2017 Kia Sorento GT-Line: A Wheel Thing Car Review

SUVs are the big ticket seller in Australia and one of the brands that nails this market is Kia. The Sorento is their big gun here, and quite bluntly, the 2017 Kia Sorento GT-Line is an absolute pearler. Here’s why the $58490 (plus on roads) Sorento looks like a winner.It’s a seemingly tiny 2.2L diesel up front of the two tonne beast. Seemingly, until you find out there’s 441 torques on tap at a very useable 1750 to 2750 rpm range. Economy around town is quoted as 10.1L per 100 kilometres. Combined is 7.8L/100 km. A Wheel Thing had slightly more urban than highway yet managed to finish on a highly credible 8.5L/100 km, from a 71L tank. In fact, the Sorento had just ticked over to 750 km as we rolled into a station to top up and still had an expected range of sixty kilometres.

There’s a surprising amount of peak power, 147 kW, at 3800 rpm, meaning the transition between peak torque and power is a smooth and natural transition. Acceleration is, as a certain British brand would say, adequate. What isn’t are the brakes. For such a heavy and quick vehicle the brakes need more bite initally, as there’s just too much travel before anything feels like it’s about to bite. It’s a niggle, given the size of the front and rear discs at 320 mm and 305 mm respectively.That’s about it for anything not quite right. The rest of the GT-Line Sorento is as good as you’re going to get in the market right now. Standard equipment is pretty solid on the Sorento Platinum, on which the GT-Line is built upon. Naturally there’s a slick six speed auto and an all whheel drive system that’s front drive oriented until sensors divert grunt rearwards. The 19 inch alloys are chromed and look stunning, wrapping 235/55 rubber. You’ll enjoy tyre pressure monitoring and a full sized spare, for that extra peace of mind.

There’s an electrochromic rear vison mirror, which means it automatically dims any headlights and immediately minimises any potentially dazzle. On board are auto headlights, of High Intensity Discharge configuration and are auto leveling to boot. Kia also fits the Platinum and GT-Line with AFLS, or Adaptive Front Lighting System which “controls the headlight beam and adjusts it to suit the steering angle.”The mocha coloured leather seats are heated AND cooled with the driver getting a ten position adjustment and memory positioning, the gloss black and leather trimmed steering wheel is heated and yes, it does make a difference. A nifty touch to the front seats is the switch mounted high up on the passenger seat’s right hand side, which allows fore and aft adjustment & backrest tilt by the driver for any middle row passenger on that side feeling a touch cramped, not that they should with the leg room available. The driver gets a seven inch information screen and there’s a seven inch touchscreen for the Infinity ten speaker audio system, of which the junior reporters for A Wheel Thing said was the best car audio system they’ve heard. Naturally there’s satnav on board, which was easy to use and is designed with a clean to read look.The dash design is classic Kia, with ergonomics taking pride of place. Buttons and dials are where instinct would have your hands fall, the textures of the various plastics range from a leather look to gloss black, and there’s even extendable sunshades which, on the drive south to the beautiful NSW coastal town of Kiama, were a boon given the setting sun on the driver’s side of travel. Passenger comfort and amenities aren’t forgotten either, with 2 USB ports, three 12V charging ports, six cup holders, four bottle holders, map pockets, and rear seat aircon, plus a full glass roof for night time star gazing.

