Kia's All-New Mid-Size SUV Set To Challenge The Best
Style. Kia has it - arguably more so than any other Korean brand - and style is driving the company's future new products (a staggering 20 due between now and 2012).
Enter the all-new 2010 Sorento and after putting Kia's mid-size SUV through its paces, Car Showroom - like our media colleagues - was struggling to find anything to criticise.
Really - it's that good. And there's two more items of positive news for buyers in the mid-size SUV segment - new Sorento is Kia's fist seven-seat SUV and its pricing starts from a very competitive $36,490.
What You Get
Larger, lower and sleeker than its predecessor, the all-new Sorento meets the challenges of its well-credentialed segment rivals head on. A new diesel powerplant, new six-speed automatic transmission, more interior space and enhanced fuel economy/emissions are just a few of the key points.
Add to that 5-star Euro NCAP safety and you get the picture: this new Kia ticks a lot of boxes for a lot of SUV buyers.
And, like Ford and Mitsubishi, Kia has brought extra versatility to the SUV segment with the new Sorento available in both two-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive.
Under The Hood
Kia says it has reacted to market forces in downsizing the engines available for the new Sorento. While the North American market continues with a V6 petrol powerplant, Kia Australia has jettisoned this engine and gone with a 2.4-litre four cylinder and new R2.2-litre turbo-diesel.
Developed by Kia's Engineering Centre of Excellence in Russelsheim, Germany, the new R2.2-litre four cylinder turbo-diesel features an electronic variable geometry turbocharger.
Crucial for the Sorento's success in the massive European market, the new diesel is a third generation common rail design and to save weight, plastic is used for the intake manifold, cylinder head cover and oil filter housing.
Maximum power is 145kW at 3,800 rpm and peak torque of 422 Nm is available between 1,800 rpm and 2,500 rpm (manual transmission). Automatic models get 436Nm of torque.
In terms of power, that accounts for all segment rivals except the Mitsubishi Pajero (147kW) and for torque, the Sorento is only beaten by the Jeep Cherokee (460Nm), Pajero (441Nm) and Land Rover Discovery (440Nm).
Fuel economy is as low as 6.7l/100kms (manual) or 7.4l/10kms (auto).
It's a similar story with emissions where again Kia is claiming a class-leading performance with 177g/km.
Kia's petrol alternative is the 2.4-litre DOHC four-cylinder 'Theta II' engine, an all-alloy design with upgraded electronics and low friction components for enhanced performance and fuel economy.
With dual continuous valve timing (intake and exhaust) and dual silent timing chains, this high-tech current generation engine delivers 128kW of power at 6,000 rpm and peak torque of 226Nm at 3,750 rpm. Compared to the previous Sorento, emissions are down by 30 per cent to 219g/km and fuel economy is improved by 12 per cent to 9.2l/100kms.
Entry to the Sorento family comes in the form of a new model named Si which is available in two-wheel-drive (front wheels) with the petrol engine and new in-house developed six-speed automatic transmission. All other models are all-wheel-drive and Si diesel is available with either six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions.
The twin six-speed transmission strategy is another example of Kia's engineering proficiency and reflects its global sales plans.
The auto is a superb piece of engineering, said to be the world's lightest and most compact six-speed automatic. It is 54mm shorter and weighs 12 kilos less than Kia's five-speed auto.
Economy is boosted by an innovative 'Neutral Control' feature which unobtrusively shifts the transmission from 'D' to 'N' whenever the Sorento is stationary for more than a few seconds - the reduced engine load delivering enhanced fuel economy and less emissions.
Sorento's all-wheel-drive system transmits varying amounts of power to the rear wheels in slippery conditions. A driver-select '4WD LOCK' switch distributes equal power (50/50) to front and rear wheels for tough conditions.
Highlighted by its seven seat capacity, the all new Sorento presents a very comprehensive interior finished in high quality cloth or leather trim. The feeling of quality matches the very best of Japanese and local rivals.
New Sorento is more spacious inside - the 'hip-point' for the front and second rows has been lowered by 37mm and the cabin floor is 32mm. The tailgate glass has been shifted rearwards by 70mm and this has delivered increased luggage space and also assisted the provision of impressive legroom for the third row passengers.
Luggage space as a five seater has grown to 531 litres (96 litres more than the previous generation) and a massive 1525 litres with both second and third rows folded flat.
The thick four-spoke steering wheel is now a Kia standard and with adjustment for rake and reach plus electronic adjustment for the front seats in SLi and range-topping Platinum models, a good driving position is achievable.
We reckon the three-cylinder instrument cluster (also used in Kia's Cerato models) is very stylish.
Reversing sensors come with SLi and Platinum models although only the Platinum gets a reversing camera as standard.
Standard audio is a six speaker MP3/iPod compatible CD system. SLi and Platinum models get an upgraded system with in-dash six CD changer and extra speakers.
Platinum models also secure a massive two-part panoramic clear glass sunroof.
Exterior & Styling
Once again Kia's chief Stylist Peter Schreyer and his team have delivered a masterpiece - without doubt this is one of the best-looking mid-size SUVs on the market.
At the front, Kia's new trademark grille is accentuated by the black bezel wrap-around headlights, honeycomb mesh grille fog light housing and wide, two-tone bumper.
The side view has an upswept character line that promotes the wedge profile, while the rear is particularly attractive with LED tail-lights, a sporty diffuser style bumper and large roof-mounted rear spoiler.
On The Road
Significantly the all-new Sorento departs from the previous body-on-frame chassis architecture to modern monocoque construction with MacPherson strut front and independent multi-link rear suspension.
The difference in driving dynamics is like night and day. The all-new Sorrento is refined and noticeably sporty with firm ride, precise steering, sharp turn-in and good mid-corner balance.
Even on loose dirt, the standard Electronic Stability Program and Traction Control was unobtrusive when it cut in.
Acceleration is brisk and highway overtaking is easy.
The lack of factory-fit satellite navigation in any Kia sold in Australia remains baffling.
It was unanimous amongst the media who tested the all-new Sorento - Kia has done a sensational job with this vehicle which competes with the best in the ultra-competitive mid-size SUV segment.
Styling; driving dynamics; value
No satellite navigation; reversing camera should be standard across entire range