Kia’s big SUV recently had a facelift, albeit a minor one. But there are few improvements underneath as well that make it just that little bit more enticing.
Up front, for the petrol-fed version, is a 3.5-litre V6. The 3.3-litre has been consigned to the recycling bin. High rev numbers are needed for peak twist and power, with 5000 rpm is needed for the 336Nm — 6300rpm will be seen for the peak power rating of 206kW.
Transmission is an eight-speed auto driving the front wheels, and that’s it.
Economy figures from Kia are better than before, but there’s a slight twist. Its urban figure is 14.2L/100km, and 10.0L/100km for the combined cycle. After close to 400km in a mainly urban drive I finished on 8.7L/100km — from a 71L tank.
There is a diesel option, with a 2.2-litre capacity churning out a handy 441Nm between 1750 and 2750rpm if an oiler is your preference. Quoted economy goes to 7.2L/100km for the combined, and 9.2L/100km in the urban cycle. Decent numbers from a vehicle that weighs close to two tonnes dry.
Our test vehicle, the GT-Line has bendy LED lights up front, LED driving lights, and LED fog lights. LEDs also feature at the rear, bracketing the powered tailgate.
There’s been a refinement of the lower front bumper extremities to aid airflow, and the headlight clusters themselves are less edgy than the before, with an odd kink to the upper leading edge.
There are seven exterior colours available, all but one is metallic, which makes the extra $595 for metallic paint either a bargain for the big machine, or a questionable ask?
What’s it cost?
Sorento GT-Line with petrol engine starts from $55,490 plus on road costs. For the feature set and room, as it has seven seats, that’s extraordinary value — and really puts it up against the Carnival as a cost effective people mover choice.
That ask for metallic paint is, as stated, either a bargain, or not. A bargain because of the acreage of sheet metal the Sorento has. Or when there’s only one non-metallic paint option available, then you’re stuck for choice really. There’s even one GT-Line specific colour called Snow White Pearl.
For the safety features included in the GT-Line, the overall price does make it very cost effective. There’s Driver Attention Alert, Autonomous Emergency Braking, and a 360 degree camera for starters.
Forward Collision Warning System, Emergency Stoplight System, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Blind Spot Detection add to the package. Add in six airbags (no driver’s knee, though), seatbelt pre-tensioners and the usual traction control systems back these up.
Being a seven seater there’s tilt-and-fold and slide middle row and folding rear pews. Fold all flat and there’s over 1600 litres of cargo space on a flat floor.
Up front is grey stitched black leather on the heated and very comfy powered front chairs.
The driver looks into a binnacle filled with a full colour 7.0-inch HD LED display screen flanked by analogue dials. The whole dash itself is an exercise in ergonomics too, with Kia’s typical care and thoughtful planning.
Should you desire some extra feeling of space there’s a full length glass roof.
The centre dash holds an 8.0-inch touchscreen that houses a DAB, digital audio broadcast tuner. It lacks sensitivity and drops out in areas many other DAB fitted vehicles don’t — but there’s Bluetooth streaming, USB, (and a USB port for the rear seats too) and AUX inputs to compensate.
Being a family lifestyle car there’s plenty of cup and bottle holders. There are a couple of suit hangers, no shortage of storage space, and physical room for head, legs, shoulders, isn’t an issue.
What’s it go like?
Unlike many petrol cars Kia hasn’t dialled down the aural side. Although muted when driven gently, the V6 has a genuine, seriously sounding growl when provoked.
Upwards of 3000 rpm is where the mechanicals come together to stroke the eardrums. The eight speeder itself is mostly okay. However, the upper two cogs aren’t a happy mix for the engine’s characteristics.
Given the rev point for the maximum torque, you’d think it’s an ideal highway cruiser, and it is. Just not always in seventh or eighth. There’s a fair bit of indecision from the gearbox and although the changes are mostly unobtrusive — it’s not unnoticeable either.
Steering is light, but not that light a sneeze twirls the tiller. Tarmac manners are respectable but I decided to do something different. The petrol engine Sorento GT-Line is two wheel drive, not all wheel. But it’s an SUV, right? So the GT-Line was taken west, young man.
There are plenty of gravel tracks in the western area of the Blue Mountains that lead to our own “grand canyon”. And it’s fine.
It’ll handle the kind of terrain here with no issues, with a great ride quality, good stability, and decent enough isolation of the ruts and corrugations.
Rarely was the ABS troubled, meaning the engineering Kia’s Aussie team has built in is pretty much spot on, even for an environment it’s not likely to see.
The tyre and wheel combo is GT-Line specific at 235/55/19, so there’s a good footprint for grip and handling.
What we like?
Typical Kia build quality
Good looks and spacious interior
Very good fuel economy
What we don’t like?
DAB audio frustrations
Asking extra for metallic paint when that’s all there really is
Indecisive upper end gearing
The bottom line?
For a big people moving SUV, the Sorento GT-Line delivers a cohesive, well thought out, family friendly package. If regularly loading up with passengers and cargo then the diesel would be a more fuel efficient choice though.