top model, or I’d have been able to test out the bendy headlights too.
I warned the Europeans that Korea was gunning for them, and they ignored my pleas, to their detriment.
Kia is launching model after mode, and each gets better. It is backed by an industry leading 7 year warranty, and a manic attention to detail.
The Koreans are incredibly proud of their creations, as well they should be. SH Cho, SH to his friends, is the CEO of Kia OZ. He will no doubt be watching as sales increase on an already popular car.
The video shows just how good this thing looks.
Petrol Si – $42,990, Sport – $44,990, SLi – m$46,990
Diesel Si – $45,490, Sport – $48,490, SLi – m$50,490, GT-Line – $58,990
PLUS ON ROADS
Engines: Petrol V6, 3.5L, 10L/100k
Diesel 4cyl, 2.2L, 7.2L/100k
Transmission 8 Speed automatic
Drive mode ECO, Comfort, Sport and Smart