Kia Sorento First Drive
The third-generation Kia Sorento might not be as overtly rugged as its predecessors, but its increased refinement, keen pricing and standard-fit seven seats make it an attractive offering, says Isaac Bober.
Forget what you thought you knew about the rugged old Sorento, and say hello to the more stylish seven-seater. Sure, it lacks the ultimate rough-road ability of its predecessor, but it’s infinitely more appealing and still more than capable enough for most Aussie families.
This Sorento has a lot to thank its forebears for, especially the extremely capable first-generation Sorento from 2002 (it launched here in 2003) which set about changing the belief that Kia only built small cars. The nameplate has since sold around 16,000 units in Australia.
The Sorento is available in either 2WD or AWD, petrol or diesel, with only one of the eight variants available with a six-speed manual transmission. The range kicks off with the Sorento 3.5 Si 2WD listing from $37,490 (+ORC) and extends all the way up to $50,390 (+ORC) for the Sorento 2.2 4WD Platinum. Our test car was the aforementioned entry-level Sorento 3.5 Si 2WD.
So, what’s the Sorento 3.5 Si 2WD give you for its $37,490 (+ORC) sticker price? Well, you get the basics. And that includes, remote central locking with keyless entry and tail-gate release, burglar alarm, headlight escort function, electric heated and folding mirrors, tinted windows, six-function trip computer, seven seats, six-speaker audio system with iPod and Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming, speed dependent volume, and dual-zone climate control.
This new Sorento features a five-star ANCAP crash safety rating, six airbags, front seatbelt pre-tensioners with load limiters, active front head restraints, impact-sensing auto-door unlocking, as well as ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, hill-start assist, and both front and rear parking sensors.
The sharper design of the new Sorento is more than just skin deep and includes a full reworking of the rear suspension, stiffening of the bodyshell and improvements to insulation, making this new version one of the quietest in the class.
Sitting 10mm lower than in the previous model means you don’t need a step ladder to access the Sorento, and with 30mm more rear seat legroom, and 9mm more for third-row passengers, it’s a much roomier cabin. You get a massive 1047 litres of boot space with the third row folded flat (this drops to around 200 litres with the third row in position). The good-looking exterior of the Sorento is off-set by a more conservative-looking interior. Indeed, compared with its sleek and stylish twin, the Hyundai Santa Fe, the Kia Sorento feels a lot less flashy but there’s no doubting the roominess or the cavernous and numerous storage spaces.
A standard 3.5-litre V6 makes 204kW at 6300rpm and 335Nm of torque at 5000rpm, and this is mated to a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic, which works well in manual mode too. Fuel consumption is a combined 9.8L/100km, although I averaged 10.5L/100km in my week with the Sorento 3.5 Si 2WD. Thanks to local tuning of the suspension, the Sorento is as comfortable and quiet on an Aussie country back road as it is on the highway. There’s enough roll resistance in tight bends to keep it upright, and it feels nice and stable on all but the worst of roads where it can follow undulations in the road (tram lining), and it’s easy to place on the road.
PRACTICAL MOTORING SAYS
Overall, the Sorento 3.5 Si 2WD is a nice competent seven-seater that rides and handles well, has a grunty and refined drivetrain, and a decent amount of standard features. It’s the perfect alternative to some of the pricier seven-seaters on the market, but for families that like to get their feet dirty, you’ll need to pay more for the 4WD variant.