Kia’s all-new Sorento ups its game

Kia’s fourth generation Sorento is now on sale locally, featuring a crisper design, all-new ‘large SUV’ platform, a revised 2.2 CRDI diesel engine, new dual-clutch transmission and a shedload of new tech features.  The seven-seater flagship has come a long way in 20 years of development, from a capable but not very polished ladder-framed workhorse in the 2002 first-gen, to today’s urban sophisticate based on a revised monocoque. Here are seven things that make the new Sorento stand out.

The exterior design is sharp and chiselled

The curves of the previous Sorento have been replaced with distinct character lines and a sportier swept-back profile. Standout features include the characteristic Kia ‘Tiger Shark’ grille that extends into and forms part of the LED headlight clusters, boldly upright tail lamps, an integrated boot spoiler and wide wheel flares. Front and rear bash plates impart a rugged aesthetic, even if they fall short of true function. Wheels come in 18- and 19-inch flavours, depending on derivative, and there are 10 colours to choose from.

It’s the first Kia to use the new N3 or ‘large SUV’ platform

The result is a more compact engine bay, shorter overhangs and a significant 35mm extra in the wheelbase, adding interior space for all three seating rows. It’s 10mm wider (to 1.9m) and 10mm taller, with real benefits including more bootspace (187 litres with the third row in place) and up to 821 litres with the third row folded flat. Access to the third row is improved as the second row slides 45mm further forward. More high-tensile steel is used in the bodyshell to add stiffness and reduce noise and vibration. Ride and handling has also been improved by many revisions to the structure and geometry of the all-independent suspension. The new platform is future-proofed, to allow for electrified powertrains.

A fresh drivetrain combination promises to deliver the goods

Kia put its 2.2 diesel four-pot on a weight-loss programme, and shed 38.2kg from the mass of the third-generation Sorento’s engine, of which 19.5kg came from swapping the cast iron block for aluminium. It’s now called a ‘Smartstream’ diesel, and puts out 148kW at 3800rpm and 440Nm of torque from 1750-2750rpm. Coupled with a new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, it should deliver smooth shifts and plenty of get up and go. All-wheel drive models also feature a new ‘Terrain Mode’ which is activated by a dial on the centre console and adapts torque delivery to all four wheels and moderates transmission shifts depending on the terrain.

It’s all premium and digital inside

Millenials will ooh and aaah over the screen real estate which spreads across the dash. It comprises a 12.3-inch driver’s instrument cluster, and central touchscreen for infotainment and navigation functions. Many car functions are controlled by haptic buttons on the edges of the centre screen. Top models feature a driver’s head-up display. Leather seats and trim, coupled with satin-effect plastics and chrome add the necessary premium touches, along with a six-speaker or 12-speaker Bose sound system. Two mobile devices can run simultaneously via Bluetooth up front, and there are seven USB charging points spread across all three rows.

Safety equipment is at a high level

Standard fitment includes Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Kia’s own Vehicle Stability Management (VSM). These make cornering and braking safer. Six airbags are standard. Model specific additions include a Forward Collision Avoidance system which detects roads hazards including pedestrians and cyclists, a Blindspot View Monitor, Around View Monitor, Lane Following Assist and Smart Cruise Control. New is a Multi-Collision Brake system which applies secondary braking after airbags are deployed in the event of a collision.

There are three trim grades

South Africa gets three trim grades, kicking off with the EX+ (in both 2WD and 4WD). Expect a smaller 8.0-inch touchscreen, electric front seats, electric tailgate, leather trim, LED headlamps, PDC front and rear with rear-view camera and 18-inch wheels.

Next up is SX trim, only in All-Wheel Drive, and adding the 11.3-inch central touchscreen, 12.3-inch instrument cluster, heated and vented front seats, wireless phone charging, most of the camera-based safety features outlined above, and 19-inch wheels.

The flagship SXL derivative (available from March this year) adds 12-speaker Bose sound, dual LED headlamps (high/low beam), Smart Cruise Control, a head-up display and panoramic sunroof.

Pricing is good and there’s an inclusive service plan

This full import made at Kia’s Hwasung facility in Korea comes with a highly inclusive six-year/90 000km service plan that adds in many of the wear items that other manufacturers leave off. The warranty is a generous five-year/unlimited kilometre offering. Pricing is as follows:

EX+ 2WD 8DCT         R809 995

EX+ AWD 8DCT         R849 995

SX AWD 8DCT           R914 995

SXL AWD 8DCT         R988 995

*For more info on this newcomer:

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