Kia’s had a good 2015 in the Australia car market, with both the Carnival and Sorento winning gongs from drive.com.au and Behind The Wheel, plus the Sorento was awarded a prize in the Good Design‘s “Transportation” category.
A Wheel Thing back to backed two Kia diesels, the family perfect Carnival and the impressive Sorento Platinum, both powered by the grunty 2.2L diesel.
The test vehicle provided was covered in the optional (and pretty) Snow White Pearl. At $595 it’s not a deal breaker, on top of the RRP of $55990. The exterior recently copped a makeover, softening some of the harder edges and, in A Wheel Thing’s opinion, makes it more feminine friendly, as the previous look definitely had a masculine attraction. It still manages to take up a reasonable amount of real estate, with a length of 4790 mm, 1890 in width and a surprising 1690 mm in height. Surprising, as it looks taller.Donk wise, the 2.2L diesel provides 441 Nm between 1750 to 2750 rpm, with the somewhat annoying lightswitch “bam” onces it reaches around 1600. Although the Platinum is an AWD version, it’s predominantly FWD oriented with a lock mode for some off-roading, meaning the front will grip and then send torque through to the rear, with the accompanying slamming back into the seats of the passengers if launched moderately hard. Under gentle prodding, it’s a smooth and quiet progression.
Kia quotes economy as as 7.8L per 100 on a combined cycle, with the natural habitat seeing 10.1L per 100 klicks. Considering it’s lugging a dry weight of around 2000 kg, it’s reasonable from a 71 litre tank. Should Sir and Madam decide on a highway trip,there’s something in the order of 6.4L for every one hundred or, theoretically, somewhere over 1000 kilometres.
That’s helped by that smoother, more svelte looking exterior. The headlights have a less eagle eyed sharpness to them, with the top edge rolling into the bonnet, with the lower bumper exhibiting a more aerodynamic look, sporting a rolled off crease above the driving lights and flowing air more efficiently along the side. There’s also a somewhat more bluff and vertical look to the nose plus the traditional “tiger nose” grille looks to be enlarged. The profile is much the same whereas the rear has a strong resemblance, thanks to the lights, to the Carnival. The review vehicle came fitted with a towbar, with the Sorento able to tow up to 2000 kilograms.
Inside, A Wheel Thing suspects that Kia’s design team has taken inspiration from a certain British luxury and sports car brand. There’s a gloriously sweeping arch atop the dash, joining the driver’s and passenger side doors, with finely embossed, almost stitched leather look plastic. Grey wood grained plastic complements the stone coloured upper level trim and black leather seating and the (heated) steering wheel has the same off centre pivot as found in cars from the U.K. brand.
The dash and tilt/reach adjustable steering wheel interact with information shown on the logically laid out dash screen, which is accessible via tabs on the tiller. Fuel usage on the fly, average fuel, trip meter and more, all in clean and easy to read fonts. Blutooth streaming is on board, allowing great sounds via the ten speaker Infinity sound system. The tiller itself is of a good heft, however there were occasions when the plastic inlay came to hand and hand grip was minimised.
Tech wise there’s a glass roof, Hill Start Assist, Blind Spot Detection and Lane Change Assist, plus Lane Departure Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, auto levelling headlights, park assist sensors and rear view camera plus tyre pressure monitoring. All standard in the Platinum.
Being a seven seater, there’s aircon controls in the rear, but oddly in the rearmost section, not where the more logical passengers would be seated, in the middle row. The stored seats are devilishly simple to operate, with a simple pull strap mechanism doing the work. The middle row are the immensely usable tilt and fold style, (with cargo going from 320L to 2066L) with the fronts naturally electrically operated, with heating and venting.
Should one need somepower for items such as a mobile phone or a fridge, there’s three 12V sockets, with two being handily placed in the front section. There’s also 2 USB charger ports along with an Auxiliary for extra sound input.
Kia’s six speed auto is a delight to use; Sports mode or manual shift was rarely used but does make gear changes just that touch crisper. There’s no real need to use it during normal driving as it simply works as expected; smooth, fast, quietly. There’s a locking centre diff should one desire to try the 235/55/19 off road…highly unlikely, however.
On road, the Sorento is well mannered, with a measure of understeer in some circumstances. Under brakes (which were, quite frankly, in dire need of of a pedal that gave feel as soon as you touched it, not an inch down in travel) there was a distinct lack of confidence in hauling up the two tonnes plus. Ride quality, however, made up for it, being just soft enough to flatten out most lumps comfortably.
It’s chuckable enough to have fun with as well, with a nimbleness at odds with its apparent bulk. There’s more than enough grunt to get it under way rapidly and when punted hard, will move with surprising alacrity. Tip in in to a turn and yes, there is that understeer but easily controlled into a touch of oversteer with a deftpiece of footwork.
Kia is one of the Australian automotive markets hidden secrets; there’s the astonishingly underrated Kia Pro_ceed GT, the funky Soul and the immensely family friendly Carnival (diesel is the pick). The Sorento is a class act and worthy of the awards it has won. As far as A Wheel Thing is concerned, it’s as family usable as the Carnival with the added attraction of being soft road capable, if that’s your wont. And at under $60K, with a huge standard feature list, it takes the fight to the Europeans and is well equipped to do so.
There’s Kia’s standard seven year warranty, capped price servicing ($400 for the first service at 15000 kilometres or 12months)
For details and brochure downloads: Kia Sorento range and info