Australian’s have a big appetite for large SUVs, but the Kia Sorento can’t seem to get itself higher up the charts, slotting in behind top sellers like the Toyota Kluger, Mazda CX-9, Subaru Outback and the related Hyundai Santa Fe.
Prior to this latest update the Sorento was still a decent family SUV, which is why Kia has been very careful about the changes made.
There’s still a strong sense of familiarity with the 2018 Sorento, with small changes designed to increase the new model’s appeal without disturbing the solid fundamental basics.
Vehicle Style: Large SUV
Price: $42,990 - $58,990 plus on-road costs
Engine/trans: 147kW/441Nm 2.2-litre 4cyl turbo diesel, 206kW/336Nm 3.5-litre 6cyl petrol | 8spd automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 7.2-10.0 l/100km
Visual changes to the Kia Sorento include a new set of front and rear bumpers, a tweaked grille appearance, new head and tail lights (depending on the specification) and new alloy wheel designs available in 17-, 18-, and 19-inches.
The model range has also been massaged. The previous Si Limited and Platinum nameplates have been retired with the new four-model range consisting of Si, Sport (in place of Si Limited), SLi and the carry-over GT-Line taking the place of the previous Platinum.
New names and style aside, Kia has bumped up safety spec with the addition of Autonomous Emergency Braking as standard across the range, previously reserved for high-grade models only.
Mechanically a new eight-speed auto has been added across the range, while petrol models gain a larger, more powerful V6 engine. These changes come at a cost though, with a price increase across the range. The petrol range begins at $42,990 (plus on-road costs) for the Si up to $46,990 for the SLI while the diesel Si is priced from $45,490 up to $58,990 for the GT-Line.
- Si: Cloth seats, dual-zone air conditioning, third-row ventilation and fan control, wood-look trim, adaptive cruise control, seven seats, 17-inch alloy wheels
- Sport: adds leather appointed seat trim, 18-inch alloy wheels
- SLi: adds eight-way power driver’s seat, keyless entry and push-button start, automatic powered tailgate, extended wood-look trim, alloy pedals, 18-inch alloy wheels
- GT-Line: adds GT-Line embossed seats, extended front seat adjustment, heated steering wheel, heated and cooled front seats, heated second row seats, gloss black interior trim, 19-inch alloy wheels
- Infotainment: 8.0-inch colour touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, AM/FM/DAB+ radio, Aux and USB input, satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, six speaker audio (Si, Sport) or 10-speaker Harman Kardon audio (SLi, GT-Line)
- Cargo Volume: 142 litres to rear seats, 605 litres to second row, 1665 litres to first row
Headline changes inside the new Sorento include a new four-spoke steering wheel and, most importantly, a new 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen in place of the previous 7.0-inch system.
Kia’s in-house navigation system is standard across all variants in place of a third party supplied system, and smartphone connectivity is provided via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Only the base-mode Si features fabric seat trim, while all other variants feature leather appointed trim. Dual-zone climate control is also standard across the range, as is thrid row ventilation with an independently controlled booster fan.
Things start to luxe-up with the SLI with keyless entry and start , a powered tailgate, and a more punchy audio system from Harman Kardon, while the GT-Line pampers with heated first and second row seats, plus front seat ventilation, and a heated steering wheel.
Crucially for a vehicle of its size the Sorento is capable of happily loading a pair of younger travellers into the third row, and even adults can slot in for comfortable short trips.
The second-row seats are broad and comfy, with slide adjustment to free up more legroom for the rear and an easy tilt function to assist full-capacity loading.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 206kW/336Nm 3.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol V6, 147kW/441Nm 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel
- Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, front wheel drive (petrol) or all wheel drive (diesel)
- Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link independent rear
- Brakes: 320mm vented front dics, 305mm solid rear discs
- Steering: Electric power steering, 11.4m turning circle
- Towing Capacity: 2000kg braked, 750kg unbraked, 100kg towball load
As a measure to improve driveability Kia has made some of the biggest changes to the Sorento in places you can’t see them.
The previous model’s 3.3-litre V6 petrol engine has been replaced by a new 3.5-litre unit. That has resulted in better performance with 206kW of power and 336Nm, up from 199kW and 318Nm from the old engine.
Diesel buyers will find a carry-over 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel and both engines are now mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission.
The new gearbox has been developed in-house by Hyundai-Kia and helps reduces fuel economy in the diesel, dropping from 7.8-litres per 100km down to 7.2L/100km.
However, the larger capacity of the petrol engine has actually increased fuel consumption, albeit only marginally, using 10L/100km whereas the 3.3-litre used 9.9L/100km.
Drive for the V6 is sent to the front wheels, with the petrol model available in Si, Sport and SLI trims only, while the diesel adds standard all wheel drive and is available on all trim levels.
Kia Australia also revisited its locally-developed suspension tune in response to criticism that the out-going model had too much body lean when cornering. Ride comfort hasn’t been altered, but the changes made do result in better body control in twisty conditions.
An appraisal of the new V6 will have to come at a later date as TMR’s time was only spent in the diesel model, but with the new eight-speed auto and improved suspension the Sorento is has a much improved sense of composure on the road.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Growing families will find that the Sorento has also grown, into a capable and eminently likeable family SUV.
Sweeping changes weren’t really required. The Sorento has always been quiet and comfortable, but now it provides improved driveability which should keep drivers and passengers alike happy.
Though Kia may only have made minor changes, the end result is a big difference in making the new Sorento even better than before.
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