2018 Kia Sorento GT-Line Review
Isaac Bober’s 2018 Kia Sorento GT-Line Review with pricing, specs, performance, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: Chasing higher sales, Kia recently refreshed its seven-seat SUV adding a new transmission and more safety gear.
2018 Kia Sorento GT-Line
Price From $58,990+ORC Warranty 7 years, unlimited kilometres Safety 5 star ANCAP Service Intervals 15,000km/12 months Engine 2.2-litre turbo-diesel Power 147kW at 3800rpm Torque 441Nm from 1750-2750rpm Transmission eight-speed automatic Drive On-Demand AWD (diesel) Dimensions 4800mm (L); 1890mm (W); 1690mm (H); 2780mm (WB) Turning Circle 11.4m Boot Space 1662L/605L/142L Ground Clearance 185mm Weight 2042kg Spare full-size alloy Fuel Tank 71 litres Thirst 7.2L/100km
THIS THIRD-GENERATION Kia Sorento launched in 2015 with Kia refreshing the seven-seater towards the end of last year. When it first launched, Kia was targeting around 500 sales a month but it never quite got there with sales, in 2017, languishing at around 400 units a month. Kia is hoping its refreshments to the mid-life update will do the trick and give sales a kick.
What is the Kia Sorento?
The Sorento sits on the same platform as the Kia Carnival (people mover) and offers two engines, a 3.5-litre V6 petrol (up from a 3.3-litre) and a 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel which we’re testing in GT-Line trim. The petrol model is a front-driver only while the diesel is on-demand all-wheel drive. Both engines are mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission.
The refreshed Sorento has been stretched a little too offer a little more interior space and, of course, runs an Australia-specific steering and suspension set-up. Beyond this there are some minor interior and exterior tweaks depending on the variant.
Kia took the opportunity to “realign” the line-up with the deletion of the Si Limited and Platinum. The petrol line-up now consists Si $42,990 (+$2000); Sport $44,990 (previously Si Limited +$1000); and SLi $46,990 (+$1000). The diesel line-up is Si $45,490 (+$1000); Sport $48,490 (previously Si Limited +$1000); SLi $50,490 (+$1000); Platinum discontinued; and GT-Line $58,990 (+$500).
What’s the interior like?
The interior of the Sorento is, like other Kia models, of a quality that only a few years ago would have been unthinkable. The design is rather conservative but in the same way the interior of an Audi is conservative in its design. This means, the aim is to produce a practical interior that’s easy to use with enough quality flourishes to justify the price. Let’s not forget, at almost $60k, the Sorento GT-Line isn’t cheap.
The dashboard is a familiar design to that in the Stinger, although where the Stinger gets an infotainment screen jutting up from the dashboard, the Sorento’s is embedded into the dash. But you get that same sweeping dash that’s been beautifully moulded. The infotainment is an 8.0-inch screen and it offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as native sat-nav. The system will be familiar to anyone who’s been in a modern Kia or Hyundai.
Phone’s sync quickly and the system is easy to navigate whether you’re using smartphone mirroring or not. Hard shortcut buttons ring the screen, allowing you to activate the element you’re after quickly. If there are any existing owners reading this, it would be great to hear from them, because I found the call quality can be a little iffy… call recipients commented that it sounded as if I was a long way away (despite having full signal); of course, I was, but you know what I mean. Whether the microphones are poorly placed, or whether I should blame Optus, I’m not sure.
Climate controls sit beneath the infotainment unit and they’re easy to use; this was one of the features upgraded from the old model – this new system offers bigger dials, just like the Stinger’s climate controls.
A large covered storage bin sits at the base of the dashboard, cup holders and the shifter and electric handbrake behind that. Quite often gadget sharing between models can seem a little cheap, but that’s not the case in the Sorento. Kia’s conservative design and material choice integrates features beautifully.
Climb in behind the wheel and leather seats on the GT-Line feel comfortable with good lateral support and a long seat base for good under-thigh support. It’s easy to get into a good driving position thanks to eight-way electric adjustment and four-way lumber adjust. The steering wheel offers reach and rake adjustment. In my week with the Sorento I managed a few longer stints behind the wheel and I can attest that it offers long-distance comfort, neither my legs or back ached at the end of the drive.
There’s a real sense of space from behind the wheel of the Sorento, this was exaggerated in our test car thanks to the gigantic panoramic glass roof that reaches right back into the second row. Indeed, the large glasshouse which helps to keep the very black interior feeling light, also affords excellent all-round visibility. This is enhanced via the reversing and front-view camera and surround-view monitor which is excellent and offers enough detail in the picture that it can help when placing the vehicle on rough roads (see the pictures) or in car parks.
Move into the back of the thing and there’s acres of space for adults. The seats slide forwards and backwards to either maximise second-row legroom or liberate a bit of extra space for those in the third-row. There are ISOFIX mounts on the two outboard seats and top tether anchors for all three seats. The middle seat isn’t as well shaped as the outboard ones but I travelled in this, ahem, suicide seat while Mrs B piloted the Sorento and I was comfortable.
There are air vents and power outlets (one 12V and one USB) for those in the back. Ride comfort in the back is excellent.
To get into the third row you can slide forwards the 40 part of the 40:60 split-fold, yep, the 40 is on the footpath side which is as it should be, and then fold the back forwards. The mechanism doesn’t tumble the seat out of the way and so clambering into the third row can be tricky for the less limber. Indeed, while the third-row seats are sized to suit an adult with plenty of head and shoulder room, there’s not much legroom, so they’re best left for those kids that have outgrown booster seats. There are air vents in the back, storage bins and cup holders, so, in all it’s a pretty comfortable place to be, for those who can fit… The third-row seats fold flat into the floor and can be raised via a strap on the seat back, and you can raise one or both, or none.
