KIA SORENTO SI AWD AUTO
IF PEOPLE take the ‘‘populate or perish’’ adage too far, then a people-mover becomes the preferred mode of transport. The boom in seven-seat vehicles shows the difficulty some have in reining in their reproduction.
Gone are the mini-buses of old, though, and such broods get about in highriding SUVs. The updated Kia Sorento rates as one of the picks of the pack. The latest iteration is technically a facelift but the changes are comprehensive rather than cosmetic and make the already good seven-seat SUV even better. VALUE The Si model is the entry point for the 3.5-litre V6 petrol and 2.2-litre turbo diesel. The former is reserved for front-wheel drive duties and costs $37,490, with the diesel lugging the extra 60kg that comes with the all-wheel drive system. The six-speed manual diesel is $38,990, the auto adds $2000.
Standard gear includes PRICE: $40,990 WARRANTY: 5 years/unlimited km RESALE: 54 per cent SERVICE INTERVAL: 12 months/15,000km SAFETY: 6 airbags, ABC with TC, ESC, EBD, hill start CRASH RATING: 5 stars ENGINE: 2.2-litre 4-cyl turbo diesel, 145kW/421Nm (436Nm auto)
6-speed auto; AWD 7.3L/100km, 192g/km CO2
4.7m (L), 1.9m (W), 1.7m (H) 1960kg Full-size LED daytime running lights, fog lights, electric folding side mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, Bluetooth and cruisecontrol. It’s better on-road than Holden’s Colorado 7 and cheaper than Ford’s Territory. TECHNOLOGY Under the familiar sheet metal is a stronger body and improved noise suppression. Better insulation in the engine bay and transmission tunnel notably reduce mechanical noise. The electric power steering has a three-mode operation that varies the weight, but not the number of turns needed to move the front wheels.
It works to a degree. The effort may vary but the feedback doesn’t. DESIGN The bumpers cop the ex- pected makeover and now have vertical fog lights, the signature Kia grille and headlamps with LED daytime running lights. The tailgate and tail-lights have been given a minor makeover and there are new alloy wheel designs. The Si misses out on some of the fruit inside but remains a hugely versatile bus — fold both sets of rear seats down to exploit a barn-like 2700 litres of cargo space. The plastics are rock-hard but, given smudge marks and food spatter, it probably makes sense. SAFETY Improved handling, allpaw grip and bigger front brakes (320mm discs) are the first line of defence. A reinforced body and six airbags come into play when things get messy. ANCAP rates it a five-star car, with an overall score of 33.21/37. DRIVING Ride and handling on the Sorento are better than something this big should be. Drive it with vigour and there’s some body roll but owners of the pre-facelift version will appreciate the 18 per cent lift in torsional rigidity. The biggest handicap is the lack of feedback from the steering. I’m not asking for sports car precision, just a degree of feel for what the 17-inch front wheels are doing. It is one of the few flaws in this package, even if it won’t bother most Sorentos that will spend their life ambling around the urban jungle.
In those situations, the diesel engine is responsive, aided and abetted by a sixspeed auto. Adults won’t have any cause for complaints in the second row seats, while the third row is a kids-only affair. A word of warning: The child seat anchorages are only on the second row. VERDICT The Sorento looks good and handles the bumps better than most in this class. It’s also $8000 cheaper than the comparable Ford Territory. The Ford’s not that much better. That leaves the Hyundai Santa Fe, as its biggest rival. Or there’s Kia’s own Grand Carnival with the same engine, same space, less roll.