What is it?
The Sorento is a large, 7-seat luxury SUV with three rows of seats and you soon realise the goods behind the Kia badge are top class.
The brand is part of the third largest car manufacturer on the planet and they do things with precision and comprehensive entirety.
Just open the door and look at the quality of the finish: it’s definitely got the wow factor.
What’s it cost?
There’s nearly $20K between the entry S and flagship $65,000 GT-Line all-wheel drive diesel, as reviewed.
They can also be had with 3.5-litre petrol power and there’s one model with manual transmission.
Cross-stitched, quilted Nappa leather trimmed, fully electric seats are gorgeous, as is the dash.
There’s an integrated info display and digital instrument cluster that is way ahead of those dated tablets.
The multi-function touchscreen is easy to use and covers all sort of features, from phone pairing to choosing the colour of ambient dash and door lighting.
How many shades can you choose from? 64!
Of course, it also has QI wireless phone fast charging, and every other smart item you can think of — plus a lot you’ve never thought possible.
Pop in behind the infinitely-adjustable steering, switch on and the display shows everything around the car, front camera, rear camera, bird’s eye view — the lot.
Touch the start button, the engine fires up and you’re ready to go.
But wait . . . there’s no gear lever.
Instead, this Kia has a knurled rotary switch which you turn left for reverse, right to drive.
It’s neat and liberates a lot more space than a conventional lever.
Indicate left and the rev counter turns into a camera showing traffic, like a bike or pedestrian, behind, and the speedo does the same trick when you indicate right.
Cruise control is spot-on and is the best I’ve ever driven.
The lightest of trail brake gently keeps you from being flashed at the bottom of Plod’s Alley, without having everyone inside nodding forward every few seconds as the brake kicks on and off.
The premium 12-speaker Bose audio system is sensational. The hearing in one of my ears is not quite right, but I could easily tell this was quality kit.
There’s a head-up display in the right spot that is coupled to the up-to-date satellite navigation multimedia system, with 10 years of traffic information and map updates.
And then there’s this . . .
Come out of the supermarket, trolley packed and head back to your car, only to find neighbouring vehicles parked so close to either side that you can’t get in.
No problemo, with the new Kia Sorento.
Just hold down the button on the key fob and the Kia starts up and ‘walks’ straight out to you all by itself, just like a well-trained labrador.
What a great feature. I didn’t see it mentioned in the owner’s manual, but then I didn’t read every single page — maybe because there’s 714 of them. True.
Also, as in the car park scenario, you can conceivably get out of the Sorento in the driveway and ‘walk’ it back into your cluttered garage.
It can slowly go forwards or backwards.
I eventually spotted this feature way down the multi-page features list.
It’s called RSPA, or in proper English, Smart key with Remote Smart Parking Assist.
I’m not aware of any other vehicle that has such a clever item.
What’s it go like?
The all-new wet, dual clutch 8-speed transmission was one thing I was particularly keen to experience.
I can honestly say it performs more like an automatic.
The shifts, by themselves or via paddles — are smooth and fast.
Change into one of the four drive modes (Comfort, Eco, Sport, Smart) and note the difference in the Sorento’s behaviour.
It’s an exceptionally well-engineered vehicle, taking in some of the rally-inspired Hyundai N across to its sport mode that changes the dash display to the same colours, and instantly sharpening dampers, revs and gear changes.
And then there are also three terrain modes: snow, mud, sand.
The 2.2-litre diesel motor with its 148kW/440Nm output has been extremely well matched to the new transmission and feels like a larger capacity motor as a result.
It can take the vehicle from 0 to 100km/h in better than 10 seconds. About 9.5, I reckon.
Our country run was a good test of road compliance and the Sorento made it too easy.
With lane assist switched off, you can smooth out the forward facing tech trying to look for lines that may not be on the road.
It’s a great feature in the city but can be lost on a country road.
The handling and damping for a seven seater of this size gives the Euros a run for their money.
The 20-inch machined alloy wheel and Continental tyre package does a great job at looking good and connecting the drive experience.
A quick online search for replacement tyres in this size happily reveals you won’t need to cancel your next holiday.
The cabin damping is another factor of note.
It’s so well insulated you can hold a conversation on a coarse chip country road without a problem.
Accommodation is in keeping with flagship quality, with a second row of seats that slide and recline, and even the split-fold rearmost row gets USB chargers and ventilation control.
Visibility is excellent in every direction but down.
Yep, there’s a lot of glass — and a full-length powered sunroof.
Sorento has undergone a subtle styling change, mainly at the front, where the ‘tiger nose’ grille has a black surround and the body has more muscular lines.
At the back, the tailgate knows when you’re approaching with a trolley full of stuff from Aldi and obediently opens.
No need to do the Charleston with your size 9s under the back bumper.
Boot space is generous with up to 2011 litres available with both rear-seat rows folded down.
The official fuel consumption figure is 6.1L/100km and we averaged an impressive 8.1 on our mixed drive route.
Sorento, like all other Kias, comes with a seven-year, unlimited distance factory warranty and roadside assistance.
What we like?
- Multiple features
- Performance and handling
What we don’t like?
The bottom line?
It’s a great time to be a consumer.
There’s no denying this is as close as you get to cutting edge motoring.
You can pay a hell of a lot more for a Euro, but you won’t get much better in this class.
Sorento is the complete package.
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Kia Sorento GT-Line CRDi AWD, priced from $63,070
- Looks - 8.5/108.5/10
- Performance - 8.5/108.5/10
- Safety - 8.5/108.5/10
- Thirst - 8.5/108.5/10
- Practicality - 8.5/108.5/10
- Comfort - 8.5/108.5/10
- Tech - 8.5/108.5/10
- Value - 8.5/108.5/10