It’s the quintessential seven-seat family-hauler, it’s the car that has already won a few car of the year awards, it’s the 2021 Kia Sorento.
I managed to get my hands on one of the most anticipated family cars of the year, took it for a drive, and even ventured off-road!
Let’s find out what makes the fourth generation Kia Sorento just so great.
Build Quality4.4 out of 5.
Kia is making strides in improving the build quality of their cars, both inside and out.
The Sorento offers a level of superior quality, it’s one of the best value-for-money propositions in the market.
When you open the doors on the new Sorento you can immediately feel a certain ‘heft’ and weight to them. This sensation of closing a heavy door is something you would normally expect to see on more expensive vehicles.
The Sorento’s doors close with a reassuring ‘thump’, which all seems engineered to generate a greater sense of luxury with this SUV.
The weight of that door isn’t exactly truthful, there is the hint of that classic cheaper car ‘tin’ sound that the door handles make when they snap back against the doors. Giving away that the weight of the door isn’t being entirely truthful.
The Sorento is more than impressive for its asking price on the inside.
I can’t remember the last car I jumped into and felt as if the interior didn’t match my thoughts of the brand, for the better.
It’s difficult to not help but feel proud of Kia for stepping up the quality of their cars this much.
There’s plenty of high-quality materials used here, alongside plush leather seats. Features are aplenty in this cabin, and the dual screens used for the infotainment and driver’s display all ooze a sense that this is a high-grade car.
Overall, the fit, finish and products used throughout the Sorento are of a standard that no longer makes you yearn to one day own the likes of a Range Rover. Instead, when it comes to quality, you’re likely to be beyond content with your purchase of a Sorento GT-Line.
Value for Money4.8 out of 5.
The car I had for the week was the GT-Line Diesel, which is the range-topping version.
Priced at $67,290 drive-away, this is certainly heading towards the expensive end of most people’s budgets.
The Sorento range starts off at $49,290 drive-away, which is a petrol, front-wheel drive model.
You’ll want the diesel motor for the Sorento in any trim, and you’ll want a model as close as you can to the GT-Line. I found the GT-Line to be the model that really outshines European brands in this class, with the long list of features, the AWD drivetrain and with its diesel motor.
Other seven-seaters in this class include the Mazda CX-9, Toyota Kluger and the Skoda Kodiaq.
All I can say is that many large publications have listed the new Sorento as their car of the year. These awards reinforce my sentiment that the Sorento represents excellent value for money.
This car both acts as a class leader for seven-seaters under $70,000, but also gives the luxury SUVs a run for their money.
Cleaning and Maintenance4.6 out of 5.
Seven-seaters are BIG and relatively tall cars - the Sorento is no exception.
Cleaning is going to be challenging for those of a shorter-stature, so you’ll be better off sending this to the local car-wash if you must. However, after a stint off-road in the Sorento, I found it easy to hose-down and wash this family wagon.
The best part about buying a Kia in 2021 is the warranty, which is offered up to 7 years/unlimited kilometres.
Kia also offers capped price servicing for the Sorento over these seven years, but only up to 105,000km.
Your total cost of servicing over seven years comes to $3,463 - a fair price to pay for this amount of services. Here’s the breakdown of those services:
|1 Year or 15,000 km||$335|
|2 Years or 30,000 km||$544|
|3 Years or 45,000 km||$408|
|4 Years or 60,000 km||$729|
|5 Years or 75,000 km||$377|
|6 Years or 90,000 km||$670|
|7 Years or 105,000 km||$400|
For a large family SUV, it’s a relief to know that you have a bit of certainty around your running costs.
Noise Level4.3 out of 5.
Sound isolation in the Sorento was impressive to say the least.
Road, wind and traffic noise was sufficiently kept out of the cabin, which translated to a relaxing ride for both the driver and the passenger.
The diesel motor likes to make itself known under heavier acceleration, so it’s not going to be library-quiet in here. Being distinctly diesel in its ability to sound a little like a tractor, It’s not exactly a pleasant engine tone either.
The sound system in the Sorento was better than expected, largely thanks to the Bose-branded audio it’s decked out with.
Podcasts, music and phone calls all sound great inside; there’s plenty of depth and clarity throughout the cabin when listening through the system.
