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  • Ride & handling; features; value for money; looks; engine & transmission; seven seats
  • Hard plastics inside; no AWD petrol; front-wheel drive performance on dirt

OUR RATING
8 / 10



2013 Kia Sorento Review
2013 Kia Sorento Review
2013 Kia Sorento Review

The updated Kia Sorento is set to launch in Australia with a revised exterior look and noticeable improvements to the interior. The Koreans have improved the package without altering the value-for-money proposition that has made its predecessor a worldwide hit.

Although it may appear as merely a facelift from the outside, the 2013 Kia Sorento is almost a new car underneath. Using the same platform as its cousin, the all-new Hyundai Santa Fe, the Sorento has a stronger and re-engineered bodyshell with minor improvements to the powertrain’s efficiency through lighter components.

Its biggest advantage is a revised locally-engineered suspension tune, which has brought the Kia Sorento’s ride and handling characteristics on par with the best in the business.

So far as engine and transmissions are concerned, the Kia Sorento remains unchanged. The 3.5-litre V6 petrol (204kW of power and 335Nm of torque) and 2.2-litre turbodiesel (145kW of power and 421-435Nm of torque depending on transmission) are currently the only two choices available with potential for a 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol to join next year.

2013 Kia Sorento Review
2013 Kia Sorento Review
2013 Kia Sorento Review
2013 Kia Sorento Review

Kia continues the strategy of offering the petrol variants as front-wheel drive only while diesel models send power to all four wheels. Nonetheless, the company has made the SLi grade available for the petrol model, which was only available as a base Si model in the past.

Designed under the guidance of Peter Schreyer, the company’s head of design and the man responsible for numerous iconic Audi and Volkswagen models, the Kia Sorento has been given a nip and tuck. From the outside the look of the updated front and rear ends sharpen the Sorento’s appeal and Kia has taken the bold move of going for vertically-styled fog lights for both ends.

Unlike the new Santa Fe, Kia has ticked the box for LED daytime running lights (DRLs) for the entire Sorento range, which adds that extra element of visual appeal the company is so well known for. On the road it’s instantly recognisable as a member of the Kia family, which in this day and age, is a treat.

From an engineering perspective the new bodyshell is lighter than its predecessor, allowing for minor fuel economy and CO2 emission improvements across the range, but power and torque remain unchanged. The hundreds of hours of suspension tuning by Kia’s local team and Korean-based suspension engineers, have genuinely given the foreign SUV a local flavour.

2013 Kia Sorento Review
2013 Kia Sorento Review
2013 Kia Sorento Review
2013 Kia Sorento Review

Kia admits that it used the Ford Territory as a benchmark for ride quality and the BMW X5 as its template for handling characteristics. It’s fair to say the Sorento is almost as compliant as the locally made and tuned Ford Territory, but not all the way there. As for the BMW X5 comparison, it’s a great SUV to benchmark handling dynamics and the Koreans have made vast improvements as a result. Nonetheless, the Sorento is let down by its steering feel, which despite a new three-mode flex-steer system that tightens up the feel, is still a long way from its significantly more expensive German rival.

On the whole though, and comparing it against its actual peers, the ride and handling characteristics are on par with the best. An 18 per cent improvement in torsional rigidity has certainly helped and bumps can be heard but not necessarily felt. On dirt and loose surface roads the all-wheel drive Sorento is confident and easily manageable but the front-wheel drive can be a handful at times.

As for the suburban landscape, where the Sorento is likely to spend the majority of its life, the all-wheel drive diesel is noticeably more refined with smooth out of corner acceleration and generally better driving feel. In saying that, the front-wheel drive’s high-power V6 does provide more linear straight-line acceleration without the momentary lag felt in the turbodiesel.

2013 Kia Sorento Review
2013 Kia Sorento Review
2013 Kia Sorento Review
2013 Kia Sorento Review

The choice between petrol and diesel is not as straightforward as one may think. Although the diesel’s fuel economy is lower (6.6L/100km for manual and 7.3L/100km for automatic) than the petrol’s (9.8L/100km), it does cost around $3500 more (though you also get the benefit of AWD in the process) and part costs, and subsequently long-term ownership costs, are arguably higher as well.

In the real world, the diesel’s fuel savings will not equate to more than a few hundred dollars a year and if you don’t necessarily need the all-wheel drive system, the petrol starts to make a lot of sense. Unless of course, you want a manual Sorento or the range topping Platinum variant, both of which are available with a diesel engine only.

The six-speed automatic works in unison with either engine and provides smooth and seamless shifts. It does tend to prefer extracting power and torque from the V6 but so far as diesel automatics go in this price range, it’s only really comparable to the diesel Santa Fe for refinement.

