Car Reviews

2021 Kia Sorento Range Review

Which Kia Sorento is right for you? Our full rundown of the 2021 Kia Sorento range including servicing, how much it costs to own, which engine is best and which one to buy.

Kia’s new Sorento is a huge leap forward from the South Korean manufacturer and delivers one of the best seven-seat SUVs in its class. We’ve spent some time now crawling through and driving the new models and have been impressed with the quality of the fit and finish both inside and out.

Which Sorento is best?

There are four different variants and two engines on offer, diesel or petrol. This gives a wide range of options including the choice of front or all-wheel drive for added ability (all-wheel drive only available on diesel models).

Model Engine Price (plus on-road costs)
2.2L Diesel $51,290
S 3.5 Petrol $48,290
Sport 2.2L Diesel  $54,290
Sport 3.5 Petrol $51,290
Sport+  2.2L Diesel $58,290
Sport+  3.5L Petrol $55,290
GT-Line  2.2L Diesel $66,290
GT-Line  3.5L Petrol $63,290

All models come with seven seats set over three rows (2+3+2) and the S, despite being the entry model, is well equipped. 

It rides on 17-inch alloy wheels – the smallest in the lineup – but comes with all of the needed technology: an 8.0-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, DAB+ digital radio and USB and aux input, parking sensors front and rear, reversing camera, roof rails, automatic wipers, automatic folding mirrors, LED headlights with DRLs and fog lamps, manual seat adjustment, sliding second row and a full-size spare wheel.

Safety equipment, as standard, includes AEB with pedestrian cyclist and junction detection, adaptive cruise control with stop and go function, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot detection and avoidance, driver attention and rear cross-traffic alert.

Upgrading to the Sport brings larger alloy wheels measuring 19-inches, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, front rear LED fog lights (over lamps), high-beam assist, 10-way electric seat adjustment, 10.25 media screen, dual-zone climate control, third-row fan control and vents and sat nav.

Sport + adds keyless entry and start, fake leather seats (no shame there, they’re quite nice), heated steering wheel, second and third-row USB ports and heated front seats.

The GT-Line is packed with an around-view 360-degree camera, electronic child safety lock, rear occupant alert, panoramic sunroof, projector-style dual-LED headlights, 12.3-inch fully digital dashboard, quilted Nappa leather seats (fancy), 14-way electric seat adjustment with memory, head-up display, 64-colour interior mood lighting (does NOT throb with your music, don’t be silly), wireless phone charging, heated outboard rear seats, heated and ventilated front seats and a driver in-car intercom. It also adds Remote Smart Parking Assist which lets you use the key to remotely pull your car out of a parking space. 

The Bottom Line

Considering the GT-Lin isn;t demanding a considerable premium there is a lot of great equipment on offer. As a value option in the entire segment it also one of the most feature packed at a good price.

At the entry level the S is not recommended over the Sport, with the larger 10.25-inch adding a lot to the interior and the extra equipment like dual-zone climate and a third row fan control some very welcome add ons.

What is the Sorento warranty and servicing like?

Kia’s unbeaten seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty is present and correct and remains the standout package. Except for Ferrari having the same length of the warranty, if not unlimited kilometres. So you’re in good company.

You also get roadside assist and capped price servicing for the duration of the warranty.

2.2L Diesel Servicing  
Service Interval Price
1 Year or 15,000 km $335.00
2 Years or 30,000 km $544.00
3 Years or 45,000 km $408.00
4 Years or 60,000 km $729.00
5 Years or 75,000 km $377.00
6 Years or 90,000 km $670.00
7 Years or 105,000 km $400.00
   
3.5L Petrol Servicing  
Service Interval Price
1 Year or 15,000 km $338.00
2 Years or 30,000 km $533.00
3 Years or 45,000 km $411.00
4 Years or 60,000 km $725.00
5 Years or 75,000 km $381.00
6 Years or 90,000 km $657.00
7 Years or 105,000 km $404.00

The Bottom Line

All models are covered by the same warranty and seven years is one of the longest of any manufacturer, and certainly in this segment. For servicing, the diesel is not much more expensive than the petrol over seven-years capped price servicing.

What’s it like inside?

From a thoughtful layout to superb materials and interesting textures, the cavernous interior is a lovely place to be in. The base model gets only a smaller infotainment and some basic materials, but it is still a nice cabin overall. Little things like matching fonts on all the screens make a huge difference to the perception of quality and this is not the Kia of old. 

Front seat passengers have a good place for a phone, two cupholders and big door pockets that include bottle holders and a decent centre console bin. Move to the middle row and you have a cupholder built into each door-mounted armrest as well as two more in the centre armrest. Third-row passengers also get a tray for their phones, a cupholder each and USB ports in some grades.

As well as being a longer car, the wheelbase is up by 35mm longer than before to improve interior space. Legroom is up 93mm in the middle row – you can tell by the huge rear doors – although some of that is at the expense of third-row passengers. The third-row headroom has risen along with the front row’s.

With all seats in place you have 187-litres of cargo space (up 45), with the rears folded you have 605L (up 11) and with the middle row down you have a massive 2011L, somehow 349L more than before.