Quiet Mode’ feature in the Sorento lets you play audio solely through the front speakers, leaving your rear seat passengers to sleep in peace - this is quite the thoughtful touch for a family car.
Braking4.4 out of 5.
Although you’re hauling two tonnes of SUV, it certainly doesn’t feel like it when you come to a stop. Pedal feel in the brakes is as you would hope it would feel, with this Kia offering smooth operation of the Sorento when pulling up.
The car is fitted with autonomous emergency braking, which is activated if you have rear-cross traffic, someone in your blind spot, or have a car, pedestrian, or cyclist cross your path.
Acceleration/Power4.3 out of 5.
The Sorento I tested was fitted with Kia’s 2.2L 4 cylinder diesel engine, which produces 148kW at 3600rpm and 440Nm at 1,750-2,750rpm. Coupled with this engine is an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission, which performs exceptionally well.
0-100km/h figures are in the mid 9’s, which is typical of a car in this segment with this motor. If you’re looking for performance, you might need a second car.
Thanks to the torque, power delivery is strong throughout acceleration and smooth when you need it to be.
The new Sorento is rated to tow up to 2 tonnes (braked), allowing you to hook most trailers up to it. However, towing a caravan behind this family car might prove to be a bit tricky.
I’ve never found myself yearning for more power both on and off-road while driving the Sorento. You can rest assured that this motor not only has enough power to carry all your passengers and their luggage, but will also return conservative fuel-economy figures too!
Gear Shifting4.6 out of 5.
Although the Sorento possesses an 8-speed dual-clutch, it’s the opposite of how you would expect a transmission like this to behave.
Traditionally, dual-clutch transmissions result in a jerky ride at low speeds, not to mention the possible need for transmission repairs if you’ve been in bumper to bumper traffic for most of your life.
I can’t speak for the longevity of this transmission, but at least you have a 7 year warranty just in case.
I can, however, speak for the performance of the gearbox. Even though this is an 8-speed transmission, shifts are smooth and decisive. It doesn’t jump around trying to figure out which gear it needs to be in.
Crawling in traffic didn’t phase the Sorento - instead, it handled peak hour with ease.
Out on the open road, the Sorento was able to cruise without the need to hold revs excessively, and was able to drop a gear as soon as you needed it to.
There were paddle-shifters fitted to the Sorento, I’m not sure why you’d ever feel the need to shift yourself in a car primarily focused on comfort.This car does have a ‘Sports Mode, so I can only assume the paddles are there just for those looking for a bit more thrill when they drive.
Comfort is a key requirement in the new Sorento, and the gearbox’s performance goes a long way in achieving that.
Suspension & Handling4.5 out of 5.
The Sorento will conquer the potholes and speed bumps that you’ll most likely encounter when rushing for the school pick-up or drop-off.
Even when riding on wheels as big as these, this SUV offered absolute comfort across a variety of surfaces. Whether it’s traversing tarmac, gravel or snow; the Sorento tackles it all.
The suspension offers a more firm yet forgiving ride, allowing you to feel the road a little more but without the body roll.
The Sorento fails to wallow or dip in corners, which can be typical of larger SUVs. Instead, there’s a confidence-inspiring amount of grip through corners thanks partly to the AWD system.
If you plan on heading off-road to a campsite or through the snow, the Sorento has a selection of terrain-response modes that help provide more grip for when you need it most. A feature like this is rare around this price point and is usually reserved for the likes of a Land Rover.
Fuel Efficiency4.5 out of 5.
Kia claims a combined consumption figure of 6.1L/100km. I managed to average around 9.5L/100km, which was impressive nonetheless.
This was achieved predominantly in urban areas with plenty of heavy acceleration, and even then, the car was well under 10L/100km. For a modern four-cylinder diesel, it’s surprisingly efficient.
The Sorento possesses a 65L fuel tank, which should give you anywhere from 600-1000km of range. You can expect to pay around $87 for a full tank.
Interior Design4.8 out of 5.
If you think the exterior looks a little restrained, the interior design is sure to win you over. This is the standout upgrade for the fourth generation Sorento.
I’m of the mindset that interior design is always more important than exterior design as it’s where you’ll be spending most of your time with the car.
