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.

New Zealand Company Vehicle - - CONTENTS -

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.

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