kia sorento gtline 10
kia sorento gtline 10

Kia Sorento: it’s not clear cut

Riley Riley


What is it?

Sorento is a rather pleasant weekend escape on the Mornington Peninsula about 90 minutes outside Melbourne.

It’s also the name of Kia’s big kahuna down under, in the absence of its bigger Telluride.

Sorento is a large 7-seat SUV and in this case has a big petrol V6 under the bonnet, but a surprisingly economical one.

Wanna diesel? It will cost you another $3500.

It’s usually our preferred means of motivation when it comes to large SUVs, but the Kia is one of the few SUVs where the choice is not clear cut.


What’s it cost?

Sorento starts at $42,990 plus on-roads for the two-wheel drive 3.5 Si with an auto.

It’s followed by Sport, SLi and GT-Line grades, with a choice of petrol or turbo diesel engines, and some are two and others all-wheel drive.

Our test vehicle, the two-wheel drive 3.5 GT-Line goes for $55,490, while the GT-Line with a diesel and all-wheel drive tips the scales at $58,990.

Premium paint adds $595.

Sorento is 4800mm long, 1890mm wide and 1690mm high, with a 2780mm wheelbase.

It’s sits low to the ground for a vehicle that is ostensibly designed to go off road, with ground clearance of just 185mm.

But we can’t see too many people actually taking the wagon off road and we never really entertained the idea either.

One look at the side steps is enough to put you off, as they are highly likely to come back with a dent in them.

Sorento is a muscular looking wagon, with fat rubber, sporty honeycomb style radiator grille and powerful V6 engine that hits hard when you ask it the question.

It’s roomy inside, with good legroom for second row passengers and two good-sized seats that form the third row, with rear air vents and controls to keep the kids from getting car sick.

Sorento rides on 19 inch alloys, with 235/55 series rubber and packs a full size alloy spare in the back.

The exterior features ice cube style LED fog lights, like those that debuted with the Pro_cee’d GT, red brake calipers, flashy side steps, and GT Line badging to distinguish it from other models.

Safety includes six airbags, rear camera, overhead camera, front and rear sensors, blind spot alert, rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist and autonomous emergency braking (AEB).

Standard equipment includes electric sunroof, power tailgate, active cruise control, second row sunshades, LED lights front and back, as well as interior LED lighting, with three 12 volt power outlets, two USB charge ports, plus Kia’s latest 8.0-inch infotainment system with built-in navigation, digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Harman/Kardon 640-watt audio is standard, with 10-speakers and QuantumLogic Surround Sound technology extracting signals from the original recording, redistributing them into an authentic, multi-dimensional soundstage.


What’s it go like?

The 3.5-litre petrol V6 is good for 206kW of power and 336Nm of torque, the latter from 5000 revs.

It’s hooked up to an 8-speed auto, with paddle shifts, but unlike the diesel this one is front-wheel drive.

There’s four drive modes from which to choose: Comfort, Eco, Sport, Smart (the latter seems to alternate between comfort and sport depending on input from the accelerator).

It’s a smooth, consummate performer that is easy to drive with plenty in reserve when the occasion calls for it.

The seats are armchair comfy, heated and cooled with a heated steering wheel for cold mornings.

Initially, we felt the dash with its single, centred analogue dial was a bit cluttered, especially as it displayed miles as well as kilometres per hour.

But of course it’s really a hi-tech LCD display that can be configured to your liking, including the removal of the aforementioned miles.

Punch the accelerator and the wagon takes off with a small squeal from the front wheels and healthy rasp from the dual exhaust outlet.

Your speed is displayed digitally and the satnav warns of school zones and fixed speed cameras which is comforting.

Sorento sits nicely on the road, with the occasional tug from the lane keep assist system.

The 8-speed auto delivers timely changes and is no doubt a big contributor to the surprisingly low fuel consumption.

Rated at 10.0L/100km we were getting 9.4 from the 71-litre tank after 450km.

The diesel we drove previously returned 8.3L/100km.

So you can see why we say the decision is not a clear cut one.

For a large SUV we were disappointed to find Sorento can tow only 2000kg, whether in diesel or petrol guise, and this could be a limiting factor for punters who haul big vans.


What we like?

  • Comfy
  • Powerful
  • Economical
  • Rear air outlets
  • Third row packs flat
  • Harman/Kardon audio


What we don’t like?

  • Nothing much
  • Lacks heads up display
  • Can tow only 2000kg


The bottom line?

If you’re in the market for a large, fully featured, 7-seat SUV, then the Sorento is a difficult vehicle to pass up. It may not have the badge, but it’s got everything else.

CHECKOUT: Tell Kia you want the Telluride

CHECKOUT: Kia Sportage: nice but not right now


Kia Sorento 3.5 GT-Line, priced from $55,490
  • Looks - 8/10
  • Performance - 8/10
  • Safety - 8/10
  • Thirst - 7.5/10
  • Practicality - 7.5/10
  • Comfort - 8/10
  • Tech - 8/10
  • Value - 7.5/10

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