Simon Lai road tests and reviews the 2015 Kia Sorento at the Australian Launch.
The latest incarnation of the Kia Sorento has had a facelift, both inside and out and Behind the Wheel was sent up to the Australian launch in North QLD to check it out.
Even from the outside the differences are obvious from side on. The previous version had a much squarer rear and a more traditional 4WD-esque shape. In the new one, Kia have redesigned it, lowering the roof and raising the beltline creating a more acute angle for the quarter window.
Though slightly shorter it is actually longer and wider giving it a sleeker and less stocky profile as Kia tries to match it up with their new Carnival.
Kia has reworked the grille (the old one looked better), while the Sorento sports new headlamps and larger fog lamps. There is a larger than normal gap between the bonnet and the headlamps though it is consistent and appears to meant to be that way.
The Sorento is available in both a 3.3L V6 petrol (199kW/318Nm) and a 2.2L AWD diesel (147kW/441Nm) and comes in three variants – Si, SLi and Platinum all in six-speed automatic.
The entry price for the petrol Si is $40,990, while the diesel equivalent retails for $44,490.
The Platinum only comes in diesel and costs markedly more at $55,990.
Pricing for the latest Sorento is a bit more than previous years but you get what you pay for and Kia has thrown in a few more features into the package.
All three models contain reversing camera, front and rear sensors, 7 inch touchscreen with sat nav and a very handy tyre pressure monitor, a feature now standard in all American cars.
Above the base model you’ll have the luxury of leather seats, a 7 inch LCD driver info screen, smart key/push button, autodimming mirror and a 10 speaker audio system with sub and amp. Plus a power tailgate with proximity sensor which will open when it detects the key while you’re holding your shopping.
In addition, the top of the range Platinum possesses a two tone interior, 10 way power driver seat with memory selection, 8 way power passenger seat, heated and cooling seats, 4 way headrest, heated steering wheel, daytime running lights, HID lamps and washers, a sunroof and retractable rear blinds. Phew!
On the safety front, the Platinum is also equipped with adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert and along with the six air-bags justifies the five-star ANCAP rating.
Although the outward appearance had changed I was hoping the drive I was pleasantly surprised by the first time hadn’t. And I wasn’t disappointed.
The drive program took us through the Atherton tablelands outside Cairns and the coastal road between the sunkissed city and Port Douglas.
The diesel especially had great get-up-and-go just like I remembered, and had more power through acceleration and was good fun in sport mode.
The drive of the V6 felt ‘lighter’ and not just because of the slight difference in max kerb weight. The engine would kick in around 3k revs disrupting the acceleration as compared with the smoother diesel which definitely has more grunt to it.
Cruising along the sugar cane-lined roads helped the good fuel economy, however there was a little body roll experienced on the windy coastal highway but we pushed the vehicle hard round the bends, more than the average driver would. The Sorento isn’t a sports car after all and handled this challenge with adeptness and agility for a car this size.
Traction was also trustworthy and the wheels gave sufficient feedback to the driver but not the same way as the previous model.
Kia has taken out the Flex Steer (of which I was a fan) and installed 3 drive modes like in many other cars. It actually gives you more selection, changing not just the steering but the power and transmission. Although, to me, the sport mode didn’t feel the same as it did before.
Everything about the Sorento was comfortable – from the well formed leather seats to the excellent suspension and the much improved NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) with no discernible diesel engine ‘rumble’ from inside the cabin.
Special mention for the steering wheel in the upper grades that are wrapped in leather with a smooth wood look to the top section (which also highlights the interior). The faux wood adds to the tactile comfort but is so dark you can’t see the grain so it may as well be black.
The rest of the inside is more sophisticated than the old model, with finer materials as mentioned, and stylish lines in particular the centre console. Not to say the previous version was unsightly, just ordinary looking dash elements.
The current touchscreen and controls plus the two A/C vents are encapsulated by a silver border which sit above the easy to use A/C controls.
Another attractive feature is of course the 7-seat capacity and the third row passengers will be comfortable with large cup holders and a dedicated A/C vent and control. And the release straps on the back of the seats have Velcro to stick onto the felt when not in use so they don’t flap about. It’s the small things.
Features like paddle shifters, start/stop technology and a CD player have been omitted but these are all things you can live without.
The Sorento is another quality offering from Kia that has all you could ask for from a family SUV. Features, drivability, safety and looks are all included in this one package and although dearer than before is still extremely competitive in its segment.
The 2015 Kia Sorento range goes on sale today.
$40,990 Si Petrol
$45,990 SLi Petrol
$44,490 Si Diesel
$49,490 SLi Diesel
$55,990 Platinum Diesel
NUTS and BOLTS – 2015 Kia Sorento
Engine: 3.0 litre V6 petrol producing 199kW and 318Nm
Or 2.2L diesel producing 147kW and 441Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Warranty: 7 year Unlimited
Safety: Five Stars
Origin: South Korea
Price: From $40,990