Robin Reviews…The Kia Sorento SXL AWD

Korean auto brands – specifically Kia – have come their own over the last couple of decades. Where they once were frowned upon either due to design or mechanical prowess, that is no longer the case. Now customers are spoiled for choice in various segments with some compelling options. One of them is the Sorento.

The family-orientated SUV started its life in 2002 and has become a mainstay of Kia’s global line-up, with more than three million models being sold worldwide since. Locally, the Sorento sits at the head of Kia’s ‘S’ SUV line-up, including the Sonet, Seltos, and Sportage.

Compared to the first generation (based on a ladder-frame chassis) and second generation (based on a monocoque chassis), for example, the new fourth-generation model is based on the firm’s ‘N3’ platform and is made up of a blend of steel and aluminium, maximising torsional rigidity. No, it’s not a bunch of fancy engineering jargon because you can feel how sturdy the chassis is on the road with virtually no body roll – and this for a chunky seven-seater that measures in at 4 810mm. Depending on the trim level chosen, 18 or 19-inch alloy wheel options are available.

The exterior is especially intriguing with Kia’s trademark ‘tiger nose’ grille, ‘tiger eyeline’ LED DRLs, and wrap-around vertical tailights. Additionally, customers can choose from a range of 10 body colours.

A ‘Smartstream’ four-cylinder turbodiesel 2.2-litre engine is the only option offered in the range and does the business under the bonnet with figures of 148kW and 440Nm (which is 38.2kg lighter than the one in the third-generation model) which is mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. Instead of a traditional gear lever, there is a rotary gear shift-by-wire dial that makes cog swapping very seamless and adds to the design fluidity in the cabin.

The drive and feel

You can feel the linear delivery of power sent to all four wheels no matter which driving mode (Comfort, Eco or Sport) you are in and where fuel consumption is concerned. Over five days of regular driving, I managed to obtain a respectable figure of 7.6-litre per 100km. That figure will surely drop more when the engine is given time to ‘settle’ (it had less than 5 000km on the clock).

As you’d expect of an R800 000 car, the interior is plush and premium, fitted with all the niceties. The dashboard is a complete digital affair with an MBUX-like 12.3-inch digital driver instrument cluster and 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment, both of which houses an intuitive reverse surround camera and comes with Android Auto & Apple CarPlay.

There are also two USB chargers in the front, two more for second-row passengers, and two USB charging sockets integrated into the backs of the two front seats, with a third at the rear of the front-row centre console. Third-row passengers also have their own charging points, which means that all seven occupants can charge their devices simultaneously.

I was so glad to have received the Sorento to use for end-of-month shopping because I knew the boot space would be more than sufficient, rated at 821-litres. With all seven seats in place, there is a total capacity of 187-litres to utilise, and additionally, there are controls in the side wall of the boot that allows users to fold down the second-row seatbacks at the touch of a button.

The flagship SXL model also comes with a range of extras like a 12-speaker BOSE surround sound system, panoramic sunroof, and smart cruise control. Also enhancing the comfortability factor is a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, and driver memory power seat with cushion extension.

Kia’s Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) is packed to the rafters with the best safety features available. The package includes Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA), Blindspot View Monitor (BVM), Around View Monitor (AVM), Blindspot Collision Avoidance Assist (BCA), Smart Cruise Control (SCC), Lane Following Assist (LFA), Driver Attention Warning (DAW) and the fitment of six airbags.

The Sorento goes up against some formidable competition in the form of the Ford Everest (priced from R588 300), Isuzu MU-X (priced from R725 500), Toyota Fortuner (priced from R623 200), and Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace (priced from R685 100).

Spec and pricing

EX+ 2WD 8DCT – R809 995

EX+ AWD 8DCT – R849 995

SX AWD 8DCT – R914 995

SXL AWD 8DCT – R988 995

All models come standard with an unlimited kilometre, five-year warranty inclusive of roadside assistance, as well as a six-year or 90 000km maintenance plan.

Now that you’ve got the knowledge, it’s time to shop! Head to gumtree.co.za or your Gumtree app (click for Apple & Android) and don’t forget to use your location settings to find local automotive vehicle information close to home.

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