Inside the 4780 mm long machine lies a wheelbase of 2780 mm. Inside that is a seven seater configuration, allowing luggage space to go from 320 litres to a huge 2066 litres. As usual, Kia’s engineering is tending towards functional easiness, with a simple and highly effective pull strap system being used to raise and lower the third row seats. For privacy and secuity, Kia also add in a cargo screen, net, and offer an under floor compartment.Outside, the GT-Line gets alloy sidesteps and red brake callipers, which contrasted nicely with the test vehicle’s Snow White Pearl and the aforementioned chromed alloys. There’s folding mirrors, external lighting including in the door handle area, and the car responds to you as you approach thanks to the key fob triggering those mirrors and lights. And you’ll not be disappointed in the Sorento’s mix of assertiveness and flowing lines. There’s the quad or “Ice Cube” LED driving lights as seen in the sadly missed pro_ceed GT, the standout “neon light” look for the rear lights, and the trapezezoidal look for the windows in profile.It’s the road manners of the big car that will prove to be the crucial part of the experience. It’s adpet and dealing with road surface changes, nimble when required, sure footed and planted over almost everything, flattens those annoying shopping centre speed bumps into submission, and then there’s driveability from that torquey four for the extra dial it up factor.As mentioned, A Wheel Thing took the Sorento to Kiama, south of Wollongong, and chose to use the tight and twisty Mount Keira Rd and Harry Graham Drive, along the top of the imposing escarpment overlooking the town. They’re great roads for testing the handling mettle of cars and proved ideal in testing the two thousand kilo plus car. Brake travel feel aside, when they bite they do an excellent job on hauling the Sorento down to sharp corner speed, especially on some of the steeper turns. The three mode steering system adds a bit more heft in Sport but still remains somewhat artificial in feedback and is best left in Normal.It’s deft enough in that mode with quick response to light movement. Plus, the suspension on the Sorento is such that weight transfer, anything that may unsettle the vehicle in such a situation, is balanced nicely between comfort and control.

Naturally there’s the usual safety features although there’s no driver’s kneebag. There’s Blind Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist, Lane Departure Warning System, and Autonomous Emergency Brake with Kia’s Forward Collision Warning System. Two ISOFIX child seat mounts are standard across the range as are seatbelt pretensioners at the front.

At The End Of The Drive.
There really is very, very, little to find fault with in the 2017 Kia Sorento GT-Line. In honesty, the brake feedbake and lack of driver’s kneebag are all that really could be improved and added, as the rest of the package for the Sorento GT Line is near nigh perfect. Add in the now standard seven year/150000 kilometre warranty, roadside assist and capped price servicing and it’s a bundle that has nothing left to be added in. It’s a car that’s better than well placed to take on the Europeans and beat them at their own game.
For more details, click here: 2017 Kia Sorento range


2016 Kia Sorento Si Petrol: Car Review.

2016-kia-sorento-si-profileWhen an SUV is nominated for, and wins, best car awards, there’s a fair bet something is being done right by the company that builds it. Kia’s Sorento was carsguide’s 2015 Car of the Year, Drive’s best SUV for 2015, and a winner in Australia’s Best Cars Family Wagon and SUV categories. A Wheel Thing looks at the current entry level model in the range, the Kia Sorento Si with auto and V6 petrol engine.2016-kia-sorento-si-engineThe Si is two wheel, front wheel, drive. The 3.3L V6 powers those front wheels with 199 kW and 318 Nm of torque. Kia says fuel consumption is: 9.9L per 100 km – Combined, 13.5 L/100 km – Urban and 7.8L/100 km out on the highway of standard unleaded from a 71 litre tank. There’s a tare weight of 1875 kilograms…why are these numbers important? It’s where the maximum torque figure is delivered, and that’s at a very high 5300 rpm. What does this mean for a daily driver? We’ll come back to that.

