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Kia Sorento road test

by Mark Walker

3rd February, 2013

Home > Road Tests > Kia

Related stories:
Kia Sorento updated
29th October, 2012
Kia introduces "Capped Price" servicing
7th September, 2012

With SUV sales continuing to boom, we sample one of the popular mid-sized models from Korea.

Test Car particulars

The vehicle driven is the Kia Sorento Platinum coloured Glittering Metal with Steel black trim.


The new Sorento is available in three variants: Si, SLi and Platinum. The Si and SLi are both offered with a choice of 2WD or 4WD and petrol or diesel engines.

Pricing is currently being offered from $37,990** drive-away for 2012 plated entry level Si 2WD models. The Si 2WD is fitted with the 204kW 3.5 litre V6 petrol engine and automatic transmission as standard. The normal price for the entry level Si is $37,490* (plus on-road costs). Add $1,500 for the Si with 4WD, diesel engine and manual gearbox. Add another $2,000 for the automatic gearbox.

The mid-range SLi adds a significant amount of equipment and some cosmetic extras over the Si. Itís priced from $40,490* for the 2WD petrol automatic and $43,990* for the 4WD diesel automatic. Itís also available with integrated satellite navigation for an extra $1,500*.

The top of the range Platinum like we drove is priced from $50,390*. The test vehicle had premium paint so add $595* making the price, as tested, as $50,985*.

Model background

The Sorento was first sold in 2002, and has survived seven years and sales of almost 900,000 worldwide. The second generation Sorento arrived in 2009 and was a major improvement in design, safety and quality although less capable off-road.

The MY13 Sorento is effectively an upgraded version of the second generation vehicle.

From the outside, the changes arenít obvious unless the lights are on. New for MY13 are LED daytime running lights at the front and a fresh LED tail light clusters at the rear. It seems like all new models are jumping on the LED bandwagon but these add a much needed touch of class to the big Kia.

The front and rear bumpers are also freshened to improve the overall appearance with the lower ride height and new larger alloy wheels completing the new look. The interior is improved with a new look dash and increased equipment levels.

The Sorento still shares its underpinnings with the Hyundai Santa Fe, a car that has also been recently updated. The Santa Fe is one of the Sorentoís close competitors, along with the Aussie built Ford Territory and Toyotaís petrol only Kluger.

Driving the Sorento Platinum

The Platinum is only available with a 2.2 litre turbo-charged common rail direct injection diesel engine matched to a six-speed automatic transmission and that suits us fine. You can have a bigger V6 petrol engine in the other variants but itís much thirstier on fuel, lacks the torque of the diesel and is only available in two-wheel drive.

Itís a little noisy but the diesel propels the big Sorento along very capably. Maximum power is a meagre 145 kW at 3,800 rpm although maximum torque is an impressive 436 Nm between 1,800 rpm 2,500 rpm. Itís not going to win many races - the official time from strand still to 100 km/h time is claimed as 9.9 seconds. Thatís still brisk enough around town and it provides very comfortable motoring at freeway speeds, including some steep gradients which we encountered.

Some people may not appreciate the lack of feeling from the electric power steering. Itís got three modes to select from: Comfort (very light), Normal (light) and Sport (heavy). After testing all three we stuck to Comfort mode mostly thanks to its ability to make parking virtually effortless.

Living with the Sorento Platinum

Kia has been very generous in filling the Sorento with value. The convenience and comfort features on the MY13 Sorento Platinum are everywhere.

Keyless entry allows you to unlock and lock the door without taking the key from your pocket/purse.

The Platinum gets leather seating as standard and this gives the cabin a premium feeling. The front seats could be more supportive but are still comfortable and the driverís seat is electrically adjustable. If you have two regular drivers you will appreciate the fact there are two memory settings on the driverís seat allowing prompt, precise adjustment. The front seats are heated as standard in the Platinum which will be handy in winter. Not content with that, Kia have also added ventilated cooling to the front seats to improve comfort in the summer. In-seat ventilation is an excellent feature in leather seats which tend to get hot if your car is parked in the sun on a hot day. The ventilation cools them promptly and also cools your body Ė arguably faster than the conventional climate control air conditioning.

Integrated, retractable sun blinds in the 2nd row of seating are a very good touch that will be appreciated by families with young children. The 2nd row of seats can also be reclined for extra comfort. The 3rd row is a kids only domain and they now also receive their very own air conditioning vent.

The inclusion of the massive panoramic sunroof helps fill the cabin with light and adds to the premium feel. The full length blind is electrically controlled from a switch above the rear vision mirror. The front section of the sunroof can be open horizontally or be tilted to suit.

