13 April 2018

Kia Sorento 2018 Car Review

Kia recently updated its seven-seater SUV, the headliner being an eight-speed auto transmission that was designed in-house for stronger acceleration, and reduced emissions. But it also got subtle alterations to the look via revised bumpers, head- and tail lights, and new alloy wheels – 18-inchers in our EX test vehicle.

Kia Sorrento jm 18 crop
Kia Sorento
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Kia Sorento
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Kia Sorento
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Kia Sorento
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Kia Sorento

 Inside the front pews get better lumbar control, a new design for the steering wheel and instrument cluster, and for tech-heads, there’s full Smartphone integration plus Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

But to be honest, few buyers will be attracted by the changes as much as they are to the practicality of what is effectively a big, all-wheel-drive wagon along the lines of Mazda’s CX-9.

That new transmission lets you choose different drive modes, Eco, Comfort, Sport and Smart, which basically tailor engine response between better fuel economy or stronger acceleration, as well as the ‘weight’ felt at the steering wheel. Can’t be bothered? Smart should work it out for you, taking readings of driver input and road to deliver what the electronic nannies figure will best suit.

But forget electronic nannies, they won’t keep the kids quiet come carpool time, and that’s when the extra row of seats will come in handy.

We put an average-sized women into that third row, and she was too squashed to want to go far, but the two rearmost seats will be great for carrying the kids’ friends to school or the pool. One or both pull up easily out of the floor, or fold flat. With all three rows in use, they do restrict boot space to 142 litres – which is likely still ample for school bags or towels.

Got more to load? Fold the third row down for a 605-litre cargo space with five seats in use, or fold any combination of row two’s slide-and-recline seats – the centre is a skinny pew – to give a maximum 1662 litres and a flat load floor; watch for small items falling into the footwell…Still not enough? Those roof rails carry up to 100kg.

Once underway Sorento’s turbodiesel delivers decent urge off the line, with Smart mode clever enough that you don’t need to fiddle about with settings unless, like our tester, you have a steep, second-gear ascent to tackle, or you plan a long highway stretch where you may want to select Eco; that said, Smart is likely to work out you’re cruising and do that job for you.

This is a big, heavy vehicle at around two tons, but provided you don’t make like Greg Murphy on song it corners well, with tyre whine only if pushed, and ride is as compliant as you’d expect. Smart mode effectively delivers light steering at round-town speeds, which will be appreciated when manoeuvring round the school commute – and while we’re on that topic, view out is good, ably assisted by parking monitors, blind spot monitor and an effective rear-view camera.

It’s easy to get comfy up front, whatever your size, given eight-way electric seat adjust with two-way lumbar support, and telescopic as well as tilt steering (we’re looking at you, ute designers, those without should get telescopic adjust!). And while we’re talking comfort, there’s remote keyless entry, great when your arms are full of schoolbags.

The rest of the features list includes lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert – fabulous when backing out of car parks – and, when you’re towing, trailer stability assist. There’s climate control air and rain-sensing wipers but no satnav – most folk can use their phones for that nowadays – but there is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus Bluetooth connectivity for your Smartphone. Perhaps fortunately, there are USB charging points front and rear, as well as 12V chargers plus – a favourite of this tester – an extendable sunvisor, to assist vision when the road is bendy and the sun is bright.

Off-roading? That’s not what these soft-roaders are about. They’re any-roads do-it-all family wagons which deliver the sort of safety features and road grip to impart peace of mind in even the gnarliest conditions.

All four Sorento variants are now diesel – if you want the 2WD V6 you can get it on order, but the 2.4 petrol is no longer available. That’s unlikely to faze buyers given a diesel of this size is cheaper to fill, which leaves more cash in the wallet for those after-school ice creams. 

At a glance


Kia Sorento EX


2.2-litre DOHC CRDi turbo diesel


$48,990 +ORC ($59,990+ORC RRP when offer expires)

ANCAP safety rating


Power and Torque

 147kW at 3800rpm, 441Nm at 1750 to 2750rpm


 Eight-speed auto with sequential shift

Fuel economy


Towing capacity

2000kg braked



Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload

142 to 1662 litres, with all seats in use, to all rears folded

Safety systems

Six airbags

Advanced traction cornering control

Front and rear park sensors, reversing camera

Blind spot detection

Land change assist

Rear cross traffic alert

Tyre pressure monitoring

Trailer stability assist

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