Test all limits in the Nissan Navara
Test all limits in the Nissan Navara

Adventure time in the latest KIA Sorento

The KIA Sorento has been defined as an adventure SUV, one which will transport you and your family in comfort and safety. It will deal with various road conditions and even a few gravel roads…. but that’s what they say. Here at Adventure Afrika we needed to put the press release promises to the test to establish whether the latest KIA Sorento is worth a consideration if you are in the market for a vehicle that can satisfy your adventurous lifestyle.

KIA Motors South Africa graciously lent us the keys to the latest Sorento in EX guise. This means that you get amenities such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, auto-folding mirrors with side mirror indicator, LED daytime running lights, auto light control with welcome home function, parking sensors (front and rear); as well as a rear-view camera to name but a few things.

The exterior design of the Kia Sorento can be considered somewhat handsome thanks to a dominant front end, chrome-like grille and sculptured bumper. The Sorento also looks longer than most other SUV offerings in the segment due to its narrow side window profile and lack of curvature in the window line, a feature which I quite like. The rear is also tastefully designed thanks to LED rear taillights, a large roof spoiler and silver elements on the lower bumper. The model which we sampled was fitted with 235/60 R18 tyres all round which provided decent impact protection when our route became littered with potholes.

About the route

When we received confirmation that the Sorento was heading our way we needed to plan a trip that the typical Sorento owner would embark on. After much consideration and research, we opted for a trip to the picturesque Mapesu Private Game Reserve as the ideal testing ground for the KIA Sorento. Mapesu is a game reserve in the Limpopo Province, a few kilometres from the town of Alldays. Roughly 500 kilometres from Pretoria with most travel time being spent on the N1 highway, the reserve adjoins the Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site.

Once through Polokwane the road becomes somewhat unpredictable with potholes appearing every  now and then, caution should be given. That said though the Sorento handled the trip to Mapesu with ease by offering a comfortable driving experience. The 605-litres of luggage capacity also came in handy as did the fact that the capacity can be increased to around 1662-litres when the rear seats are lowered.

Adding to the experience

The interior of the Sorento is well put together with decent plastics, leather and soft-touch elements. Our test unit was also fitted with dark wood trim which added an extra sense of class in my opinion. The rear passengers benefit from rear side window shades as well as ventilation. The interior also features a host of USB ports and our vehicle featured a wireless phone charger. The infotainment screen is easy to use however once you connect your smartphone and make use of either Apple CarPlay or Andriod Auto life just becomes better.

Another aspect of the Sorento which added to the overall comfort level was indeed the engine, in this case, a 2.2-litre turbo diesel unit that develops 147kW and 440Nm of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels via a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic gearbox which goes about its business without notice. The Sorento offers various driving modes such as Econ, Comfort and Sport. Most of our trip was done in Comfort which is the default setting. It still provided enough throttle mapping to pull off easy overtaking and not once did any of us feel that more power was needed however the vehicle did average around 8.8l/100km, a far cry from the claimed 6.5l/100km.

What about the all-wheel-drive?

The team at Mapesu has implemented a few self-driving routes within the reserve. The roads have been cleared and somewhat smoothed out to make it easier for SUVs and even crossovers to navigate the dense mopane bush in search of a variety of animals which include Elephant, Rhino and even Cheetah. The Sorento impressed with its levels of grip thanks to a central differential lock mode. The KIA predominantly sends its power to the front wheels but it can send power to the rear wheels when it detects that more rear grip is needed.

The 185mm of ground clearance is impressive however we did hear a few knocks now and then, perhaps a higher profile tyre would provide for more clearance. Unfortunately, there are some areas on the reserve where the KIA will not go, it is up to the driver to use their discernment and to know the limits of their vehicle. Thankfully the reserve does offer a fleet of game-view vehicles which one can pre-book.

In conclusion, the Kia Sorento remains a favourite of mine within the segment. The interior space, as well as 7-seat functionality, is impressive. It offers great levels of comfort and the motor is noteworthy. What is also worth mentioning is the fact that the Sorento as well as Kia has won numerous awards, including the JD Power award for quality six years in a row. Yes, the Sorento is not a full-blown bundu bashing SUV and lacks the clearance of such vehicles but it will easily do the weekly commute demanded by the city; while offering you the ability to experience a new adventure over the weekends.

  • Kia Sorento 2.2CRDi AWD EX: R716 995
    • 5-year/100 000 km Service Plan
    • Unlimited kilometre warranty

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