2013 Kia Sorento SLi V6 Petrol 2WD Automatic Review Photo:
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What's Hot
Eerily quiet on road, flexible cabin.
What's Not
Horrible foot-operated parking brake; hard interior plastics.
Value for money; sharp ride and handling.
Ian Crawford | Nov, 02 2012 | 9 Comments


Vehicle style: Large SUV
Price: $40,490
Engine: 3.5litre DOHC V6 petrol
Fuel economy listed: 9.8 l/100km | tested: 10.1 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 235g/km.



Kia is starting to make sizeable waves in the Australian SUV market. Combined, year-to-date sales of the compact Sportage and the large Sorento are up by 26 percent.

As a segment, it’s the large SUVs that are really on the move with buyers - the segment has grown by 25.3 percent this year alone.

Not content with running with the pack, Kia’s Sorento is showing year-to-date growth of 34.8 percent. That’s what we mean by a “sizeable wave”.

Now, enter a new Sorento with a face-lift front and rear (is that a bum-lift?) and a raft of under-the-skin upgrades.

The new Sorento’s arrival follows in the wheel-tracks of its Hyundai cousin, the Santa Fe. And, interestingly, Hyundai has dropped the V6 petrol engine from its Santa Fe line-up and does not have a 2WD model.

Kia on the other hand takes the view that with more than 50 percent of the sales of Ford’s Territory and Toyota’s Kluger being 2WDs, there is a clear opportunity to grab some of this action.

We tested the SLi 3.5 litre V6 2WD petrol automatic.



Quality: The new Kia’s interior is not as classy as the new Santa Fe’s but it is functional and the driver ergonomics are pretty good.

Unlike the Santa Fe which has plenty of soft-touch surfaces, the Sorento is awash with hard plastic on the dash and the doors.

Comfort: While the big Korean is comfortable enough for first- and second-row passengers, the leather-trimmed versions could do with a bit more front-seat thigh bolstering. You can slide around a bit in tight corners.

Like all seven-seaters, the rear seats – as practical as they are – are really only for kids on short distances, and not for a Sydney-Melbourne hike.

Equipment: Buyers of the new Sorento are in for something of a smorgasbord of standard features.

Sli (and for that matter the other two versions) features include daytime LED running lights, cruise control, leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel and shift knob, six-function trip computer, electrically-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support, remote central locking with keyless entry and tailgate release, power windows and exterior mirrors, dual-zone climate-control air-con and tinted glass,

There is also a six-speaker CD/MP3 audio system, AUX/USB input and iPod compatibility, Bluetooth with media streaming, fog-lights, alloy sports pedals, dusk-sensing automatic headlights and front-and-rear parking sensors... and more.

Storage: Family buyers will welcome not only the seven-seat capacity, but a raft of storage cubby holes and a cargo space that, depending on whether the second and third-row seats are occupied or folded flat, ranges from 258 litres to a whopping 2700 litres.

There is a good sized glove-box, bottle pockets and cup-holders, seat-back pockets, a roof-mounted sunglasses holder, centre-console storage, and a secret compartment under the luggage-compartment floor.

The luggage compartment also comes with a screen and cargo tie-down hooks.



Driveability: The Sli’s 204kW/335Nm V6 engine is a powerful and willing unit and, in 2WD guise, with less weight to lug around than the 4WD version, it gets about things very briskly.

Overtaking and hills are dispatched with a minimum of fuss and the shared Kia/Hyundai sequential-sports-shifting six-speed automatic works a treat.

The three-mode selectable steering system is something you don’t find in many cars irrespective of price, and switching between the modes via the steering-mounted button really does change things.

We found that while ‘Sport’ was just the thing for highway cruising, it was a tad heavy on a winding road where ‘Normal’ works better.

Refinement: The combination of improved NVH levels, a top-line suspension set-up and comfortable seating endows the new Sorento with plenty of refinement.

Mechanical noise is nicely attenuated and there is little road noise from the 235/60 R18 rubber, even on rough surfaces.

Suspension: The new Korean shines in this department and the reason is an exhaustive Australian testing and turning program that began a year ago.

Kia company engineers worked with a local team (led by consulting engineer Graham Gambold), benchmarking their new baby against the Ford Territory, BMW’s X5, Toyota Kluger and Holden’s Captiva.

The Sorento carries a stronger sub-frame, beefier anti-roll bars and dual-low dampers as a result. For varied Australian road conditions, the Sorento is about right with surprisingly good driving dynamics and comfort.

Braking: Up front are 320mm ventilated discs, with 302mm solids at the rear. Pedal feel is excellent and a couple of crash stops proved the new Sorento’s stopping prowess.

In fact, Kia claims that if the driver hits the brakes at 100 km/h, the big SUV will stop in an impressive 36.3 metres.



ANCAP rating: 5-Stars

Safety features: All models come with dual front airbags, front side airbags and side-curtain airbags for front- and second-row occupants.

Standard too is Kia’s is stability control, traction control, ABS brakes, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, hill-start assist, downhill brake control, impact-sensing automatic door locks, front seatbelt pretensioners with load limiters and an energy-absorbing steering column.



Warranty: The Sorento is covered by a 5-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty with roadside assistance. Speak with your dealer for more details.

Service costs: The Kia Connect package lists a five-year capped-price servicing programme, with costs ranging from $314 to $559 depending on the car’s service schedule. (More details here.)



Ford Territory TS 2WD ($46,990): A very nice car with a superior ride and Ford’s smooth 4.0 litre six under the bonnet. However, the Ford’s value-for-money credentials are no match for the Kia’s impressive feature-list. (see Territory reviews)

Toyota Kluger KX-S 2WD 3.5i ($50,990): The mid-spec Kluger has all the brand and build-quality strength and reliability that comes with a Toyota, but it’s more than $10,000 dearer than the Sorento and the ride is a little wallowy. (see Kluger reviews)

Holden SX 2WD Captiva (32,490): A value-buying seven-seater but it’s not nearly as roomy as the Sorento, doesn’t drive as well and lacks Sorento’s extensive feature list and has a smaller engine. (see Captiva reviews)

Mazda CX-9 Classic 2WD ($44,425): Nice car, elegant interior and very nice 3.7 litre petrol engine, but at $44,425 it too is dearer than the Kia. (see CX-9 reviews)



Great styling under the guidance of design guru Peter Schreyer, plus a strong model line-up, is paying dividends for ‘the second’ Korean.

Now, Australian buyers are very aware of the brand.

Kia is pitching the face-lifted Sorento at urban mums and dads - mostly mums - who want safety and all the room and practicality of a large family chariot, without the extra expense of a 4WD system they don’t really need.

As a family wagon, on value and capability, the new Sorento delivers.

With a potent V6 under the bonnet, and a nicely sorted ride, it’s got all the firepower it needs to give Kluger and Territory a serious run for their money.

Well worth a very close look.



3.5 V6 Petrol

  • Si - automatic - 2WD - $37,490
  • SLi - automatic - 2WD - $40,490
  • SLi Navigation - automatic - 2WD - $41,990

2.2 4Cyl Diesel

  • Si - manual - AWD - $38,990
  • Si - automatic - AWD - $40,990
  • SLi - automatic - AWD - $43,990
  • SLi Navigation - AWD - $45,490
  • Platinum - AWD - $50,390

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