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FIRST DRIVE | 2022 Kia Sorento excites with sharper styling and more tech

03 February 2022 - 07:40
A restyle gives the new Sorento a more assertive road presence. Picture: SUPPLIED
A restyle gives the new Sorento a more assertive road presence. Picture: SUPPLIED

Kia’s new-generation Sorento has arrived in SA boasting sharper styling, better cabin room and updated technology.

Pitched against rival SUVs such as the Mercedes-Benz GLC, BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Hyundai Santa Fe, the Korean import is available in a four-model range priced between R809,995 and R988,995, in two- and all-wheel drive versions.

A new interpretation of Kia’s trademark “tiger nose” grille gives this seven-seater a more assertive appearance, with the widened grille wrapping around integrated headlamps on each side. “Tiger eyeline” LED daytime running lights create a distinctive presence, while a skidplate adds a dash of off-road ruggedness to the design.

The fourth-generation Sorento is 10mm wider and 10mm longer than its predecessor (now 4,810mm), with the wheelbase stretched by 35mm to improve interior legroom.

The cabin has been smartened up with soft-touch surfaces and metallic décor creating an upmarket ambience, with a premium feel that doesn’t stand aside for any market-segment rival.

It is heavily digitised too, with a touchscreen infotainment system that in the higher models is complemented by a digital instrument panel for the driver. Family harmony on long-distance trips is ensured by USB charging points for all seven passengers.

A live view of the blind spot is projected in the instrument cluster when you activate the turn signal to change lanes. Picture: DENIS DROPPA
A live view of the blind spot is projected in the instrument cluster when you activate the turn signal to change lanes. Picture: DENIS DROPPA

The Sorento offers a variety of seating arrangements in its configurable cabin. There is ample space for tall adults in the first two rows which are all separately adjustable for backrest angle and leg room, while the tighter third row is suitable for kiddies. Boot space is a limited 187l with all seven seats in place but grows to a sizeable 821l with the back row stowed flat.

Cruising the open roads of the Cape’s Garden Route where the launch was held, the Sorento stretched its legs with refined gusto. The 2.2l turbo diesel engine translates its 148kW and 440Nm into an easy-going lope, and there’s enough brawn to confidently punch past long trucks when the need arises. The eight-speed dual-clutch transmission roams through its ratios with finesse, and the large vehicle sipped a miserly 7.2l /100km on the mostly open-road cruise.

The ride is plush, with a stiffer body shell and revised suspension contributing to reduced noise and vibration. Wind noise is also well muted and this family Kia sails along with a refinement befitting its elevated prices.

Those prices may be higher than some folk expect for a Kia, but the brand has paid its dues over the past decade or so, and now builds quality cars that stand shoulder-to-shoulder with traditionally more celebrated peers.

Cabin quality is up there with the best in class. Picture: SUPPLIED
Cabin quality is up there with the best in class. Picture: SUPPLIED

Comforts and features are plentiful as part of the standard package, in contrast with high-end German brands that usually ask extra money for their more premium gadgets.

The Sorento range kicks off with the two-wheel drive EX+ model and its spec sheet includes an 8-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, automatic headlamps and wipers, parking assist with a rear-view camera, an electric tailgate, rear sunshade blinds, and electrically adjustable front seats.

Moving up a notch, the mid-spec SX variant adds a 10.25-inch infotainment screen, the aforementioned digital instrument panel, heated and ventilated front seats, and advanced driver assistance systems like smart cruise control, lane-keeping assist and a blind spot monitor. The latter is one of the smartest car innovations I’ve experienced in recent times, as it projects a live view of the blind spot in the instrument cluster when you activate the turn signal to change lanes, meaning you don’t have to peer over your shoulder.

Nudging the R1m mark, the range-topping SXL model goes all out with high-end spec that includes a Bose surround sound with 12 speakers, dual LED headlamps, head-up display, panoramic sunroof and smart cruise control.

All-wheel drive models have a Terrain Mode Select which tweak the electronic stability control for different types of off-road turf, while all versions have a Mode Select for either punchier performance or better economy.

Pricing

Sorento 2.2 CRDi 7-Seater EX+ 2WD — R809,995

Sorento 2.2 CRDi 7-Seater EX+ AWD — R849,995

Sorento 2.2 CRDi 7-Seater SX AWD — R914,995

Sorento 2.2 CRDi 7-Seater SXL AWD — R988,995

Includes five-year/unlimited distance warranty (inclusive of roadside assistance) and six-year/90,000km maintenance plan.


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