What you’ll find inside and out is a mix of the quality buyers expect from the Korean car maker. There’s Kia’s three modes for driving (Eco, Sport, Normal), safety in the form of Electronic Stability Control, Vehicle Stability Management, Hill Start Assist Control, and even the Euro style Emergency Stop Signal. Front and rear parking sensors, rear view camera with parking guidance, auto headlights, curtain airbags as standard and pre-tensioning seatbelts add to the package.2016-kia-sorento-si-rearSorento has been a solid looking car and the 2017 model year version is no different. The Si rolls on a set of 17 inch alloys, bolted to a 2780 mm wheelbase. Overall length is 4780 mm, just slightly shorter than Kia’s brilliant Optima but stands at 1690 mm, giving the Sorento an imposing presence. A slight makeover for the current model involved a broadening of Kia’s signature “tiger nose” grille, a freshening of the front and rear whilst largely remaining the same in profile. Rolling stock is 235/65 Kumho Crugen rubber on those ten spoke alloys.2016-kia-sorento-si-wheelInside, it’s cloth seats (all seven of them), with the rear two and centre three folding flat by virtue of a pull strap (rear) and a handle mounted in the base (centre). They’re easy to deploy at the rear and only slightly less so in the middle. Raising the centre seats is a bit more of a problem and for the slightly built it could be a struggle. There’s plenty of padding and support up front in the seats themselves, allowing both comfort and security for the passengers, and the rear row also gets separate air conditioning.2016-kia-sorento-si-centre-row-seatsThe cabin’s upper dash is a swathe of black textured plastic, with a curve running from each door to around and underneath the windscreen and highlighted by a grey plastic wood trim. It’s good looking and feels soft enough to the fingers. Underneath it’s the smooth, more matte than gloss, plastic and the typical synergystic ergonomics expected. There’s little thought needed to where your fingers need to go as once you’ve eyeballed the layout, it’s instinctive as to what you do.2016-kia-sorento-si-dashThe steering wheel houses the usual array of cruise control, Bluetooth and audio controls, and is thick enough to impart a feeling of security and control when under way. The material feels like leather and is cool to the touch. The Si uses a standard key for starting, rather than the push button system found elsewhere in the range. The actual steering feel was lighter than expected but also didn’t feel over assisted on the road.2016-kia-sorento-si-cargo-22016-kia-sorento-si-cargoAt the rear there’s the aforementioned third row of seats, with their separate aircon zoning. With these and the centre row seats up, you’ll have 320 litres of cargo. Lay them flat and that jumps to 1077 litres. If you’ve just bought a new flatscreen tv and need some extra room, the middle row goes down and cargo goes up to an astonishing 2066 litres. You’ll also see an extra USB and 12V port pair.2016-kia-sorento-si-rear-usb-and-12v

Ride and handling surprised in the stiffness of the suspension; the square kerbs in A Wheel Thing’s suburb provided a unique opportunity to test the suspension’s suppleness. Bearing in mind the Si is two and front wheel drive, not all wheel drive, the Sorento would “cock a leg” coming off the verge and kerbs at an angle. However, that stiffness added to the stability and handling characteristics of the Sorento, ensuring any driver will feel the car is firmly planted on the road. There’s just enough give in the suspension’s setup to allow for the normal lumps, bumps, and ripples to be dialled out for the sake of comfort.2016-kia-sorento-si-frontBack to the engine: it’s a free spinner when required and does actually move the two tonnes, when loaded, away well enough. Sink the slipper and although there’s a cost in economy, there’s an engaging and throaty roar, coupled with the swift and smooth changes of ratios. It’s not raucous yet has a metallic keen and it’s not thrashy yet there’s a sonorous buzz as revs climb.

The transmission itself is actually more smooth in its changes when pushed than when under light load. The changes are more noticeable, feel as if they take longer yet become invisible under a heavy throttle. There’s the manual shift option for the selector however Kia has elected not to fit paddle shifts.2016-kia-sorento-si-front-seatsAt The End Of The Drive.
Kia make damned nice cars, there’s no doubt about that. The perception of the brand IS increasing and slowly not being seen as a cheap Korean alternative but rather a maker of quality vehicles. There’s some great concepts and variations hopefully on the way but until Kia addresses the consumption figures, there’ll be a wariness from buyers. A Wheel Thing has just spent time with a HSV V8 powered vehicle, with an engine capacity of 6.2L up front. That finished on an average of 12.0L per 100 km, which puts the quoted figures of the Sorento Si under the spotlight. And with a driveaway price of just over $45K catching the eye of many families, fuel costs are a consideration.
For further details, go here: Kia’s 2016 Sorento