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Ken Walker with the 
Kia Sorento EX (copyright image)

Ken Walker with the Kia Sorento EX

ROAD TEST:   Kia Sorento EX

by Ken Walker

5th May, 2009

Home > Road Tests > Kia

Being a keen driver of anything with 4 wheel drive and a transfer case, (which to me is the only 4 wheel drive) the writer was visiting several after market off-road accessories shops and was surprised at the feedback by sales staff who reported a lot of buyer enquiry for equipment for the Kia Sorento. Therefore, I am not surprised Kia Motors Australia continues its sales success with the Sorento Wagon.

This time out, the Next Car team evaluates the Kia Sorento EX with a V6 petrol engine and automatic transmission. We have previously reported on the diesel automatic EX-L in a tow test report.

On picking up the V6 Sorento automatic wagon in Sydney, it is up the F3 expressway to Newcastle for the first part of our drive programme. The 3.3 litre V6 24 valve engine with double overhead cams performed admirably on the open road. This engine produces 180 kW of power at 6,000 rpm and torque of 309 Nm at 4,500 rpm. The 3.3 litre V6 is now the only petrol powerplant available in the Sorento line up. And the 5 speed Tiptronic-style transmission is the only gearbox choice available with the petrol powerplant. For those wanting to select the relevant gear themselves, a manual transmission is available with the diesel engine option. It's a good move by Kia Motors to sell the diesel engine, as it has better greenhouse gas emissions.

Buyers of the Kia Sorento have a choice of three trim levels in the LX, EX and EX-L. A trip computer with compass and outside temperature display is shared in all models. All variants have 5 alloy wheel rims, a rare feature these days. Our drive package was fitted with 17” rims running Kuhmo 245/65R17 tyres. These tyres, whilst highway style, performed well enough on gravel roads. Ride quality is good on bitumen surfaces, but only average on gravel roads and corrugated surfaces. The suspension tends to bottom out giving a harsh ride. This is the only fault I found with this otherwise very good machine. Double wishbones with coil springs are fitted to the front while the rear end is supported by a rigid axle with 5 link coil springs. Some great aftermarket products are available from your local off-road equipment supplier if you are buyer wanting to undertake outback travel. With regard to exploring the great outback, this package has towing hooks front and rear as standard fitment.

Stopping the Sorento, which by the way can accelerate from 0 - 100 km/h in about 9.5 seconds, is done with dual circuit hydraulic power assisted ventilated discs front and rear. The Sorento is mounted on a separate ladder frame chassis.

Towing is highly regarded with the Sorento. The towing capacity is 2,800 kg with trailer brakes and 750 kg without brakes. This is indeed an achievement, given that the GVM (gross vehicle mass) is only 2,550 kilogrammes. Included in this figure is the load capacity of 421 kg.

Kia Sorento EX is a pleasure to drive on the bitumen surface, despite its short comings previously mentioned, and is fitted with a host of standard features to make it more comfortable than some. The rear top hinged tailgate has a flip-up glass section, with remote release, for times that you may not need to open the tailgate. An AM/FM radio with MP3 compatible CD player with 6 speakers and power aerial is standard. Power external rear view mirrors and power windows all-around with the drivers’ window having auto down (only) feature. The active front head restraints are also tilt and height adjustable. Seat belts for the rear passengers are all lap/sash types and there are 3 child restraint mount points available. Cruise control is fitted to the arms of the leather steering wheel on the tilt adjustable steering column. Cup/bottle holders are conveniently located for front and rear occupants along with two drop-down storage trays for sunglasses from the centre overhead console.

Safety features also abound in the Sorento with anti-lock brakes (ABS), traction control (TC), electronic stability programme (ESP), SRS airbags for both front seat occupants and speed sensitive rack and pinion steering with power assistance. There are, of course, a lot more that goes into making this package very worthy of consideration.

In the current economical climate, the Kia Sorento is good value for money and a very worthy contender as a tow vehicle.


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