Kia has just launched its latest Sorento in South Africa. CAR journalist Kelly Lodewyks drove the latest addition to this Korean family.
Exterior and interior features
There hasn’t been a major exterior overhaul. In fact, at first glance it looks like a mere facelift. But the changes are substantial. New Sorento features a revised body that packs an extra 30 mm legroom in the middle row and an additional 9 mm in the third row. Rigidity has gone up by 18 per cent. Finally, the roof height has been reduced by 10 mm. Visually, changes include revised front and rear bumpers with vertical-axis foglamps, new grille and headlamps with LED positioning lights and a new tailgate with reshaped LED combination lamps.
I climbed into the AWD version, which has seven seats, first and found that access to the third row is relatively easy. Also, this model benefits from heated and ventilated front seats, 19-inch alloys, xenon headlamps, smart entry with engine stop/start, the FlexSteer system that allows the driver to choose between normal, sport and comfort settings, a rear safety camera and self-leveling suspension.
On the road
On start-up, I noticed how quiet the 2,2-litre diesel unit is. This engine produces 147 kW and 436 N.m of torque, and the power delivery is strong right from the start and hauls this large vehicle around with ease. The six-speed automatic gearbox is smooth and holds onto gears long enough for there to be a strong build-up in speed.
The launch route included a stretch of gravel road with some twisty bits, so the ride and handling were well tested. The Sorento, which is quite firmly sprung, felt slightly unsettled over the bumpy roads and under hard braking, while there’s also a bit of body roll through the corners. But, the Sorento is a big car (4 685 mm long, 1 700 mm high, 1 885 mm wide) so this behaviour should be judged in context. The steering is a bit vaguer than I would ideally like, but it’s not as bad as experienced on previous Kia models. It simply takes some getting used to.
The AWD drivetrain sends all the torque to the front wheels while out and about in normal city driving. Up to 50 per cent of this torque is automatically transferred to the rear wheels should the front wheels lose grip.
This new Sorento certainly builds on the reputation that Kia has set with many of its recent cars. It may not be that much cheaper than the competition, but it definitely offers a lot in terms of standard features and specification. As is the case with the new Hyundai Santa Fe, the Sorento provides a very impressive offering for those who want the versatility and practicality of a large, spacious SUV, but not necessarily the off-road ability of a Fortuner or Trailblazer. It should do very well.
Price: R479 995
Engine: 2,2-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel
Power: 147 kW at 3 800 r/min
Torque: 436 N.m at 1 800 r/min
0-100 km/h: 9,9 seconds
Top speed: 190 km/h
Maintenance plan: 5 years/100 000 km
*Manufacturer’s claimed figures
For more information on the new Kia Sorento, click here.