When Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel he stopped halfway through and realised his scale was wrong and improved the rest of the ceiling, There was nothing wrong with what he had already done, he just wasn’t happy with it.
Now you might ask what the *!#$xxx… has the Sistine Chapel got to do with a car review. Well nothing really it just seemed like an unusual intro but one designed to make a point. I am not comparing the Kia Sorento to the beauty and mastery of the Sistine Chapel, however there are parallels.
What parallels you may ask, I’m glad you asked.
Kia has gone to great lengths a few years ago, to design what was, by the measure of all the awards it won, a well-designed successful vehicle. There was nothing wrong with the model at all really. Yet they deemed it worthwhile to make more improvements.
That was the reason we found ourselves whisked away to the beautiful Blue Mountains for the launch of the latest update of the Sorento. Kia has called it a significant product enhancement. There are 2WD and AWD versions.
They focused on four key areas
• Comfort and Convenience
• Design and Styling
To show how in tune with their market, a lot of what has been enhanced has come directly from feedback from customers and some is what they felt needed to be improved themselves.
Key changes include
• Addition of Kia’s in-house eight-speed automatic across the range,
• a new larger capacity long-stroke petrol engine, which to be honest is neither her or there
• a higher and longer body for increased internal space, which is noticeable, especially in the rear half of the vehicle
• revised and improved ride and handling characteristics to even better suit Australian conditions,
• Some exterior streamlining and changes to LED lights
• Revised and tuned suspension to improve handling and noise reduction
• a new 8 inch multi-media cluster incorporating Apple CarPlay and Android Auto,
• Improved Harmon Kardon sound system on some models
• Improved safety features including: AEB across the range, Lane Keeping Assist, Driver Attention Alert, a 360-degree camera on GT-Line and advanced cruise control for all grades.
Let’s have a look at a couple of what I think the key improvements are.
Firstly the 8 speed automatic transmission. Kia has again built this in house and it’s VERY smooth. The six speed it replaces was good, this is better!
So straight from the Kia marketing material…. They actually have explained it pretty well.
The new transmission offers four different drive modes: Eco, Comfort, Sport and Smart. Drivers can select their preferred mode with the Sorento’s electronic Drive Mode Select system.
Each mode enables the driver to customise the powertrain’s responses to driver inputs, enhancing fuel economy or acceleration characteristics depending on driver preference. The Drive Mode Select also adapts the weight of the rack-mounted power steering system, for more relaxed or more immediate, engaging steering responses.
The new Smart Mode is designed to understand and anticipate the driver’s steering preferences, automatically switching between Eco, Comfort and Sport modes. This enables the Sorento to adapt to the driver’s steering behaviour as road conditions change, pre-empting the driver’s preference for different speeds and driving environments.
The second key improvement for my money is the extra length that is focused mainly in the rear section. It is noticeable in rear seat leg room and boot space. Again making what was already class leading even better.
The third area is the widespread adoption of additional safety features across the range. The entry Si model is now comprehensively equipped with features like Kia’s latest DRiVE WISE Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). DRIVE WiSE embodies Kia’s philosophy to create intelligently safe vehicles with active safety technologies designed to avoid or mitigate the effects of collisions.
The Si features:
Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) • Forward Collision Warning System (FCWS) • Lane Keeping Assist (LKA) • Driver Attention Alert (DAA) • Advanced Smart Cruise Control • Electronic Parking Brake (EPB) with auto-hold • Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control System (TCS), • Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) • Front and Reverse Parking Sensors • Rear view camera with dynamic guidelines • LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL)
So let’s quickly sum up. Kia has upgraded what was already an excellent product to make it better. They have added more safety features across the range, added an 8 speed automatic transmission to improve smoothness and fuel economy, have streamlined the exterior for a more subtle style and added LEDS etc, have lengthened the body for more internal room and a bunch of other features. All this for marginal price increases.
The Kia Sorento is bloody good!
Kia tells us that the majority of fleet sales is in the Si or Sport range and the private sales is skewed towards the SLi and GT Line and 70 % diesel. That makes sense. If I was looking to buy I would buy the GT Line in diesel! It only comes in diesel.
Given the Kia’s main competition is the Mazda CX-9, Toyota Kluger, Hyundai Santa Fe and the rest of the also rans, Kia should be justifiably proud of its product and how it compares. . We will be running more in depth reviews over the next few months so please keep an eye out for them.
All Kia’s come with their outstanding full factory 7-year warranty, 7-year capped price servicing and 7-year roadside assist.
Pricing for the petrol variants is:
• Si $42,990 (+$2000);
• Sport $44,990 (previously Si Limited +$1000);
• SLi $46,990 (+$1000).
Diesel pricing is:
• Si $45,490 (+$1000);
• Sport $48,490 (previously Si Limited +$1000);
• SLi $50,490 (+$1000);
• Platinum discontinued; GT-Line $58,990 (+$500).