Kia Sorento EX
The latest generation Kia Sorento is pure vanilla, a well-liked favourite which appeals to a great many drivers; but lacks the little bits of honeycomb goodness you’d find in Hokey Pokey, according to Damien O’carroll.
The Kia Sorento has been with us for more than 15 years now, with the secondgeneration model making the transition from the original’s ladder chassis construction to the unibody model we are familiar with today. That second generation also got adventurously handsome in its design, adopting Kia’s “Tiger nose” grille and some bold lines. All of that is gone with the current generation car however, as the Sorento took a drastic swerve towards the conservative, echoing the appearance of the Carnival people mover. Which means that the current Sorento is conservatively handsome and unlikely to upset anyone with its appearance. That conservatism continues over inside the Sorento, with a restrained and modern interior that is nicely laid out with a minimal number of buttons and made from high quality materials. In an odd twist, however, while everything is nicely soft-touch, it somehow manages to look hard and cheap. I’m not sure quite how Kia has managed to accomplish this, but you do find yourself touching the dash occasionally, just to reassure yourself that it is actually pleasantly yielding, as opposed to hard and cheap, like the way it looks... Under the bonnet, the Sorento’s 147kw/441nm 2.2-litre diesel engine is smooth and satisfyingly powerful, with an excellent mid-range response, thanks to its big torque. It is not, however, the engine that is the most significant aspect of the Sorento. That accolade goes to Sorento’s big upgrade for 2017: an all-new, eight-speed automatic transmission. This unit is beautifully smooth and swift, and works brilliantly well with the engine, although the response of the stop/start system is dismally slow and tarnishes the otherwise excellent performance of the engine and transmission around town. Out on the road, the Sorento boasts a ride that is as smooth and slick as the new transmission. Firm, but never intrusive, the ride is mature and nicely resolved, while the same firmness makes for impressive handling, particularly for a big, tall SUV. The EX model here is also well equipped for its $59,990 asking price, coming standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, tyre pressure monitoring, blind spot detection, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, LED headlights, privacy glass, leather upholstery, an eight-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat, a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple Carplay, as well as keyless entry and start. The Kia Sorento is one of those cars which does everything well; but in saying this, it is not exciting or interesting in any way. Not that it needs to be, mind you. The Sorento is not a car you would get emotionally attached to. It is not a car you would give a name, unless you are the sort of person that would name a car “Transportation appliance”. Then it would suit you perfectly. But while it may be largely uninteresting, it is also deeply good at what it does. That is; transporting up to seven people in safety, comfort and efficiency and offering good value for money. And its hard to ask more from a seven-seat SUV than that.