Kia Sorento SLi significantly ups the mid-size SUV ante
What we like:
- Cavernous interior
- Ride quality
- Power and frugality
- Beautiful design inside and out
Not so much:
- Middle row seats can be difficult to fold forward
- Steering feel a little numb and uncommunicative
- Hyundai/Kia 2.2 diesel noise
- Not a lot else really
Kia seems to going from strength to strength with the full revitalisation of its model line-up. The new Kia Carnival has shown that people movers can be big, practical, nice to drive and even sexy, the little Rio combines cute styling with sensible engineering and now the mid-size Kia Sorento SUV has been given the corporate workover.
The new Sorento shares components with and competes against the very talented Hyundai Santa Fe, along with a host of other rivals in Australia’s swelling SUV segment.
Price and Equipment
The Kia Soreno range opens with the Kia Sorento Si front-wheel drive with a six-speed automatic and 3.3 litre petrol V6 that is priced from $40,990 (plus on-road costs) and extends all the way to the Kia Sorento Platinum AWD CRDi (diesel) which starts at $55,990 plus associated government charges.
Our test car was a Kia Sorento SLi CRDi, and is priced from $49,490, plus an additional $595 for the metal stream metallic paint, a price point which places the test car in the upper-middle of the range. Standard equipment includes climate control, leather trim, a rather excellent reversing camera, an Infinity sound system, satellite navigation, front and rear parking sensors, 18inch wheels and a host of safety equipment.
The interior of the Kia Sorento SLi CRDi is a combination of modern and elegant design, robust fit and finish and an abundance of room for passengers. The quality black leather trim on the seats complements the dash which also has stitching for a more premium effect. Similarly, the deep brown woodgrain effect trim helps to raise the cabin ambience almost above and beyond the $50k odd price point. Moreover, the Sorento SLi certainly doesn’t feel like the base model, something which the equivalent Hyundai Santa Fe Elite doesn’t execute so well, with switch blanks peppered throughout the cabin.
So we’ve established the interior is rather pretty. But a beautiful interior is almost irrelevant on a mid-size SUV if it isn’t well equipped or practical. Happily, the cabin of the Sorento SLi is both: the satellite navigation and infotainment systems are easy to use, the Infinity stereo is powerful and crisp and can steam music from your smartphone via Bluetooth.
The instrument cluster numbers are also large and easy to read-especially the digital speedo which is enormous.
In terms of oddment storage, there is an enormous dual-tier centre console which could easily devour any number of mints, wallets, house keys and any other of life’s paraphernalia that may be thrown at it. There’s also a lidded compartment at the base of the centre stack that conceals USB and power outlets.
The front seats are large and very supportive, head, leg and shoulder room are abundant and it’s a similar story for middle row passengers who also enjoy exemplary rear legroom. The middle also slides fore and aft and has a reclining backrest.
The two final two seats pop up out of the load area with the pull of a strap and accommodate two medium-sized passengers with ease. However, we hoped that access system for the middle row of seats would be easier to use.
The rear cargo area is 1,077 litres with the final two seats folded into the floor. An electronic tailgate makes loading paraphernalia into the boot that little bit easier.
Engine and Transmission
Diesel versions of the Kia Sorento are powered by the 2.2 litre turbo diesel engine that is shared with other members of the Hyundai/Kia family including the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Carnival. The engine develops 147kW@3,800rpm and a muscular 441Nm@1,750-2,750rpm.
Not dissimilar to its relatives, the Kia Sorento’s performance is strong, with a good serve of torque available from just above idle right up until 2,750rpm. The six speed auto – that is also shared with other Hyundai products – smooths swiftly and quickly and is a solid match for the oil burner beneath the bonnet.
Additionally, there are Normal, Eco and Sport drive modes which can be selected according to the driver’s mood and road conditions.
At lower engine speeds the Sorento’s cabin seems quieter than the Carnival and Santa Fe, but the diesel’s clatter can heard and felt at mid to higher portions of the rev range.
Throughout the test week, we averaged around 8.7 litres per 100 kilometres on a combined cycle. It is worth noting that the Sorento’s driveline does without start stop technology.
On The Road
The Kia Sorento’s road manners are impressive for a mid-size SUV- the suspension system irons out virtually all road imperfections and very few if any shocks are transmitted through to passengers. In terms of handling, the Sorento is more than competent, and never feels like a blundering bus. Show it some corners and there is a hint of body roll. But this is an SUV, not a sports car, so it’s to be expected.
Further, there’s an all-wheel drive system with locking function for those weekend adventures and camping trips.
The new Kia Sorento SLi protects its occupants with anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, brake assist and electronic stability control. There are also dual front, side and curtain airbags. The Sorento has been awarded a maximum five star safety rating from ANCAP.
Servicing and Warranty: The new Kia Sorento is covered by Kia’s market leading seven year unlimited kilometre warranty, capped priced servicing and roadside assist.
Make and model: Kia Sorento SLi CRDi
Engine type: 2199cc turbo diesel four-cylinder engine with four valves per cylinder
Transmission: Six-speed automatic with all-wheel wheel drive.
Fuel consumption: 7.8 litres per 100 kilometres
Dimensions: 4780mm long, 1890mm wide, 1690mm high and 2780mm wheelbase
Weight: 2306kgSuspension: Front: MacPherson Strut Rear: Multi-link
Steering: Rack and pinion Country of Origin: Korea
Options: Metal Stream metallic paint, $595