The range-opener S screen which is the smallest also soldiers on with the older version of the media software on an 8.0-inch screen that looks lost in the space occupied by the larger screen which is available in the rest of the range. It does have the saving grace Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (via USB), Bluetooth with multiple phone support, and DAB digital radio.

That larger unit measures 10.25-inches with a new software system behind it and it looks the absolute business. The high-resolution screen shames the Kluger’s ridiculously cheap aftermarket-looking screen and is one of the best in class. It also has sat-nav and split-screen functionality and in the GT-Line, an in-car intercom. That car also has a 12-speaker Bose-branded system.

Of particular note is the display in the radio screen where the frequency numbers are displayed in old light-bulb graphics. To reinforce the idea this system is from a luxury German brand, there’s a Sounds of Nature feature that fills the cabin with relaxing sounds. 

The Bottom Line

Given just how good the new large display is, it is well worth upgrading to at least Sport grade for the larger screen. The GT-Line, however, is where all of the nicest equipment, materials and technology lies. The sound system is also a cracker – if you want the business inside, this is the model to get.

Which engine is better?

Its horses for courses. The petrol engine offers plenty of grunt at good value, though mind it will use a little more fuel. The diesel is more frugal and has plenty of grunt too, and is also all-wheel drive; the petrol V6 can power only the front wheels.

Specifically, the 2.2-litre SmartStream diesel develops 148kW and 440Nm of torque. This new version is 19.5kg lighter courtesy of an aluminium block while Kia says the improved official consumption figures are the result of reduced friction.

The diesel’s eight-speed twin-clutch transmission sends power to all four wheels. The official combined cycle figure comes in at an impressive 6.1L/100km, 1.1 litres better than the outgoing car. Kia claims this new wet clutch system is good for 300,000km, too. 

The 3.5-litre V6 makes a return in Lambda III form, producing 200kW and 332Nm. Coupled with an eight-speed torque converter automatic, it only comes with front-wheel drive. The combined fuel consumption for the petrol is 9.7L/100km.

The engineers have added a bunch of new sound-deadening measures such as acoustic film on the windscreen, various new bushes, and materials in the carpet to reduce sound. The diesel has hydro bushes to further isolate the engine from the cabin. It has worked.

The Bottom Line

There’s certainly no shame in either engine as both are strong units. Those who are not fazed won’t mind the petrol V6 while appreciating its power when needed. For those who are planning long trips, the diesel will be more frugal and better at towing, plus the all-wheel-drive system is very good in the wet and on loose surfaces.

What’s the ANCAP rating and how safe is it?

ANCAP has awarded the Sorento a maximum five-star ANCAP rating to 2020 standards.

It has seven airbags (including a centre side airbag), you get ABS, stability and traction controls, forward AEB (camera or camera plus radar depending on spec), reverse cross-traffic alert, parking collision avoidance (GT-Line only), driver attention detection, multi-collision braking (applies the brakes after a crash to stop you rolling into another one), blind-spot detection, blind-spot collision avoidance, lane keep assist, lane following assist, safe exit assist (like Audi’s exit warning) and in the GT-Line the blind spot view monitor which flashes up a camera image in the digital dashboard of what is in your blind spot.

The models with camera-radar systems feature pedestrian (warning and braking), cyclist (warning and braking) and junction protection (stops you sailing out into cross traffic at the front between 10 and 30km/h).

The Bottom Line

It does not get better than a five-star ANCAP rating when it comes to official testing in Australia and the Sorento touts the maximum score. But beyond that, it has features like a centre airbag which is crucial for minimising person-to-person impact in a potential collision. The technology is also some of the best you can currently get, too.

Is The Kia Sorento A Good Choice?

If you’re reading this you are likely in the market for a large SUV and see a need, or at least the option, for seven seats. Well, the fourth generation Sorento sits easily at the top of the pack on many counts: a spacious cabin, some leading technology including safety standards, and two solid engine choices with nice drivelines. And it has a long seven-year warranty with seven-year capped price servicing.

Beyond that, the Sorento is stylish inside and out and has some very nice equipment in the GT-Line not found this side of a hundred grand.

The Bottom Line

Given the breadth of improvement with the second-tier Sport model’s equipment upgrades, the value option for those on a budget is the Sport. It is nicer inside than the S which is where you’ll spend the most time. If money is not such an object then the GT-Line shines with a huge range of nicer trims, creature comforts and extra stylish appointments on the exterior.

For the drivetrain, it will personal choice: both are good, so go with what feels nicest to drive and suits the budget.


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Ben Tate
Ben Tate
5 months ago

PM. Helpful story. Thanks. The Sorento looks nice. But a couple of questions:

My pet gripe with some “AWD” systems is that they’re “part time” FWD. Eg stopped at a red light with the front wheels near the white paint, some supposed FWDs light up the front tyres … until the AWD system detects spin and kicks in. Even worse if the white paint is wet. Hope Kia has permanent AWD on the diesel. For those with part time FWD, why not program them to go to AWD between 0kmh and 20kmh?

Next point. Which is best for for towing? The torque converter auto or the dual clutch unit? Does the DC auto have to clutch slip when backing a van up a steep slope? Or do the modern DC autos have such issues sorted?

Ben Tate.

Practical Motoring

Practical Motoring