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Tow Test


Kia Sorento

by Ken Walker

30th November, 2007


Kia Sorento 
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Another adventure with a working holiday for this intrepid consultant as a road behaviour report is prepared on a vehicle handed over to the Next Car team by Kia Motors Australia. We, just the two of us, with caravan in tow head-off towards the south-west of NSW from Newcastle to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains for our first overnight stop.

Heading south (I knew this because the standard fitment directional indicator said so) along the F3 Freeway we set a blistering pace right on the speed limit of 110 km/h, only to be overtaken by scores of rubber neckers (who, by the way, were exceeding the speed limit) trying to work out what was propelling my 18’ pop-top caravan along at this credible rate. The dry weight of my 'van is 1,606 kgs and this increases by about 250 kgs with water in the tanks and personal effects. The hills were hardly noticeable with the Sorento only dropping 15-20 km/h on the steeper sections.

Through the north western suburbs of Sydney the Sorento was quite happy with the job in hand. In stop-start traffic the temperature gauge stayed where it was just after leaving home and, in fact, it had not risen above what appeared to be the normal level. This included days when the temperature hit 30`.

Leaving Katoomba, we had to negotiate the notoriously steep downward slope of Mt Victoria en route to our next stop at Bathurst. The Kia Sorento never looked like it would not handle the rigours of one of the steepest (9 to 1) declines in Australia. I held the transmission in 2nd gear and used the engine as a brake, only touching the foot brake on a few occasions ..... no problems at all. Whilst staying at Bathurst we ventured to Hill End, the historic site from the old gold rush days. To get there, we travelled over 60 kms of rough gravel road. The Sorento was surprisingly stable and predictable. However, the suspension made heavy work out of the road surface and was a bit harsh. A trip to a suspension specialist should rectify this minor distraction. The dust was so thick on the rear window that we could not see out the back, so upon our return to Bathurst we went through the brushless car wash. Perhaps Kia could look at a dust deflecting rear spoiler. After Bathurst we headed towards Orange in the central west of NSW. On the way, we stopped at the town of Blayney, for what has become the traditional morning tea stop. It was here that we indulged ourselves with the biggest cream buns that I have ever seen and a mug of coffee each for less than $10.00. Unfortunately, the cream in the cream buns was of the pretend variety. A travellers dream bargain and a definite stop next time in the region. At Orange, it was time to do a little shopping, which is what travelling is all about according to the companion! Resting in Orange after several days shopping it was then time to drive to Mudgee ...... more shopping? No way, not for me.

The Sorento package, fitted for towing, has a maximum capacity (with a braked trailer) of 2,800 kgs which is quite substantial given the weight of the automatic diesel Sorento is around the 2,121 kgs. The Kia Sorento, in diesel guise, is fitted with a 2.5 litre common rail engine with an intercooler producing 125 Kw at the flywheel with a very handy and massive 392 nM to the driving wheels. This is better than the larger rivals from the Japanese marques. The standard 5 speed automatic transmission seems to sense a load on the towbar and remains in 4th gear unless a down shift is required. Our test vehicle, the top of the line, EX Limited, holds the road via 265/65R17 Kuhmo Road Venture STs tyres fitted to 17” alloy rims. The spare is a full size alloy wheel. Inside, the trim is leather. It's high quality and it's well made. The driver’s seat is power operated for lift, rake and reach. The steering wheel is height adjustable only. A good quality sound system is fitted with a single disc CD player and a cassette player. Of course, power windows, mirrors and an automatic radio aerial are standard inclusions. Dual zone climate control air conditioning and auto headlamps are also fitted. A sunroof with tilt or slide function is another standard inclusion on the EX Limited Edition. Did I mention that this package is a 5 seater, ideal for those not wanting the extra 2 or 3 seating positions? You beauty!! There are numerous storage places throughout and at least four cup holders. Privacy glass is featured the windows except the front doors and, of course, the windscreen. Externally the standard of fit and finish is exceptional. Dust sealing is excellent.

At around $45,000 plus statutory government charges and dealer delivery fees, the Kia Sorento CRDi EX Limited Automatic Wagon represents very good value for a 4 wheel drive vehicle. It is well placed on the affordability scale considering the prices of other 4WD automatic diesels.

It seems I forgot to mention that this is a real 4 wheel drive as a transfer case is fitted. It is engaged through a dash mounted switch and automatic locking hubs are standard.

Kia Sorento 

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Fuel economy was not checked on this run. Suffice to say that I was happy with the dollars spent on fuel. Kia quote 9.4 litres per 100 kms. The fuel tank has a capacity of 80 litres. A caravan towing range of about 550-600 kms is achievable depending on the terrain being traversed. One thing that really impressed me when leaving the caravan park for our return trip was the fact that this unit with the van in tow idled off the site and I had to put my foot on the brake to keep within the park speed limit. There were a few astonished looks from other park guests!

Overall, the Sorento, as tested by the Next Car team, more than adequately coped with the task in hand. The team clocked up a little over 2,000 kms in 2 weeks and the only problem found was that of the ride harshness on rough gravel roads.

For those planning a trip around Australia towing a caravan, this Kia Sorento tow test proved this vehicle is well worthy of some very serious consideration.

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Other Kia content: here.

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