$37,490 – $50,390
Good: The Sorento – smart styling; excellent Turbo Diesel engine; high levels of standard features & safety equipment; value for money.
Not so Good: Firm ride over rougher surfaces; third row seats are really only ‘kid friendly’; 2.4-litre petrol engine must work hard.
Design and Engineering
Good : Kia’s second generation Sorrento arrived in Australia late in 2009 and brought along some big changes – gone is the previous generation’s ‘old school’ ladder-frame chassis & separate body – in comes a monocoque (passenger car style) platform. With this change comes improvement in ride & handling (necessary for a 21st century urban family vehicle). The exterior styling is also entirely modern, and yet adheres to Kia’s successful new design direction.
Not so good : 4×4 purists may deride the move to a car-based platform (however they now only make up a tiny per cent of SUV buyers, so the change to become an improved all ’rounder is the correct way forward according to the marketing department).
Interior and Styling
Good : This interior is a huge leap forward over the previous Sorento – the dash design is modern, with all the buttons logically laid out and easy to use. Seven seats are standard across the range and the second and third rows also have air-conditioning vents (with the 3rd row having their own control knob). The fact that the seats can be chosen in the colour brown is another sign that Kia is becoming more confident with the brand’s new design direction…
Not so good : The interior plastics are less than premium, with most being of the hard, brittle-to-touch type. The third row seats are best for children only as there’s a lack of legroom space and as with most SUV’s cargo space is sacrificed when the third row seats are being used.
Good: The new 2.2-litre R-Series four-cylinder Turbo Diesel is an excellent engine – with 145kW of power & 436Nm of torque when matched to the six-speed auto transmission, it shames a number of far more expensive (not to mention, very well known) SUV’s. Not only is the diesel powerful, smooth and responsive, Kia also claims fuel combined economy figures of only 6.6 litres (manual) or 7.4 litres (auto), which for an almost two-tonne big SUV is very, very impressive.
Not so good : The entry-level grade makes do with a 2.4-litre Petrol unit, and its 128kW of power must work hard to shift the Sorento along.
Ride and Handling
Good : A significant improvement over the previous model – refined ride at freeway speeds and handling is what is expected of a largish SUV.
Not so good : The ride & handling combination is still a step behind the best Large SUV’s. When hurried the Sorento is prone to excessive understeer and the ride is not the most composed over rough bitumen… However, for this class and its intended use, the Sorento’s results here are certainly no deal breaker.
Buying and Owning
Good : The smart money is with one of the excellent Turbo Diesel powered grades – and don’t forget the impressive fuel economy figures that’ll keep you grinning as you drive past yet another service station.
Not so good: Whilst good value for money, the top of the range Platinum grade is at the price ceiling of Kia’s current range – so is unlikely to have the best resale value.