What’s a better automotive companion than a large family-friendly 7-seat SUV? Not much to be honest, especially when it comes to comfort, space and practicality, apart from a Volkswagen Bus of course. This particular weekend, however, didn’t have a scenic getaway on the Garden Route planned. Instead, it was going to be a gruelling few days of running the regular devastating rush-hour trip to work to the CBD a daily 50 km commute. Adding pressure on the updated Kia Sorento’s need to perform as the designated wheels for the week were errands for myself and grandparents, getting a multitude of quotes, moving building materials and collecting eager family members keen to get their hands dirty as my partner and I had just received the keys to our new home.
This facelifted model builds on an already solid product and has been revised both inside minor aesthetic changes and further quality improvements. In terms of quality, Kia in general ranks highly and the Sorento has scored well with the recent JD Power initial quality study taking first place for its segment. This background provided a sense of certainty that nothing should go wrong during a particularly manic time period for me and boy did the Sorento 2,2 CRDi AWD EX step up to the task.
The Kia Sorento is one of the best all-round 7-seat SUV’s in the business with a trusted 2.2-litre turbodiesel mated to a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission, its got enough grunt with 147kW and 440 Nm. Tipping the scales at 1 932 kg this flagship AWD model it no lightweight yet it managed a respectable 8.1-litres over a hard 720 km travelled during its week spent with us.
On the road, the Sorento’s cabin is well insulated and I often caught myself exceeding the legal speed limit due to its smooth and refined ride. Thankfully the use of standard cruise control helps to keep your speed in check even when heading downhill. It is a large vehicle and its sheer size can be felt when parking but it doesn’t feel cumbersome when threading through tight traffic. Standard Parking sensors front and rear as well as a rearview camera help with parking manoeuvres. It’s nearly 5-metres long after all.
The interior benefits from its overall exterior dimensions with the driver and passenger seats feeling as though they’re situated in very far apart. Albeit not the most exciting interior, with a few hard plastics in less obvious areas, it is well put together and very well packaged with intuitive ergonomics. This test unit and 13 000 km on the clock with not a single rattle or squeak to report.
What about a toolbox, power tools, buckets, cleaning materials, a ladder, 60 litres of paint and four adults? No problem. With a total luggage capacity of 1 662 litres, 605 with the second row of seats up and 142 litres available with the third in place, there is enough room for a meaningful trip to the local Builders Warehouse and then some. Unlike many 3-row SUV’s the Sorento can actually seat adults and growing kids comfortably right at the back, especially when compared to something like the Fortuner where sitting in the third row is a bit of a punishment for adults. It’s well specced with too, with reclining rear seats, dual-zone climate control, rear USB-ports, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment centre with a slick satellite navigation system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality plus a powerful 6-speaker system and that’s only to mention a few of the toys.
It’s lower than ladder chassis, SUV’s such the popular Toyota Fortuner and Ford Everest so if looking down on people while at the traffic lights is your thing then maybe you should look elsewhere. A ground clearance of 185 mm is more than acceptable for rough gravel roads and perfect for pavement hopping outside your little one’s rugby match on Saturday and the AWD system has been proven to be more capable than first expected.
With a 5 year/100 000 km service plan as standard the Sorento is a great long-term buy and with comparable space and practicality to the likes of the Land Rover Discovery (sure it’s the ultimate off-roader) this flagship AWD Sorento undercuts the poverty-spec Landy by a whopping R320 000, and that’s before the R23 000 7-seat option is selected. Sure R654 995 is not a small amount of money by any stretch of the imagination but if you are serious about a 7-seat SUV with mild off-road capabilities, space, a long stand-features list and proven robustness the Sorento deserves to be considered.
In a nutshell
Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDi AWD EX
A large, practical, well-equipped family SUV done right and with proper seating for passengers 6 and 7
Fortuner drivers continue to overlook it, lacks interior style
Engine: 2 191 cc, 4-cylinder turbo diesel
Power: 147 kW @ 3 800 rpm, 440 Nm @ 1 750 rpm
Performance: 0-100 km/h in 9.4 sec
Top speed: 203 km/h
Tyres: 235/60 R18
Economy: 7.8 l/100 km (claimed)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
CO2 emissions: 170 g/km
Price: R654 995