I’m writing this review the very week that Holden is farewelling Australia after 164 years of operation.
From the very comfortable driver’s seat of the Kia Sorento GT-Line, I’m sorry to say that I am completely convinced that Holden’s demise was avoidable.
This is the second Kia that I’ve driven in recent weeks and with another coming in a few week’s time, I’m very much looking forward to returning to what is a very enjoyable environment.
The Kia Sorento GT-Line is a diesel powered seven-seat SUV that sits somewhere between the mid and large segments – so a little larger than a Volkswagen Tiguan for comparison. So let’s see what’s what…
|Life Style||Life Stage||Safety||On The Road|
|Urban, Value for Money, Luxury||100%|
As I found with the Kia Stinger 200S a few weeks ago, the Sorento GT-Line is a very comfortable, safe, and I have to say luxurious place to be. The GT-Line sits at the top of the Sorento line so you don’t expect it to be barren.
Slipping behind the lovely, chunky leather steering wheel and into the 12-way powered, heated (and cooled!) leather seats, I again have to wonder why anyone would not buy one of these if you have around $60K to spend on a 7-seat SUV.
The driving position is excellent and with the massive panoramic sunroof, the sense of space is tremendous. The specific sense of space that I think the Sorento does very well is the sense of width in the cabin. Often you can sit in what from the outside looks like it will be a really large, roomy cabin, only to find you feel like you’re sitting on the lap of your passengers. Not in the Sorento. This width is further reflected in the seat controls on the driver’s side of the front passenger seat making adjustments for the rear passengers really simple. What a brilliant idea!
Access to every control of the Sorento is extremely well thought out with the usual gaggle of controls on each side of the steering wheel – which also includes the gear-shift paddles that come in very handy on large diesel-powered SUVs that tend to be very hard on brakes.
At the top of the central console sits an 8 inch touchscreen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto compatibility. The harman/kardon sound system runs through 10 speakers and is really impressive. Right up there with some of the best systems fitted to comparable German models costing triple the money.
A number of 12V and USB plugs ensure everyone’s devices are at 100% when you arrive at your destination. A very large central storage box with two cup holders and centre arm-rest set off the interior impressively.
I don’t know why, but I love the START/STOP buttons on the Kias.
Dual-zone climate control air-conditioning – as you would expect – is standard on the GT-Line. On a particularly hot day of Saturday sport in Western Sydney it was able to cool the cabin very quickly. What really impressed me was the cooling ventilation of the front seats. A joyous addition to any car in Australia from November to February. I’m sure the heated second-row of seats will be very welcome in June and July – another really well thought out addition to the Sorento GT-Line.
Speaking of the rear passengers the room back there is plentiful for legs and shoulders and heads. Along with climate control vents, there are USB and 12V sockets to keep the kids’ devices all charged and integrated window blinds cut the glare and heat massively on hot Summer afternoons.
The 3rd row of seats in the Sorento like most mid/large-sized SUVs is for the little ones and restricts the storage space significantly – although not completely like the old Land Rover Discovery and BMW X5 used to do. A third row is pointless without some luggage space. With the third-row of seats stowed the luggage space is more than ample with storage bins on the wheel arches allowing you to make use of what is typically dead-space.
Auto-folding mirrors are standard although the Sorento does lack the auto-dipping feature when reverse gear is selected (top of my ‘Must-Have’ list).
At night the interior lighting is excellent with lights in all sorts of places to provide excellent visibility in the front and back of the car as well as the boot space and on the electronic powered tailgate. All the dash and steering wheel lights are back-lit in red which looks great!
All-in-all the interior of the Kia Sorento GT-Line is right up there with the best in terms of space, comfort, convenience and practicality.
The exterior design of all Kias have a very distinctive look about them. Their chief designer Peter Schreyer decreed in 2010 that “…it’s very important that you are able to recognise a Kia at first sight.”
Peter knows a thing or two about exterior styling. He has the Audi TT, A6, the Volkswagen Golf, Eos, and New Bettle in his portfolio and you can see the Germanic styling influence in all Kias today – especially the Sorento I think.
The bonnet and nose are high and imposing. The LED headlights are self-levelling with integrated washed and feature Dynamic Bending Light where the headlights move up to 15º as you turn the steering wheel. This feature is speed and vehicle pitch dependant which is very useful.
A high window line ensures the styling of the Sorento is carried from the front to the rear and adds significantly to the 5 Star ANCAP rating.
At the rear, more LED lights ensure that your movements are communicated to the drive behind. The ground-clearance is excellent from front to back and the Active AWD system does have a lock mode for the centre differential.
Parking sensors at the font and rear are mated to cameras on all sides giving an excellent 360º view on 8 inch touch-screen when parking.
On The Road
What the Sorento has in spades in terms of design, luxury, and build quality, it lacks somewhat out on the road.
The 8 speed automatic transmission is mated to a diesel powered 2.2 litre CRDi 16 valve engine that’s producing 147kW at 3,800 rpm. Plenty of torque from right down low in the rev range however, the engine does lack some finesse and is very audible in the cabin. Thankfully the harmon/kardon sound system drowns it out somewhat.
The Sorento GT-Line tips the scales at 1,985kg which is not brilliant and mostly thanks to the diesel engine up front. Filling the 71 litre tank from empty is very evident as the mass that is being hauled around by the engine takes some time to gain momentum.
Around town the Sorento is very capable and not being a full-sized SUV means it’s a little more nimble in car-parks and on the high street for parking. All diesel motors are thirsty in urban environments and this one is no different. We saw around 11 L/100km in town which dropped to around 6 L/100km when we got rolling on the freeway. Overall a figure of 8.6 L/100km was achieved for the week we had the Sorento.
It was out on the freeways west of Sydney that we got to make use of all the driver-aids that are packed onto the Sorento GT-Line. Firstly there was the Blind Spot Detection followed by the Lane Keep Assist which was occasionally a little too sensitive.
The real gem though was the Smart Cruise Control system that has the active steering feature like we saw on the Volvo XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered a few weeks ago. This on a sub-sixty thousand dollar SUV is very impressive. It is equally impressive in the real-world as it keeps you always perfectly positioned in your lane on the freeway. On B-roads its a little less perfect as it ‘searches’ for the edge of the road.
Finally the other area of note on the Sorento is the brakes. On more than one occasion I didn’t have all the confidence in the brakes that I was expecting. Thankfully never in an emergency, I did have to push the brake pedal with a little more pressure than I had anticipated. The flashy red brake callipers would do well to be replaced with Brembos like Kia has fitted to the upper model Stinger.
Who Will Love This Car?
With the exception of the Ferrari Portofino and the Lamborghini Huracán EVO, I tend to look at all the cars we review through the prism of the ‘real-world’.
The Kia Sorento GT-Line is about as real-world as it gets. An extremely well appointed upper-mid SUV with 7 seats and an interior packed with panache and practicality. I know for sure that had the Kia Sorento GT-Line been around a decade ago, it would have saved me from a troublesome Audi Q7.
Whilst it is let down by its engine and its mass, this has to be on the consideration list of any family at that stage of looking for more room and better value for money that you might get from a European marque – and that’s what Holden completely missed as it continued to build large, thirsty sedans and wagons for a bygone era.
As tested in Silky Silver the Kia Sorento GT-Line is currently $62,614.75 drive-away.