The instrument binnacle is akin to that of a Mercedes setup with an instrument binnacle that stretches from the centre display through to the driver’s display. A pair of 10.3 inch displays are placed adjacent to one-another and are the main focus point of the cabin.
Along the dashboard and doors are diamond shaped cut-outs that add not only visual flair during the day, but at night, are backlit in a colour of your choosing from 64 options.
The touch-capacitive climate controls reduce the number of physical buttons placed on the dash,bringing down the amount of visual clutter in the cabin.
Below that, your eyes are drawn to the cylindrical shifter, which also appears to be a leaf out of a Land Rover’s book. It works well to bring a level of class into the cabin without feeling cheap.
Seats are blissfully bolstered with quilted stitching, adding more visual flair to this cabin.
There are a generous amount of USB ports, 8 to be precise. This leads me to what this cabin represents:
The Sorento’s interior is meant to give adults the space to relax, unwind and enjoy, while leaving the kids and passengers with plenty of space and amenities such as rear heated seats or third-zone climate control for comfortable long journeys.
Boot Size & Comfort4.7 out of 5.
The Sorento features a minimum of 187L boot space with all 7 seats up, 616L with 5 seats up and a massive 2,011L with all seats folded flat.
When all the seats are upright, there isn’t much space left for more than a couple of backpacks.
Having driven a 7-seater most of my life, I can assure you that the rear seats will mostly be folded down and out of the way, which gives you a far more usable boot.
The boxy design and flat-folding nature of the seats mean you have a large rectangular space with no awkward obstacles to avoid in the name of style. It’s easy to fold the middle row, too. With an electronically controlled one-touch button, you can fold either side of the seats in the middle row, all from the boot. However, it’s annoying that in a car this big, you still have a 60:40 split in the middle row. This can be a nuisance when you want to make the most of the interior space whilst carrying 4 people.
In relation to comfort (there are front heated/cooled seats, middle row heated seats and third-row climate controls), the middle row is extremely versatile.
The Sorento’s construction has led to a relatively flat floor for middle seat occupants, making it easy for people to move around in the back seats. You can seat 5 adults comfortably without feeling like you’re in a sardine can.
Additionally, the front passenger seats have controls that can move the front seat for the rear left passenger. You’re able to move the front passenger seat out of the way, making the rear left seat the most comfortable in the entire cabin.
The middle row can slide forwards and backwards and tilt upright or recline. It means that long trips in the Sorento with your passengers will be a comfortable affair.
Add adaptive radar cruise control, active lane-keep assist and active steering assist and you can make either the daily commute, or that long day of road tripping, just that little bit more relaxed.
Don’t forget, this has Kia’s ‘Sounds of Nature’ feature which allows you to relax by listening to the sounds of a rainforest through to the sounds of a busy cafe.
Features4.8 out of 5.
Part of the reason why the Sorento is best in it’s class is its long list of features.
From safety tech, convenience, through to its engine and drivetrain - the Sorento does it all exceptionally well for its asking price.
The best feature? Smart park! You can move the Sorento forwards and backwards without having to be in the car at all. Which seems like a gimmick at first, after using it, I didn’t mind parking so close to a wall, instead, the car could just drive out for me without having to contort myself into the Sorento.
Here’s a list of these features below:
- 2.2L 4-cylinder Diesel
- 8-Speed DCT Automatic Transmission
- 10.25 inch colour touch screen
- Driver Talk in-car intercom
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- DAB Radio
- BOSE premium sound system (12 speakers)
- Blind Spot Cameras
- Blind Spot Collision Avoidance Assist
- Active Lane Keep Assist
- Active Steering Assist
- 360 degree Camera
- Radar Cruise Control
- Trailer Stability Assist
- 750kg Towing Capacity (unbraked)
- 2,000kg Towing Capacity (braked)
- 200kg Towball Download
- Front Heated and Cooled Seats
- Rear Outer Heated Seats
- Automatic Headlights and Wipers
- Wireless Phone Charging
- Total of 8 USB ports
- Interior Mood Lighting (64 colours)
- Colour Heads-up Display
- 12.3" TFT Drivers Display
Should you buy one?
The Sorento is a wonderful family machine.
Any seven seat family car needs to be reliable, comfortable, enjoyable and capable - all of which the Sorento achieves.
