Sweet Sorento tune

Wheels (Australia) - - Contents - DAVID BON­NICI

LIKE a farmer’s grand­kids who grow up as prissy town­ies, many SUVS have lost touch with their ru­ral roots. The third-gen­er­a­tion Kia Sorento was one such city-slicker, which ex­celled in its ur­ban com­fort zone, but flinched at the prospect of ne­go­ti­at­ing cor­ru­ga­tions or spoon drains. But Sorento has been to boot camp, bring­ing up­grades that usher in new ca­pa­bil­i­ties on un­sealed sur­faces, as ev­i­denced on the rugged roads hug­ging the foothills of the NSW Blue Moun­tains.

Kia’s Aus­tralian engi­neers have taken ad­van­tage of the Sorento’s new sus­pen­sion set-up, which fea­tures nu­mer­ous changes to the rear sub­frame and bush­ings, re­sult­ing in markedly up­graded han­dling and sta­bil­ity, in­clud­ing re­duced body­roll. Ride com­fort is no­tice­ably im­proved on rougher sur­faces. Sorento now ab­sorbs bumps well, which is great news, es­pe­cially for any­one sit­ting in the third row.

Not sur­pris­ingly it rides bet­ter on the en­try-level Si’s 17-inch wheels than on the 19s on the range-top­ping Gt-line, whose 235/55 rub­ber pro­duces more road noise on coarse sur­faces.

The elec­tric power steer­ing has been re­vised by at­tach­ing the mo­tor di­rectly to the rack in­stead of the col­umn. The re­sult is a lit­tle more pre­ci­sion and weight, par­tic­u­larly when switched to the Sport driv­ing mode.

The powertrain has also been sig­nif­i­cantly en­hanced. An eight­speed auto re­places the six-speed unit across the range, cou­pling with the Sorento’s ex­ist­ing 2.2-litre turbo-diesel four and a re­vised 3.5-litre petrol V6. The ex­tra gears bring swifter step-off and quicker, smoother shifts, which are no­ticed most in the mus­cu­lar diesel.

Kia claims the new trans­mis­sion slightly aids fuel econ­omy. my. The diesel’s com­bined con­sump­tion mp­tion is now 7.2L/100km, down from7 from 7.8, 8 though driv­ing from Ka­toomba to Sydney saw the trip com­puter claim a wholly vir­tu­ous 5.4L/100km.

The oil burner car­ries over from the pre­vi­ous model, while the 3.5-litre petrol V6 is a mod­i­fied ver­sion of the 3.3-litre Lambda II donk in the pre­vi­ous ver­sion with a longer stroke, re­sult­ing in an ex­tra 7kw and 18Nm to 206kw/336nm. The diesel is still the bet­ter choice and worth the ex­tra $ 2500 given it adds the ben­e­fit of all-wheel drive.

Stan­dard kit in­cludes auto emer­gency brak­ing, lane-keep as­sist and ac­tive cruise con­trol on all mod­els, plus Kia’s lat­est in­fo­tain­ment pack­age with DAB ra­dio, sat-nav and Ap­ple Car Play/ An­droid Auto. All this, com­bined with im­proved road man­ners and ef­fi­ciency, make Sorento an even more at­trac­tive fam­ily hauler.

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