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Brand New Kia Sorento

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Steane Klose | Oct 23, 2009

KIA HAS LAUNCHED its new 2010 Sorento SUV into the Australian market, replacing the first-generation Sorento that has sold almost 900,000 units worldwide since its 2002 introduction.

This time around, five key areas have been the focus for Kia engineers. Performance, fuel economy, reduced emissions, improved on-road handling, greater cabin space and comfort and enhanced crash safety.

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The result is an all-new vehicle that is longer, lower, sleeker and with new high-efficiency engines.

In a move that is now becoming commonplace amongst manufacturers, Kia has reduced engine capacities, but increased efficiency and outputs.

The petrol V6 in the previous model has been replaced by a 2.4-litre Theta II four-cylinder engine and the 2.5-litre diesel has been replaced by the R2.2-litre diesel unit.

The all-new ‘R2.2’ diesel engine, developed at Kia’s diesel engine Centre of Excellence in Europe, develops 145kW and 436 Nm from just 1800 rpm (producing 422Nm when matched to the manual transmission).

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The combined fuel consumption of the new Sorento CRDi manual is improved by 21 percent over the current model, dropping from 8.5 l/100km to 6.7 l/100km, while CO2 emissions are 177gm/km (manual) and 194gm/km (auto).

Overshadowed by the diesel, the 2.4-litre Theta II four-cylinder features dual continuously-variable valve-timing (D-CVVT), four valves per cylinder and cast-aluminium block construction.

Outputs are 128kW and 225Nm, with maximum power at a relatively low 3750rpm.

The Theta II engine’s combined fuel consumption of 9.2l/100km represents a 16 percent reduction over that achieved by the current 3.3L petrol V6. There is also a 15 percent reduction in CO2 emissions, dropping from 260gm/km down to 220gm/km.

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As you would expect, the well muscled R2.2 diesel outperforms the 2.4-litre Theta II-engined car, reaching 100 km/h from standstill in 9.6 seconds with the manual transmission and 10.0 seconds with the automatic transmission.

A Theta II powered Sorento with automatic transmission will accelerate to 100 km/h in 11.1 seconds.

Diesel Sorento buyers will be able to choose from either a six-speed manual or automatic gearbox, while the petrol models will only be available with the six-speed automatic.

Both gearbox types feature ‘high’ top gear ratios to improve fuel economy when cruising at higher speeds.

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According to KIA, both six-speed transmissions have been developed primarily with Australian highways in mind. There is also a choice of drive trains available, either 2WD or 4WD.

The 2WD drivetrain is available with the four-cylinder petrol engine (Sorento Si) and offers lower weight (50kg less than 4WD models), enhanced fuel economy and comes with standard TCS (traction control system) linked to the ABS system.

A single ratio (high range) 4WD system will better suit the needs of buyers who plan to tow or head off-road. It delivers 100 percent of engine torque to the front wheels during regular driving to enhance fuel efficiency, engaging rear wheels when wheel slip is sensed.

For improved traction and greater safety while driving in slippery conditions – such as rain, snow, mud, unpaved roads and off-road – the driver can manually select ‘Lock Mode’. This mode splits the torque 50/50 between the front and rear axles for better stability, maintaining that split up to a speed of 30km/h.

Traction can be further aided by the available Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) and Down-hill Brake Control (DBC), which limits vehicle speed to just 8km/h during steep descents.

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Arguably the most significant change is Kia’s move to a monocoque bodyshell, from the previous model’s more rudimentary (and rugged) body-on-frame structure.

The benefits are improved on-road manners and a significant weight drop of 215kg (depending on the model).

It is also a clear sign that Kia has taken a close look at buyers in the SUV segment, and recognised that the vast majority rarely leave the black-top.

The previous model’s double-wishbone front suspension has been replaced with a newly-developed lighter, less expensive and more compact MacPherson strut arrangement, mounted on a lightweight hydro-formed subframe.

The live rear axle of the previous model has been replaced with an all-new fully independent multi-link suspension, also mounted on a subframe, while automatic self-levelling is available on all diesel models.

Kia is the first to admit that the new Sorento is biased towards on-road handling, but it still boasts a reasonable 25.1 degrees approach angle, 23.1 degrees departure angle and ramp-over angle of 17.1 degrees.

Front brakes are 321 mm diameter ventilated discs, while the rear brakes are 302 mm solid discs. ABS anti-lock and EBD brake-force distribution systems are fitted as standard.

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The Sorento’s new bodyshell is longer, the A-pillars have been repositioned, and the dashboard moved forward creating more cabin space than the current model. It also comes with seating in three rows for up to seven people.

Occupants in all rows benefit from greater headroom, legroom or shoulder room – depending on their location.

With its stretched cabin, new Sorento is a genuine seven-seater with much more space for occupants seated in the (optional) third row, making it ‘best-in-class’ for accommodating the sixth and seventh occupants. Headroom is 906 mm and legroom 795 mm.

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The new Sorento has earned a 5-star Euro NCAP rating, which is expected to see it awarded a 5-star ANCAP rating from December 2009.

Standard active safety features include ESP (Electronic Stability Program), Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) and Downhill Brake Control (DBC).

Inside, a six airbag package is standard. Dual front airbags, dual front side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags (linked to rollover sensors as well as impact sensors) maximise head protection for all occupants.

Front seats in all models are equipped with ‘active’ head restraints.

Every model in the new Sorento range – base-spec Si, mid-spec SLi and top-spec Platinum – is covered by Kia’s unlimited kilometre 5-year warranty.

Kia's new versatile warrior will initially be built at the Hwasung facility in Korea. From next year however, it will also be built at Kia’s new US plant at West Point, Georgia, to supply the North American market.

Trim level

Engine

Transmission

(6-speed)

Drivetrain

Seating

Price $

(RRP)

Si

2.4L petrol

A/T

2WD

7-seat

36,490

2.2L diesel

M/T

4WD

7-seat

39,990

A/T

7-seat

41,990

SLi

2.2L diesel

A/T

7-seat

45,990

Platinum

2.2L diesel

A/T

7-seat

48,990

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