Inside, things have remained relatively the same. The hard plastics on the dash and doors are carried over from the previous model, which is disappointing, as we would’ve preferred the use of soft touch plastics for general contact points, at least on the doors. The front and second row seats are comfortable for short or long trips and easily accommodate the average adult. As for the strictly kids-only third row, it’s easier to get into than most other 7-seater SUVs on the market. Kia has added a new digital dash display (SLi and Platinum) as well as cooled and heated front seats (Platinum) and a straight gate auto in place of the old step pattern.

2013 Kia Sorento Review
2013 Kia Sorento Review
2013 Kia Sorento Review
2013 Kia Sorento Review

Currently the diesel Kia Sorento Platinum, the most expensive model in the range, is also the most popular choice with buyers. This is likely to remain unchanged given the extensive equipment level offered in the $50,390 range-topper.

Speaking of standard equipment, even the entry-point into the range, the $37,490 automatic V6 petrol Si, comes with front and rear parking sensors, Bluetooth telephone and audio streaming capability coupled to a six-speaker audio system, dual zone climate control, second-row air vents, LED DRLs, 17-inch alloy wheels, the full compliment of active and passive safety features (dual front airbags plus side and curtain airbags for first and second row) and cruise control.

An additional $3000 will get you into an SLi grade which packs all the goodies of the Si plus 18-inch wheels, LED rear lights, rear spoiler, leather seats, a 4.3-inch colour screen with built in reversing camera, upgraded interior, powered driver’s seat, a 7-inch fully-digital cluster screen (speedometer and trip computer), the flex-steer system and more.

There’s the option of a satellite navigation system with a 7-inch LCD touchscreen and premium 10-speaker audio which will add a reasonable $1500 to the price. Kia will also offer free map updates for the first three years as part of the deal.

For those that must have it all, the platinum model demands $6400 on top of the SLi but gains 19-inch alloy wheels, sat-nav and stereo system plus a giant panoramic sunroof, active HID headlights, smart-key entry and start system, power passenger seat, heated and ventilated front seats and privacy glass.

2013 Kia Sorento Review
2013 Kia Sorento Review
2013 Kia Sorento Review

The other main benefit of buying a Kia Sorento is the company’s five-year unlimited kilometre warranty and capped-price servicing. The average 15,000km or 12-month service is around $350 but gets to around $600 at the 60,000km service before going back to normal.

Overall, the Kia Sorento SUV further enhances an already competent and well-equipped package. Regardless of your attitude towards Korean cars, if you’re in the market for a large SUV, you’d be mad not to test drive the Kia Sorento.

3.5L Petrol

Si

A/T

2WD

7

2013 Kia Sorento Review
2013 Kia Sorento Review

$37,490

SLi

A/T

2WD

7

$40,490

SLi Navigation

2013 Kia Sorento Review
2013 Kia Sorento Review

A/T

2WD

7

$41,990

2.2L Diesel

Si

M/T

2013 Kia Sorento Review
2013 Kia Sorento Review

4WD

7

$38,990

A/T

4WD

7

$40,990

2013 Kia Sorento Review
2013 Kia Sorento Review

SLi

A/T

4WD

7

$43,990

SLi Navigation

A/T

2013 Kia Sorento Review

4WD

7

$45,490

Platinum

A/T

4WD

7

$50,390


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KIA SORENTO BREAKDOWN

2013 Kia Sorento Review
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  • guesst

    another 4 star for KIA from CA…….

  • Aussie

    “so far as diesel automatics go in this price range, it’s only really comparable to the diesel Santa Fe for refinement.”
    Which means what exactly?

    • Je

      I think it means that Santa Fe Diesel Auto is the only real competitor in this price range.

    • http://www.caradvice.com.au/ Alborz Fallah

      Means they are the best two in the class

      • Aussie

        Thanks Alborz, but can you please tell what other models are considered to be in this class?

        • http://www.caradvice.com.au/ Alborz Fallah

          Diesel ones, Challenger, Pajero, Pathfinder, Territory, Captiva 7 etc. The territory is a great diesel as well, but the Koreans have better engine to transmission integration. 

  • F1orce

    What can I say? Hyundai/Kia once again have upped the ante.

    Though my only question is that do the new rear tail lamps have the same dramatic illumination as the previous LEDs on the Sorento?

    • Barry on the tray top .

      Styling is a backward step , those vertical bumper lights give it a craptiva look , tall and narrow .

  • ABCDEFG

    Being a KIA, they have to do better. The Kluger comes with reverse camera as standard, one size larger than the KIA, better resale and $170 per service. All for less than $37k drive away no more to pay.

    • F1orce

      One size large?

      • ABCDEFG

        Spot a Sorento next to a Kluger or vice versa. Better still get in both.

    • Sumpguard

      Yeah but…………. Just in!

      ALMOST 300,000 Toyotas in Australia – and 7.4 million worldwide – are heading back to the dealership after Toyota issued its biggest ever recall.

      • Simon

        OMG my power window button doesn’t work.  I bet proportionally more Kias have had more serious issues….