The Sorento has the warranty and capped price servicing to cover you in the running costs department. You won’t need to stress about finding another car for a while once you’ve chosen the Sorento.
Being comfortable is what the Sorento does very well. From its relaxed yet direct ride, through to a long list of creature comforts, including heated seats for four.
It’s an enjoyable car. It looks good, purposeful in its design, and it's usable as a large family car so you won’t ever have to stress about space or whether your occupants are comfortable.
Finally, it's capable. Not only on road, but off-road. With a selection of off-road modes, the Sorento will take you and your family on adventures that would have other front-wheel drive alternatives shaking in their tires.
You should buy a Sorento if you need the space of a seven seater, and comfort. If you want a lot of room for four people, this also offers a great alternative to the more expensive and larger SUV’s on the market.
About the author
Cameron is your typical car nut, but also drives and writes about cars for ProductReview.
Great car apart from the electrics.
Purchased a demo MY17 Sorento GT Line with 1000km on the clock. Car was brilliant.... the best I had ever owned... until 12 months ago. Then all sorts of weird electrical things started going wrong with it. Too many issues to list but the critical one is that the car would turn itself on.... yes I kid you not.... by itself in the middle of the night. Not the engine but it would power up all of the electrics and blaze away with the headlights. The neighbours got used to this and would let me know when they saw it.... but in the past year it left...me stranded 4 times when no one caught it and I came out in the morning to start the car but the battery was completely flat. Went to multiple Kia dealers about this... most thought I was mad and couldn't see anything wrong with the car. Made a faraday cage for the keys in case they were going screwy... this did nothing. The roadside assist guys that came out whenever my battery was flat had never heard of anything like this in their careers. Auto electrician could find nothing wrong either. There were multiple other weird electric things happening intermittently on seemingly unrelated systems.... but the killer was the car leaving me stranded multiple times. I need reliability. Cut my losses..... sold it and bought a Mitsubishi Paid to Sport. This will be my fifth Mitsubishi and they have always been bulletproof for me.
Purchased in May 2017.
Recently purchased a Sorento GT.. Initial reaction was WOW, after living with the vehicle for a month now you realise whilst quality is up there, you need to be wary of a couple of things that may annoy you after a while. I noticed a lot of "road noise" from the 19" wheels on GT model, i've read that the 18' and 17' don't suffer from this. The standard tyres are Hankook, I think i'll swap out for Michelin or something quieter. The new 8 speed transmission is really smooth, although I notice around 60kph it gets a bit confused which gear it shou...ld be in and chooses 3 different spots before settling in place, It also feels quite disconnected when going downhill I think this is a characteristic of this transmission rather than a fault - It also may well be because the vehicle is still new and all parts are still settling in. I had a really poor dealership experience which turned me off a little bit, but it's not the cars fault. I would prefer this offering over anything from Germany as I believe it would be more reliable in the long term. If you purchase this vehicle for mainly city driving or short trips, you should note the GT only comes in Diesel and is fitted with a DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter) and will need a regular run of 20+ mins at a temp hot enough to burn the ash. The dealers tend not to tell you this, but it is not a problem for myself as I have mixed driving but city dwellers may want to consider the petrol version (although not an option in GT!) As said above the Hankook tyres are crap they're really noisy in this model which is a shame as they have fitted so much sound deadening material. The rear brakes are noisy at low speed also but this could be due to being new, time will tell I guess. At the end of the day a vehicle maker will not back their product with a 7 year warranty if they think they will see you all the time with vehicle problems, I note at this goes for the diesel model as with other makers the "DPF" is not covered under warranty, so if you clog this up and the dealership cannot clean/unblock it, it will cost $1000's of dollars to replace so keep this in mind when choosing this vehicle.
|Category||Large / 7 Seater SUVs|
|Drive Type||All Wheel Drive (AWD)|
|Fuel Consumption||7.2 L/100km|
|Engine||4 Cylinder 2.2L|
|Max Power||147kW @ 3800rpm|
|Max Torque||441Nm @ 1750-2750rpm|
|Country of Manufacture||South Korea|
|Maximum Towing Capacity (unbraked)||750 kg|
|Release date||Oct 2016|
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