The Sorento has had an upgrade, but is pretty much a brand new vehicle, now better looking than ever. Pity Kia doesn’t release sales figures, because I think the last Sorento did quite well by the looks of how many are still on the road. It’s Kia’s biggest SUV that offers loads of space, powerful engines, and lots of specification
How does it lookWell, the pictures speak for themselves, and in my opinion Kia has got styling spot on. It’s adventurous enough without being alienating to the bland Nissan Tiida loving masses. I particularly like the grille and the bright rear lights.
What’s it like insideThe interior comes stock standard with full leather treatment, and can seat 7. The rear seats obviously only for children still leave some space for bags (280l, 1087l with 3rd row down). However they are comfortable, with individual vents in the door pillars. Materials are soft to the touch, expected at this price range, and don’t have that plasticky feel.
There’s a tiny screen for the above average sound system, which did not have RDS and produced sound somewhat like listening to radio through a tin cup. When fully open, the optional panoramic sunroof ads even more space to the interior, but thankfully has an electronic cloth cover to protect the middle aged scalp from burning. There’s a host of standard equipment including PDC, reverse camera, heated & cooled seating, active xenon headlamps, Bluetooth and digital speedometer which did look quite cool. You won’t suffer for space to put things either, with a massive central binnacle, cupholders and no less than TWO 12v sockets and an Aux and USB connection.
How does it handleIt’s comfortable without being too roley-poley, but is obviously no BMW X5. With self-leveling suspension in the AWD model, but only 184mm ground clearance you’re not going to head into Botswana. That said, you’ll do just fine with the AWD system in mud or gravel which can send 50% of the power to the rear wheels, and can be locked in this mode up to 40km/h. It’s more city slicker with off-road prowess than bundu-basher, so definitely no Fortuner rival in that sense. Kia has done work to make sure the Sorento is more refined, and you can feel it, with surprisingly quiet engine and low noise and vibration levels at highway speeds, making the Fortuner feel like an ox-wagon in comparison here.
The engine and gearboxA 2.2litre turbo diesel unit puts out a very respectable 146kW and 436NM torque through a 6-speed auto gearbox. The gearbox does a perfectly ok job of changing smoothly and fairly quickly. That said, the torque converter does a lot of “clutch slip” and can be slow off the mark if you really jam the accelerator down. I was surprised at how gutsy the unit is, considering the size of the vehicle. Fuel consumption respectable, combined highway and city driving delivered just over 10l/100km.
Brakes and SteeringProbably one of the worst assets of the Sorento is the steering. The main gripe from journalists alike about Kia vehicles has been lifeless steering. So, Kia introduced ‘FlexSteer’, which varies steering sensitivity and feel in three settings of Sport, Comfort and Normal. Nice in theory, not so nice in execution. It still feels too assisted or too tight and pulls too strongly to centre. Arcade game like at best. The brakes are up to the task and feature every safety system on offer, but have a very wooden feeling to them.
OverallNot so subtle improvements improve refinement and specification in an eye-catching offering for those on the market for a large SUV. That said, the price is steep considering the competition. At R499 000 for this top AWD model, even considering all the standard specification, there are more premium, albeit slightly smaller, German rivals that may appeal too.
Kia Sorento Price in South AfricaKia Sorento 2,2 7 Seat AWD AT – 147/436NM – R489 995
5 yr/100 000km maintenance plan
Also look atHyundai Santa Fe – 145/436NM – R519 000
Chevrolet Captiva – 135/400 – R443 000
Volvo XC90 D4 At Essential – R480 000