25 May 2013
The old Sorento was a tough 4x4 workhorse that could tow a laden horse box up Ben Nevis, almost. But seeking broader appeal the all-new 7-seater Sorento is comfier, quieter, more family orientated and stylish. And itís now even available in 2WD guise, but has it gone too soft?
The new Sorento comes with either a 172bhp 4cyl 2.4-litre petrol engine (front wheel drive, manual only) or a 194bhp 4cyl 2.2-litre CRDi with 2 or 4WD and either manual or auto transmission. I drove a manual 4WD CRDi and was impressed. With 411Nm (311lb/ft) of torque it has 30Nm more grunt than the outgoing 2.5-litre model, and the new Sorento motor is quiet, smooth and refined. Performance is quoted as 0-62 in 9.6secs and 118mph max Ė more than adequate, but it feels swifter still. In short itís equally at home negotiating a steep, twisting lane or barrelling along an empty motorway.
The old Sorento had a body-on-frame chassis. The new one has a one-piece monocoque construction, which is less ideal for seriously heavyweight towing duties. With no dual-range transmission or diff locks the new carís off-roading capabilities are moderate. I drove a few carefree miles along a bouncy unmade track and, helped by a reasonable 184mm of ground clearance (19mm less than the old model), the 4WD Sorento made light work of it, but at a pinch I could probably have covered the same ground in a front-drive hatchback. On road the Sorento rides comfortably, steers well, doesnít roll unduly in corners and is completely civilised, whether trickling around town or pressing on at speed.
Perhaps undeservedly, Korean-built Kias have a reputation for being built down to a price. Although this may still be so in some cases (Kia scored just below average in the 2009 JD Power Satisfaction Study) thereís really nothing about the new Sorento that gives any indication of any corners having been cut. Fit and finish appear good, and without actually measuring tolerances, the Sorento gives an overall impression of quality. Inside the plastics and leather are almost sumptuous, while the dash, switches and especially the instrumentation wouldnít look out of place in a premium brand car costing substantially more.
All Sorentos have the same safety specification, regardless of model, and this spec includes: ABS with EBD, ESC (Electronic Stability Control) with DBC (Downhill Brake Control) which maintains a steady 5mph on steep descents. Thereís also HAC (Hill-start Assist Control) which prevents wheelspin or rolling back when setting off on steep and/or slippery slopes. Six airbags (twin-front, side and side curtains) are standard, as are active front headrests, front seatbelt pre-tensioners with load limiters and ISOFIX child-seat mounting points with top tethers and anchors. All this adds up to the Sorento having the full 5-star EuroNCAP rating. Security is handled, in part, by remote central deadlocks, as well as a coded smart key on higher spec models.
The new Sorento is 95mm longer than the model it replaces and this allows for 2/3/2 seating in three rows. Thereís ample comfort and space in all directions for adults in the first two rows, while the two, standard equipment third row seats are for small people. The second row splits 60/40 and double folds, although you may need to consult the ownerís manual to see how the double-fold works, as I couldnít. With 15% more luggage space thereís now 531-litres in 5-seater mode, or a capacious 1,525-litres in 2-seater mode. As a 7-seater thereís a measly 111-litres, but at least you always have the choiceÖ
Prices for the new Sorento start at £20,495 for the basic 2WD version, and rise to £29,795 for the top-of-the-range KX-3 spec auto CRDi 4WD. The manual KX-2 spec CRDi 4WD I drove is listed at £25,495, and for that you get: black leather upholstery, dual climate control, a 6-speaker audio system (with USB, Aux and an iPod/iPhone input cable), all-round electric windows, cruise control, heated front seats, privacy glass, reversing sensors and more. Fuel consumption is 42.8mpg combined with CO2 at 174g/km (band H/£175 annual road tax). Itís a tempting package, but the clincher could well be Kiaís unique 7-year/100,000-mile warranty.
Submitted: 02/02/2010 09:03:08
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