Kia Sorento Review and First Drive

by under Review, SUV, 4x4, family on 04 Jun 2015 09:19:35 PM04 Jun 2015
FROM $40,990
Fuel Consumption
FROM 7.8L/100km

Classy looks inside and out; lots of interior space; excellent quality; value


Steering is a bit too light in ‘Eco’

American actor Pierce Brosnan returns to his James Bond image in the creative global television commercial for the all-new Kia Sorento under the headline of ‘Ready For Any Mission’. After a full day behind the wheel we’d add: ‘with more luxury and refinement than ever before’.


Because while previous Kia Sorentos have been excellent full-size SUVs, the all-new third  generation model introduces new levels of refinement, technology and interior space. Priced from just $40,990 and backed by Kia’s industry-best seven year warranty, seven year roadside assistance and seven year capped price servicing; the all-new Kia Sorento also challenges the best for value.

With a strong product portfolio, Kia sales in Australia are up by more than 9.0 per-cent so far this year – helped by the launch of the all-new Carnival people mover and now the all-new Sorento which are both aimed at family buyers. “New product is oxygen of our business and the Carnival and Sorento will play key roles as we target growth this year of around 10 per-cent which will mean sales of more than 31,000 vehicles,” explained Kia Australia chief Damien Meredith.


Kia Sorento Overview

This is the third generation Sorento which is Kia’s international full-size SUV. Based on the same platform as the Carnival people mover, the Sorento is very much a vehicle for the North American market where it sells in big numbers.

The all-new Kia Sorento is exclusively a seven-seater in Australia and boasts sophisticated new looks overseen by the company’s acclaimed head of styling German Peter Schreyer. It’s also significantly larger than the outgoing model which translates into much more interior space (again influenced by North America).


There’s a new V6 petrol engine or an improved 2.2-litre turbo-diesel and inside the style and luxury have been lifted to new levels.

As usual, Kia brings the all-new Sorento to market with three model grades – entry-level Si, mid-grade SLI and the range-topping Platinum which is only offered with the turbo-diesel engine.

The lineup looks like this:

Model Petrol Diesel
Si $40,990 $44,490
SLi $45,990 $49,490
Platinum n/a  $55,990

Kia Sorento Engine

Headlining the powerplants for the all-new Kia Sorento is a new 3.3-litre ‘Lambda II’ V6 petrol engine. It’s good for 199kW of power at 6400rpm and peak torque of 318Nm at 5300rpm. The V6 is impressively refined at all speeds and rates at 9.9l/100kms for combined-cycle fuel consumption.

Turbo-diesel power comes from a heavily revised version of Kia’s ‘R2.2’ 2.2-litre four-cylinder. Maximum power is 147kW at 3800rpm and peak torque of 441Nm is available between 1750-2750rpm and combined-cycle fuel consumption scores 7.8l/100kms.


Both engines drive through a six-speed automatic transmission and Kia’s ‘Dynamax’ all-wheel-drive system which is fully active in torque distribution and includes torque vectoring. There’s also a centre differential lock for use in tough off-road and snow/sand driving.

Kia specialists will note a slight rise in fuel consumption for the Sorento turbo-diesel. Kia says this is caused by revised protocols adopted to ensure both engines meet the tough Euro5 standards for emissions.

Kia Sorento The Interior

Here’s an example of how much Kia has ramped-up the technology and luxury for the all-new Sorento: the range-topping Platinum boasts leather seats, a wood-look steering wheel and heated seats for both the front and second row. Not so handy in the 29-degree warmth of winter in Port Douglas, FNQ for the media launch but sure to be appreciated in the bracing winter of the southern states.

Up-front is a nicely shaped dashboard and very slick twin-gauge instrumentation for the driver. Between those gauges is a slick screen (3.5-inch mono LCD for Si, 7-inch colour TFT for SLi and Platinum).


The nicely styled steering wheel adjusts for rake and reach for an excellent driving position. That is aided by eight-way electronic adjustment with two-way lumbar support in SLi and 10-way electronic adjustment in Platinum with four-way lumbar support.

Second row seats have 60:40 sliding and recline functions and split-fold 40:20:40. There’s also a clever second row sliding ‘walk-in’ function on the left side.

Some Kia Sorento Platinum models can be optioned with black and stone two-colour interior leather seats. We drove one of these cars and the combination looked brilliant.

