DEPARTING SORENTO MAKES ITS CASE AS THE BEST CAR IN KIA’S AUSTRALIAN LINE-UP
Sorento departs to fight 100 giraffes; GV80’s paint causes anxiety; Puma, and its owner, exit stage left
WE WERE about 20 minutes north of Newcastle, me and the Kia Sorento, cruise control holding us at an indicated 110km/h, the diesel four barely audible as it sipped at an indicated 7.2 litres per 100km. I was gathering together my final thoughts on Kia’s seven-seater, helped by a cranking Tidal playlist via Apple CarPlay, when a WhatsAp message pinged through from one of my more cerebral, deep-thinking mates. The Apple assistant helpfully asked if I’d like her to read it, which I did.
In her slightly staccato delivery, she said, “What would you prefer to fight: A giraffe-sized dog, or 100 dogsized giraffes?”
It was a tricky one, especially as the stature of the dog-sized ‘geeraffs’, as she pronounced them, wasn’t specified. Were we talking fox-terriersized? Or would I be dealing with
100 mastif-sized giraffes coming at me as one angry herd? I’d need more thinking time on this one.
One thing I didn’t need to ponder was the fact that the Sorento’s impending departure would leave a real hole. As motoring enthusiasts, I think we’re largely in agreeance that a large wagon beats a large
SUV every time, however, if you occasionally need those extra two third-row seats, there simply isn’t a wagon on the Aussie market that can deliver such a layout. Further, I’ve grudgingly come around to the fact that an SUV’s extra ground clearance is useful for dealing with urban obstacles like steep driveways and
parking space front kerbs.
So with that established, the other irrefutable fact is that the Sorento really is a great family touring wagon. It’s brilliantly quiet, calm and longlegged on a road trip, with a range of around 850km. But more than just that is the fact it has so few flaws to annoy you. The front seats are super comfortable and supportive, and with both heating and cooling, one’s butt is always temperate. Everything from the HVAC, to the nav, to the head-up display, works exactly as it should.
The steering is nicely calibrated to provide a decent sense of connection to the road, but is also never flighty or nervous, no matter what the road condition. As for the ride, I still reckon it’s a fraction too nibbly and reactive at suburban speeds, but in touring mode, the chassis has great absorbency and real composure.
The safety stuff was less equivocal. Rear-cross traffic alert was frequently useful, but I found the lane-keep function too intrusive and inconsistent, and requires a dig into sub menus on each start-up to disable it.
Of the extra equipment that comes with this GT-Line spec, it was the
Bose audio I appreciated most. Like any good system it’s super revealing of the source material, so DAB radio sounds good but not amazing. Stream high-resolution content, though, and it comes alive, with great punch, a convincing soundstage and properly solid, tight bass.
As for the slightly vibey idle I moaned about in my first update, it’s become fractionally less noticeable as the odo has moved past 5000km, yet is still an area that deserves some developmental attention.
But the fact that I don’t have a laundry list of areas that could benefit from attention – apart from the lack of the third-row airbags and engine NVH tweaking – is testament to how well Kia has nailed the sevenseater SUV brief in the Sorento’s fourth generation, at least with the diesel AWD line-up.
Hopefully the arrival of the hybridpetrol model will allow Kia to more completely take the fight to Mazda’s CX-9. Meanwhile, I’m preparing for hypothetical combat with 100 very small giraffes. But they’ll have to bring the battle to me, because I’m without a car right now.