The boot offers a very decent 605 litres of storage space in a shape that’s basically a big square, so it’s practical. The boot is automatic and can be raised via the key fob or by pressing the boot release button on the door itself. There’s no kick-to-open function as some other brands offer. Drop down the second-row seats and you get 1662 litres and have all three rows raised and there’s 142 litres which is big enough for a small shop or a couple of soft bags. There’s a full-size spare slung underneath at the back of the Sorento.
What’s it like on the road?
The GT-Line is exclusively available with a 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine making 147kW at 3800rpm and 441Nm of torque from 1750-2750rpm. This is mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission and gets its grunt to the road via an on-demand all-wheel drive set-up, so, front drive until slip is detected and then grunt is sent to the rear axle; a lockable centre clutch pack can be used at low speeds on slippery terrain to lock 50:50 drive distribution. Fuel consumption is a claimed combined 7.2L/100km which is a lot less than the V6 petrol which drinks 10L/100km claimed combined.
In the real world, the Sorento’s fuel efficiency is more impressive than the numbers suggest. In a week of mixed driving (short and long journeys, and some rough road schlepping) I managed to better the lab figure and achieve 7.0L/100km. My own car is a turbo-diesel wagon and it manages 5.0L/100km, but it’s nowhere near as bag as the Sorento, so, I reckon Kia’s engineers have done a cracking job.
Part of this efficiency is down to the transmission which is geared quite tall and in eighth-gear it’s pulling just 1500rpm at 100km/h. Having tested the front-drive V6 Sorento two weeks before trying the diesel I thought the eight-speed transmission struggled a bit with that engine (hunting a bit at times), but that’s not the case with the diesel. The two couldn’t be better matched with smooth shifts from a standing start and at all speeds in between.
The diesel engine starts with a bit of cough but then settles to an idle that you can barely hear, indeed such is the insulation that you can barely hear the engine, road noise (even across gravel) or wind noise at any speed, regardless of the engine load. Meaning, stomp on the throttle from a standing start and you’ll struggle to hear the thing.
Peak torque of 441Nm makes for a pretty lusty machine and that’s despite the narrow 1000rpm peak torque band. Give the throttle a squeeze and the Sorento wooshes off towards the horizon with the transmission swapping cogs and you barely noticing, and there’s good grip from standing starts too. The front-drive only petrol jobbie chirped from every single standing start and that was with the most minute amount of throttle input; the diesel on the other hand is a different beast. We had some rain in my week with the thing and one of my traction control tests is the corner at the end of my street; I make an uphill right-hand turn. Most front-drive vehicles will chirp and then chatter across the intersection as the traction control grabs, and so it was with the front-drive Sorento, but the GT-Line was having none of it…and, in truth, I tried to provoke it; it just gripped and drove up the wet road. No problem.
Even giving it a boot-full on some loose gravel saw the thing grip and go; no wheelspin, no nothing. The traction control and the speed with which the system will send drive to the rear axle to maintain traction is impressive.
The Sorento is not an off-roader but owners would expect to be able to tackle rough roads and so that’s what I did. The rough road loop I took the Sorento onto is about 12km long and has all sorts of surfaces, from nasty moguls to deep washouts and faster corners and some steep uphill sections. And the Sorento took it all in its stride…it didn’t much like the moguls but the suspension tune is such that the vehicle’s weight is managed beautifully, gently controlling the body as it comes down.T
The difference between the two Sorentos (petrol and diesel) is like chalk and cheese. Where the petrol felt like a blunt instrument across our road test loop, the diesel was totally different, feeling much sharper. The body control on turn-in is good as is the mid-corner balance, and the grip is excellent. The Sorento GT-Line isn’t a small machine and yet it can be hustled along quite briskly; keen drivers won’t be disappointed.
The steering is a sight let down and that’s only in the straight ahead where there’s a little play. Move away from centre by a few degrees and the steering is well weighted, direct and consistent in its action. And with a turning circle of 11.4m the big thing is easy to manoeuvre.
Both the brake and throttle pedal offer a nice progressive action which allows you to creep along in stop-start traffic and adjust your speed via the brake without having it snatch and cause your passengers to head bang.
What about safety features?
The Sorento has a five-star ANCAP rating (October 2017) and gets a raft of active safety systems as standard, including autonomous emergency braking with forward collision warning, lane keeping assist which is a very gentle system… it’ll warn you if you run across a line and will gently nudge you back into the lane if it doesn’t sense any steering input; it won’t try and steer against you and you can’t let go of the wheel and expect it to corner for you, it’ll ‘steer’ for only a second or two… Our test GT-Line also gets the previously referred to surround view monitor, rear cross traffic alert and LED headlights which bend to the corner. It also offers airbags that reach into the third row, traction and stability controls and on-demand all-wheel drive.
So, what do we think?
The Sorento GT-Line is a ripper and the mid-life update has honestly made an already good thing even better. The diesel engine is excellent and easily the pick and the on-demand all-wheel drive is good, as is the Australia-tuned ride and steering which sees the thing very comfortable across a range of surfaces. The added active safety features are great and there’s literally acres of space inside the thing. So, if you’re looking for a good quality, fun to drive seven-seater with all the features you could need, then the Kia Sorento GT-Line should be on your shortlist.