Revised 2018 Kia Sorento range continues to impress with new styling, great drivability and great value…but which version is best?
The Kia Sorento has proved itself to be a competent, comfortable and well-made SUV that offers buyers decent bang for their buck. The range has recently had a mid-life facelift, bringing a new eight-speed auto to diesel models, a new petrol 3.5 litre V6, a new 8-inch infotainment screen replaces the 7-inch unit in the old model.
Satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and DAB+ radio are now standard across the range. If you opt for the premium SLi or GT-Line models, you are also treated to a thumping 10 speaker Harmon/Kardon sound system.
Kia Australia’s engineering team has refined the drive experience even further, for more impressive ride and handling.
We tested two models the SLi diesel and the GT-Line to see which new Sorento is king.
Let’s kick off with the Sorento SLi diesel. The Sorento SLi diesel is priced from $50,490 plus on road costs. That $50k buys you seven leather wrapped seats with 8—way power operation for the driver, adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist, driver attention alert, a handsfree tailgate, that 10 speaker Harmon/Kardon sound system, push button start and LED tail lamps.
Under the bonnet you get Kia’s tried and tested 2.2 litre turbo diesel which churns out 147kW @ 3800rpm and 441Nm @ 1750-2750rpm. As always, the engine is an eager performer offering decent mid-range grunt. It can feel a little sluggish off the line though, and the power plant can be a little noisy, especially under load.
The diesel is mated to that all-new eight speed automatic, which shifts quickly and smoothly and should you choose, you can even choose cogs yourself via paddles mounted on the back of the steering wheel. That new auto ‘box channels power to an on demand all-wheel drive system, which does a decent job of ensuring that you have grip when you need it.
Kia claims an average combined fuel consumption figure of 7.2 litres per 100 kilometres, and we managed 8.5 litres, which is still decent for a car of this size.
The Sorento has always been a tidy handler for a full-size SUV and this time around, the boffins at Kia have raised the bar even further. There’s slightly better feel through the steering and the ride quality is supple and comfortable. It’s an all-round good thing to drive.
Now, for the flagship Sorento GT-Line. The GT-Line trim adds blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, LED and automatic levelling headlights, a 360 degree camera system, heated and cooled front seats with heating for the two outer seats in the middle row and design highlights such as racy red brake calipers, side steps and exhaust tips. There are also 19 inch alloys and an electrically operated sunroof. In sum, the GT-Line is equipped to the hilt.
The Kia Sorento GT-Line is available with the diesel all-wheel drive drivetrain or with the new 3.5 litre V6, which makes for a healthy 206kW @ 6300rpm and 336Nm @ 5000rpm. The engine is paired to an eight-speed automatic, which sends power to the front wheels. In this guise, the Sorento GT-Line is priced from $55,490 plus on road costs, or $5,000 more than the diesel SLi. If you want a diesel GT-Line you’re looking at $58,000 plus on roads.
The new V6 drivetrain delivers mixed results. The engine itself feels fast, energetic and almost sporty, whilst being smooth and satisfying the ears with an addictive aural rasp. Acceleration is strong throughout most of the rev range, and that eight speed auto shifts quickly and efficiently to keep things moving. It’s almost fun to drive.
However, 206kW is a lot to send through the front wheels – all-wheel drive isn’t available on V6 petrol models, even as an option – and we found that in some circumstances the Sorento GT-Line struggled to get its power down to the ground. It’s a shame, because the rest of the drivetrain is impressive and isn’t even particularly thirsty, averaging 11.5 litres per 100 kilometres during our test week – Kia claims 10 litres on average – but it would work in Kia’s favour to offer buyers all-paw grip as an option, as Toyota has done with its ever popular Kluger.
So which of the two Sorento models is the best value for money proposition? Well, we reckon go for the Sorento SLi diesel. It features just about everything you need, punchy but frugal diesel performance and a reasonable price tag to match.