Review: KIA Sorento – Award Winning Family Time
Like many KIAs of late, the Sorento recently went through a top-to-tail rework that has seen this 7-seater emerge as a very serious contender in the Large sub-$70K SUV category.
This is the fourth generation of the Sorento that we’ve seen in Australia. As you would expect given such a significant model upgrade this is the longest (4.8m), widest (1.8m), tallest (1.7m), and roomiest Sorento ever made that also tips the scales at 1,700kg.
Here in Australia, we get four models with a petrol and diesel variant of each. The petrol models get an old-fashioned 8-speed automatic transmission whilst the diesel models also get 8 speeds but in a Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) set-up.
- S (Petrol: $49,290* / Diesel: $52,290*)
- Sport (Petrol: $52,290* / Diesel: $55,290*)
- Sport+ (Petrol: $56,690* / Diesel: $59,690*)
- GT-Line (Petrol: $64,290* / Diesel: $67,290*)
* – Driveaway offers.
We’ve sampled the Sport+ diesel and the GT-Line diesel over the last few months including a long family trip from Sydney to Yamba and back – racking up more than 2,000kms with astonishing fuel consumption.
The Exterior Styling
The Sorento styling has always been rather conservative to my eye and at first, when I saw the new Sorento my initial thoughts were of a broken record. Now that I’ve spent a lot of time with a couple of Sorentos, the styling treatment internally and externally weaves a common thread throughout that is pleasing to the eye and your decision-making process if you purchase one.
The exterior styling of the latest Sorento brings it into line with the rest of the KIA model line-up which is exactly what makes this 7-seat SUV not unpleasing to the eye. In short – it’s all about the proportions.
At the front, the wrap-around LED headlights give way to a wide gloss-black ‘Tiger nose’ grille with polished chrome surrounds on the Sport+ and the GT-Line. This gives the Sorento a wide and stable stance. The 255/45 R20 dark chrome wheels and tyres on the GT-Line and 235/55 R19 machined alloys wheels and tyres on the Sport+ keep the track of the Sorento at the extremities of the body – providing solid and stable road-holding.
Both the Sport+ and the GT-Line have the same angular chin-spoiler treatment with integrated fog lights and sensors for the Advanced Smart Cruise Control. The parking sensors are conveniently located down low at the front to ensure kerbs, driveway flotsam & jetsam, and tow-bars are easily spotted.
The design and structure of the front is also geared to maximise safety with the Sorento easily receiving a 5-Star ANCAP rating.
From the side profile, further styling elements extend towards the rear. A chrome accent below the body-coloured side mirrors gives the impression of an external hinge (KIA calls it a ‘garnish’) and a chrome side strip runs below the doors. An additional garnish sits behind the C-pillar between the rear door and the tailgate. Again, a design differential that just works because I think it gives the rear of the Sorento a sense of height where the third-row of seats are and where all your luggage will go.
From the rear, the Sorento manages its height and width very well with an aerodynamic overhang on the rear window that houses the rear window wiper and reduces spray at high speed in the wet. The waistline at the rear is not overly high so the rear visibility is very good (until you fill the boot space with luggage!).
Vertical LED brake and indicator lights make clever use of the space down to the top of the wheel arches that in turn make the tailgate opening wide and low for easy loading. Speaking of the tailgate the button for the power tailgate on the Sport+ and GT-Line is located below the SORENTO badging – about thigh-height – which is easy to reach even when your hands are full. Failing that the tailgate will open automatically if you have the key in your pocket and you stand at the rear of the car for 3 seconds.
Front to back. Side to side. The Sorento is a great looking car – like most KIAs today. But does this translate to the road and living with the Sorento?
I’m not going to apologise for the brevity of this part of my review. The pictures will tell the story.
What I will say is that for more than two thousand kilometres – many of them on a motorway – the Sorento was my protective shell, my chariot, and my very happy place. The rest of the family liked it a lot too!
- Seating for 7 (easy!)
