2018 Kia Sorento Launch Review

2018 Kia Sorento Road Test, Review

kia sorento 2018

Kia Australia is hoping this updated and improved Kia Sorento SUV will help them take more sales away from the other three main competitors in this segment of the market.

Those other offerings are the Mazda CX-9, Toyota Kluger and Nissan Pathfinder.

2018 kia sorento interior

Now, I only just reviewed the updated version of the Mazda seven-seater last week (check that out here), and I had the previous model Kia Sorento just seven weeks ago (found here).

So both the Kia and the Mazda were fresh in my mind when I got along to the launch of the updated Sorento.

Ironically, Sorento was our Car of the Year in 2015, the CX-9 last year…so suffice to say I’m a fan of both.

Here are the main differences between a 2017 Kia Sorento and a 2018 version:

  • Updated V6 petrol engine that is now 3.5 litres in capacity, up from 3.3 litres
  • The V6 now produces an additional 7kW/18Nm for a new 206kW/336Nm output
  • Slight fuel economy gain over previous V6 engine - 0.1L/100km
  • 2.2 litre diesel engine remains the same, though fuel economy improved by 0.6L/100km
  • Both engines are mated to an improved eight-speed auto transmission (where the fuel economy benefits have come)
  • New ‘Smart’ drive mode - a mode that senses your driving style/road conditions and acts accordingly
  • Tweaks for suspension and steering settings
  • Emergency braking - standard
  • Apple CarPlay/Android Auto - standard
  • Digital radio - standard
  • Updated digital speedo/driver info screen
  • New-look grille and taillights
  • New steering wheel design
  • Fresh alloy wheel designs
  • New paint colour (as seen in the photos) - Gravity Blue
  • New top-spec GT-Line variant replaces Platinum grade (diesel only)
  • Price increases up to $2,000

Some general comments about the updated Kia Sorento for you:

The V6 engine doesn’t feel noticeably different to the less-powerful 3.3 litre version and given the choice I would opt for the 147kW/441Nm turbo-diesel (as about 70% of Sorento buyers traditionally do).

The new transmission is a welcome addition, it is a smooth shifter that is happy to assist with a change down in quick time should you need some extra go.

Perhaps the biggest improvement though is what the Kia engineers have done to the ride and handling.

I’m always concerned when I hear that a car has been given a sharper and sportier feel - in this case that has been achieved, without a loss of comfort.

kai sorento 2018 rearThis is at odds with the tweaks made by Mazda to the CX-9 - I thought the updated model didn’t feel as composed and settled as the original tune on the new-generation model.

The 2018 Kia Sportage, especially in ‘sports’ mode has a bit more flair and is not quite as conservative in feel as Sorentos of the past.

If you want me to give you a verdict on which of the two you should buy, here’s where I see the differences:

  • The Mazda CX-9 has a nicer, more modern and more prestigious interior
  • Access to the third-row of seats (improved in the 2018 variant) is better than the Kia
  • The Mazda turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine is a good compromise between the Kia’s two powerplants
  • The Kia feels a lot roomier (overall) inside
  • Kia’s entry also provides much better visibility than the Mazda, and is thus an easier vehicle to drive
  • Factor in Kia’s seven-year warranty, compared to Mazda’s three year coverage

My advice is to drive both and see which ones suits you, for me though, at this point in time, I’d be leaving a Kia dealership with my new seven-seat SUV.

NUTS and BOLTS - 2018 Kia Sorento

  • Engines: 3.5 litre V6 petrol producing 206kW/336Nm or 2.2 litre turbo-diesel producing 147kW/441Nm
  • Transmission: Eight-speed auto
  • Safety: Five stars
  • Warranty: Seven years
  • Origin: South Korea
  • Price: from $42,990

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