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New Kia Sorento shows evolution of Korean carmaker

Today, some of the buzzwords in the automotive industry are “Chinese cars.”

If anyone asks about the merits of these machines, I will gladly give the example of Korean cars. How many of these did you see on our roads 25 years ago?

But today Kia and Hyundai sit at the highest table, having proven themselves for decades with good, quality products. One such example is the fourth-generation Kia Sorento, which was rolled out locally this year.

The seven-seat SUV has made huge strides since its first appearance in 2002 as what the automaker describes as a “utility all-terrain vehicle.” Today, the Sorento is the proud figurehead of Kia’s extensive SUV range, which also includes the Sportage, Seltos and Sonet.

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As important as it is for Kia to have volume sellers like the Picanto, Rio and smaller SUVs, having a true standard-bearer, packed with the latest technologies, is important to show the evolution of the brand.


“The evolution of the Sorento over the past two decades mirrors that of the Kia brand as a whole. The fourth generation Sorento has been transformed into something even more attractive and represents the perfect balance between premium features and value for money,” said Gary Scott, CEO of Kia South Africa.

We recently had the top quality Kia Sorento in SXL form, priced at R988 995, as a house guest for a week and wanted to experience the modern wonder of the Korean carmaker for ourselves.

The striking rear design of the new Kia Sorento.

In terms of design, the new Kia Sorento is the first car to be based on Kia’s next-generation large SUV N3 platform. With a 35 millimeter longer wheelbase, 2,815 mm, it has a larger body for more interior space and extensive suspension upgrades.

On the outside, it has sharper lines than before, with a noticeably wider version of Kia’s signature tiger nose grille. In fact, the new Sorento is more catty than ever. Beneath the integrated headlamps on either side of the grille are new LED daytime running lights, known as the “tiger’s eye line”, which depict the lines around a tiger’s eyes.

The rear features new vertical taillights that wrap around the sides, said to be inspired by the imposing Kia Telluride, which is not available locally. The 19-inch alloy wheels and twin tailpipes provide extra street value.

Premium cabin

Inside, the new Kia Sorento is all about space, high-quality workmanship and modern digitization.
The plushness of the interior, which is offered with a black leather upholstery in one colour, is the result of the combination of metal, leather and embossed surfaces with a satin effect.

A 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster with two dials provides real-time images of the blind spot camera pointing in the right direction when the indicator is activated.

The new Sorento’s 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system offers navigation, smartphone connectivity and a Bose surround sound system with 12 speakers.

The SXL comes standard with mood lighting under the dash and door trim, wireless smartphone charger, heated steering wheel and heated and ventilated front seats, heads-up display, adaptive cruise control and panoramic sunroof.

The second and third row seats in the new Kia Sorento offer two basic options. Fold the third row flat to accommodate five adults and a whopping 821 liters of luggage space. Or engage the third row of seats at the touch of a button in the boot for seven adults and an acceptable 187-litre boot.

The increased space available means more head, leg and shoulder room, with the second row sliding forward 45mm to make it easier to get in and out of the third row.

The interior of the new Kia Sorento is characterized by a combination of materials.

How much power?

The heartbeat is again delivered by a four-cylinder 2.2-litre diesel engine, this time much more sophisticated. It features a new aluminum block that adds 19.5kg to the total weight reduction of 38.2kg over the previous version.

The mill sends 148 kW of power and 440 Nm of torque to all four wheels via a new eight-speed dual-clutch wet transmission, which Kia says improves fuel economy over a conventional eight-speed automatic.

During our week in the Kia Sorento, our fuel consumption was 9.7L/100km over 568km, which was largely made up of daily city traffic. In our opinion, this is a good number for such a large car, weighing barely two tons.

And it’s no bullshit either. Acceleration has little turbo lag, with the new box impressing with its smoothness. Sport mode in drive mode provides more responsiveness when needed to overtake, but normal and smart – in addition to eco – is also suitable for all-day cruising.

A comprehensive safety package includes six airbags, vehicle stability management, electronic stability control, forward collision assist and blind spot collision avoidance assistance.


As far as Kia has come, a seven-figure price tag might be hard for some to grasp.
But the million-rand threshold has become more the norm than the exception, and what won’t get you very far with other brands will give you the bone in the Kia stable.

If buyers can overcome their brand snobbery, offerings like this should sell like hot cakes.

The Kia Sorento comes with an unlimited mileage/five year warranty and a six year/90 000 km service plan as standard.

For more information on the new Kia Sorento, click here

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