Our test car had the excellent, integrated satellite navigation included. Itís a good system with a massive, centrally mounted touch screen which doubles as the screen for the reversing camera. Bluetooth connection for telephone use and audio streaming is standard kit and its easy to use too.

Storage space in Sorento is poor if all 3 rows of seats are upright however youíll experience the same problem with competitors in this segment. Drop the 3rd of seats and you have a generous 1,047 litres of storage space which can be expanded further to a massive 2,052 litres if the second row of seats is also folded down.

Noise levels in the cabin are also slightly improved over the old model, helping add to the comfort. The diesel rattle is still noticeable in the cabin at times Ė mostly when accelerating from stand still or from low speeds.

Overall, the interior comfort, quality and equipment levels in the Sorento Platinum are excellent Ė particularly so given the price point.


The Sorento 2.2 litre diesel 4WD carries a five star safety rating, as awarded by Euro NCAP back in 2009 when the previous all-new model was released. The new generation car retains the five star rating due to it providing comparable occupant protection.

The big Kia Sorento brakes well thanks to new larger discs and support from anti-lock braking (ABS) with electronic brake distribution and brake assist.

Other safety features include six airbags, traction control, and all Sorentoís are fitted with front and rear parking sensors. The SLi and Platinum both have a rear view camera.

Fuel and emissions

Kia claim fuel consumption rating of just 7.3 litres per 100 km on a combined cycle which, for a vehicle of this size, is very reasonable indeed. That compares very well indeed against the Toyota Kluger Grande AWD which is slightly larger, slightly heavier, more powerful, petrol only and includes less luxury and convenience features. The Toyota guzzles 11.6 litres per 100 km on a combined cycle. That is a big difference over 100,000 kms.

A fuel tank of 64 litres on such a large vehicle seems small but thanks to the frugal diesel power plant, the theoretical range on a single tank is well over 800 kms.

Letís go back to the Toyota Kluger comparison and use the manufacturers claimed consumption figures for a partly hypothetical scenario. Say you drive the same roads in the Kluger Grande AWD and the Sorento Platinum AWD for 100,000 km. Youíll use 7,300 litres of diesel in the Kia and need to refuel at least 114 times assuming the tank is full to begin with. Doesnít mean much I suppose. But think about the Toyota. It will consume 11,600 litres of unleaded over the same distance and need to be refuelled at least 161 times (itís got a 72 litre tank capacity). So 59% more fuel or 4,300 litres on a quantity basis and 47 more trips to service stations Ė which is 41% more time Ė time which can be better spent doing what you want to do. If you spend 15 minutes refuelling each time, that is almost 12 hours wasted over the period. Weíll get to service intervals later where even more time is wasted.

Combined CO2 emissions are 192g per km from the Euro IV compliant engine.

The manual diesel is claimed to be more fuel efficient than the automatic. Kia claim fuel economy for the manual is 6.6 litres per 100km on a combined cycle as per the ADR 81/02 standard.


Length: 4,685 mm
Width: 1,885 mm (excluding side mirrors)
Height: 1,700 mm (including roof rails)
Wheelbase: 2,700 mm
Weight: 1,960 kg
Boot capacity: 258 litres with 7 seats up, 1,047 litres with 5 seats up, 2,052 with 2 seats up


The maximum towing capacity for a Sorento with automatic transmission is 2,000 kg with a braked trailer. Although a Sorento diesel with manual transmission can tow a braked trailer up to 2,500kg. All Sorento models can tow an unbraked trailer weighing up to 750kg.

After Sales

The Sorento is supported by an excellent warranty, protecting it subject to conditions for up to five years with no limit on kilometres travelled for vehicles sold to retail buyers.

Service intervals are 15,000 km or every 12 months, whichever comes first. Kia has adopted a capped price servicing scheme for new vehicles. The Sorento enjoys capped price service costs for the first five services, effectively locking in service costs for up to 5 years or 75,000 km. This compares reasonably well to rival schemes. For example, although the Toyota Service Advantage covers up to six services on a Kluger, you need to get that car serviced every 6 months and the period of cover is a maximum of 3 years before you are at the mercy of your selected dealer and their chosen labour rate and parts pricing structure. The cost of each Sorento capped price service varies but the average is less than $400 per service.

Perhaps more compelling than the total cost over 5 years is the time saving and convenience of having the vehicle serviced just once per year.


The Sorento is understandably winning widespread praise, mostly thanks to its excellent value and quality proposition. We think itís a good looking SUV too.

NOTE: * Manufacturer's List Price (MLP) excludes dealer delivery fees and the numerous statutory charges (commonly known as on-road costs). Additionally, please note that all prices, fees and charges are subject to change without notice, as are the specifications.


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