And there’s a lot more interior room – front row up by 25mm and the second row by 15mm (the latter also helped by a flat floor). Third row passengers enjoy 15mm more headroom.


Luggage space too is massively larger – with all seven seats used it’s up by 62-litres to 320-litres. In five-seat configuration the capacity is 1077-litres and with the second row also folded (easily done from the rear via a one-touch lever) it’s an incredible 2066-litres.


Kia Sorento Exterior & Styling

Kia’s styling team under the watchful eye of German guru Peter Schreyer has delivered a knockout look for the all-new Sorento which has some familiarity to the all-new carnival people mover. Most of the crayon work was done at the Korean studios in Namyang but there was plenty of input from the European team in Frankfurt as well as the North American team in Irvine, California.

There are still some cues (for example the hallmark D-pillars and rear-end) to immediately identify the newcomer as a Sorento. But with a higher beltline and swept-back shape, the overall look is contemporary, bolder and dynamic.


It is noticeably larger – 95mm longer overall at 4780mm and the wheelbase is 80mm longer at 2780mm. All-new Kia Sorento is also 5.0mm wider at 1890mm but is lower by 45mm at 1690mm.

At the front is a muscly and more upright version of Kia’s ‘tiger nose’ grille which features a three-dimensional diamond pattern with roots to Kia’s 2013 Cross GT concept car. The sleek new headlights have the modern wraparound look and we like the bold fog lights (we don’t get the ‘ice-cube’ fog-lights fitted to the American Sorento used in the Pierce Brosnan TV commercial).

The rear continues the bolder treatment with prominent shoulders and a stylized surround for the numberplate surround made possible by new laser welding which makes weld lines invisible. 


Kia Sorento On The Road

Our full-day drive route took us from the coast near Port Douglas in FNQ, inland through Atherton and back with some gravel sections along the way. Your correspondent got behind the wheel a Kia Sorento turbo-diesel in Platinum grade and a petrol SLi.

No doubt about Kia’s local suspension development. Some of the roads up north are on the ‘rugged’ side of ‘smooth’ and the Sorento showed nice refinement over the bumps and on the gravel sections (from past experience we’d suggest the domestic Korean calibration would have been too soft in those conditions.


Through the twisty stuff (in the ‘Sport’ setting) we liked the positive turn-in initially and the mid-turn balance. Exiting corners the Kia Sorento was unfazed by the odd bump or imperfection and put the power down without drama.

With both petrol and diesel versions of the Kia Sorento were impressively refined at cruising speeds (just a little tyre noise on coarse ship surfaces) our preference at the end of the day was the V6.The petrol model weighs-in at 1875kgs to 1985kgs for the diesel and that reduced weight meant the V6 was just a little livelier in acceleration and a touch more dynamic when cornering.

Kia Sorento Issues

We like the idea of Kia’s new rack-mounted electric power steering – a very sophisticated system which showcases the Korean giant’s world-class engineering. In the Sorento, while the feedback is good we reckon its feel is just a smidge too light.


Kia Sorento Verdict

We know rival automotive companies are watching Kia very closely. The Korean giant is wheeling out world-class products and enjoying strong sales in Europe and North America (as well as at home in Korea of course).

The all-new Sorento is a perfect example of why Kia has the opposition worried. Peter Schreyer’s influenced has imbued Kia products with a strong design influence and the Koreans are right at the top of the game for engineering and technology – we’re talking world-class in every way.


In Australia that engineering is bolstered by the local suspension enhancement engineering which delivers unique tuning for our roads. The results are obvious.

For the all-new Sorento that all packages into a very impressive full-size seven seat SUV which challenges to be the best in its segment.  And Kia being Kia the prices and after-sales support are both spot-on.

All good reasons why you should put the all-new Sorrento at the top of your shopping list.


Kia Sorento The Competition

Nissan Pathfinder looms as one rival for the all-new Kia Sorento. Starting from $39,990 the latest Pathfinder is much more refined in the looks and driving than earlier models and boasts impressive interior style.

And from sister company the Hyundai Santa Fe should also be in the consideration set. We like the looks of the Santa Fe; it is certainly well equipped and drives well. And as usual, Hyundai has he pricing razor sharp, starting from $38,490.

Mazda’s CX-9 is getting on and there are rumours of an all-new model – presumably with ‘SkyActiv’ everything - in 2016. The current version is a little pricey, starting from $43,770 but it is spacious inside and powered by a lusty 3.7-litre V6 petrol engine.

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