- 10-way power driver’s seat (including 2-way lumbar support) on the Sport+
- 14-way power driver’s seat (including 4-way lumbar support and cushion extension) on the GT-Line
- 10.25″ colour LCD touch screen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto
- Heated and Ventilated front seats in the GT-Line (heated only on the Sport+) and heating for the outer rear passengers.
- 3 stage dual-zone climate control air-conditioning.
- Quilted Nappa leather on the GT-Line. Equally comfortable leather seats in the Sport+.
- Steering wheel controls for Cruise Control and the 12 speaker BOSE sound system in the GT-Line / 6 speakers in the Sport+
- Multi-mode driving and terrain selector system – Driving: Comfort, Eco, Sport, and Smart. Terrain: Snow, Mud, and Sand.
What’s The Sorento Like to Live With?
2,517 – that’s the number of combined kilometres that we travelled in the KIA Sorento Sport+ and the GT-Line over the space of a month. That’s a little more than Sydney to Cairns by road.
In that time we ran about in the city like most families do and we spent hours on mind-numbingly boring motorways eating up the miles to enjoy time out to recharge and refresh.
The KIA Sorento is easily one of the best family SUVs on the market in Australia and to me, it’s certainly no wonder that it has won so many awards – CarSales Car of The Year 2020, Drive Best Large SUV 2021, and Drive Overall Car of The Year 2021. My mate Bill Tuckey would certainly have approved of the Sorento.
The 2.2 litre in-line 4-cylinder 16 valve engines with Electronic Variable Geometry Turbochargers in both the Sport+ and the GT-Line are wonders around town and on the open road. They won’t win races off the lights or let you rapidly overtake on an open road, but they will get you to your destination with absolutely no fuss and if you’re good with the throttle and brake they will allow you to travel almost 2,000kms at an average fuel consumption of 6.9L/100km.
That’s 34MPG in the old money and also means you don’t see too many of these photos.
In the real world, the KIA Sorento treats you to a stunning array of practicalities and design thinking that are missing on SUVs costing twice and three times the price. Take, for example, the rear-facing cameras in the exterior mirrors packaged as the Blind Spot View Monitor in the GT-Line that provide the driver with exactly that – a blind-spot view when changing lanes or pulling out from a parallel park on the high street (and not seeing the approaching cyclist!).
Other features that will please families are cup-holders in every door and two in the centre console. How about 8 USB ports, 2x 12V power outlets and in the GT-Line, Qi Wireless charging for your smartphone.
Would you like the interior lighting in your GT-Line to be one of 64 available colours? Sure we’ve got that. A colour Head-Up Display. Not a problem.
One of the very best is the storage for the luggage roller-blind under the floor in the boot where you will also find a full-sized spare wheel – a thoughtful inclusion for all Sorentos in Australia.
The Sorento is further equipped with an impressive list of safety features:
- ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) with EBD & BA
- ESC (Electronic Stability Control) with TCS
- VSM (Vehicle Stability Management)
- TSA (Trailer Stability Assist)
- HAC (Hill-start Assist Control)
- DBC (Downhill Brake Control)
- MCB (Multi Collision Braking)
- LED Daytime Running Lights
- HBA (High Beam Assist)
- BCA (Blind Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist)
- RCCA (Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist)
- LKA (Lane Keeping Assist) with LCA (Lane Change Assist)
- LFA (Lane Following Assist)
- AEB (Autonomous Emergency Brake) with FCWS (Forward Collision Warning System) – Car, Pedestrian, Cyclist & Junction
- DAA+ (Driver Attention Alert)
- Child restraint anchorage points (5x Top tether / 4x ISOFIX)
- 3-point ELR seatbelts on all positions
Based on the couple of thousand words above, my conclusion on the KIA Sorento is pretty clear already.
If you’re looking for a 7-seat SUV packed with safety, luxury, and style that’s going to last a few years as the family runabout for your brood then the KIA Sorento is the car for you.