        • Smith

          Actually Simon, Kia is one of the least recalled vehicles globally. All manufacturers have issue that need correction, but do your research and don’t rely on your bias.

      • matt

        for a plastic switch? at 10c a piece i dont think they care

        • Sumpguard

            You totally ignored the cost of actually having to fit it. It may be 10c for the switch but they are likely to take at least 10 minutes each to process the paperwork and fit the part. 7,400,000 divided by 6 is 1,2000,000+ hours.

             Still think they don’t care?

          • This Justin

            Toyota has more recalls than any other brand!

  • Vins

    The tail lights make the whole car look cheap. The current one looks much better.

    • Sumpguard

      I think the current one looks better too. Though I guess to keep it fresh in the USA until the all new one arrives they have made some changes. I’m not a fan of those fog lights. The ones on my Sportage look much better. 

    • Kampfer

      Yeah… we all know Peter Schreyer used to design for Audi… but come on!!!

      • bd

         Acura’s taillights for the RDX and MDX are even more like Audi’s.

        Having said that, the refresh to the sheetmetal is a mix of minor improvements and some negatives (such as the vertical fog lamps).

        Overall, the SX trim of the NA Sorento has the best design (having the best front fascia, but we’ll see what the refresh does to that).

  • Hey

    The design is getting bland and boring now!!!

  • Djs

    IS THE TOW BALL CAPACITY 150KGS, AS PER THE OLD MODEL ,OR 100 KGS AS THE NEW SANTA FE

    • GrahamP

      Be careful! Although the towing capacity is the same as the outgoing model, a quick check of the Trailer Towing Capacity Specs on Kia Australia’s Web Site indicates a ball weight for the upgraded model of just 120kg. This is 30kg less than the outgoing model! Very disappointed as with the ride and handling improvements I would have put the new Sorento on top of my shopping list to tow a 1800 kg ATM van thas has 140kg ball weight. Looks like we go to the outgoing model Sorento or a Pathfinder/Pajero. Even the Mazda CX5 will tow 1800kg with 150 on the ball, but that is right on the limit.

  • This Justin

    What a great looking car. Best level of kit for the money. I cant see any reason why Sorento wont be Car Of The YEAR! Well done Kia.

  • peddy.d

    Would be nice if the Santa Fe came with a V6 like the sorento

    • F1orce

      LWB Santa-Fe will come with Hyundai’s new 3.3L V6

      The 3.3L GDI V6 is also found in the Hyundai Azera in USA which makes 293HP or 220kW

  • Don Quay

    So, the ride and steering are still below par, it seems. Maybe one day they’ll make one that is nice to drive.

    • http://www.caradvice.com.au/ Alborz Fallah

      It’s definitely not below par, it’s almost Territory-like in the ride feel, which means it’s on par with the best for Aussie roads. Plus, the average buyer wouldn’t notice the bit of play in the steering. 

      • Don Quay

        So what you are saying is that they are getting better with each generation, but still not quite there with the class leaders. That’s good to know and the Kia’s are definitely better than their cousins in the styling department. However, I still have memories of the appalling way that Kia treated the Carnival owners with the dud engines. they haven’t been tested again since then but it still makes me very reluctant to trust them, despite all the good reviews. Everyone falls over at some time, just look at the current window switch with Toyota. Something will happen with Hyundai and Kia in the future and I will watch with interest to see how they handle it.

        • http://www.caradvice.com.au/ Alborz Fallah

          For the record, if my memory serves me right, those problems with Carnival engines were when Kia Australia wasn’t being controlled by the factory, but by a local distributor (Ateco). It has been over a decade since those issues and so far as Kia owners tell us, the cars are Japanese-like in their build quality.

          • Sumpguard

             

            “so far as Kia owners tell us, the cars are Japanese-like in their build quality.”    
                Absolutely! Infact I get and extra 2 years warranty to boot!     My Sportage has no such handling issues Alborz. I’d like a tad more weight in the steering but a tad to light is always better than a tad too heavy. My boss owns an XR6 turbo and is a ford man through and through but even he was impressed with my sportage.

                I recently drove from Cairns to Karumba on some pretty ordinary roads which was 700 k’s one way from the coast of nth Qld to the bottom of the Gulf of Carpentaria and as the Sportage has a stiffer ride than some SUV’s I was a bit concerned to be honest before going. The car was frigging brillliant. Excellent economy and that diesel was simply made for that kind of driving. The rough shoulders torn up by roadtrains where no concern at all. Once past Georgetown (around halfway) I dialed in 125km/h on the cruise and it didn’t miss a beat. 

                I don’t like the foglight design on the new Sorento and am not too sure about the rear tail lights either but having spoken to a couple of owners of the current car they are stoked with their purchase. 

                My neighbor has the new Territory in petrol and is already thinking about getting rid of it because it goes nowhere near ford’s fuel claims and has some build quality issues depite ford having several years to get it right.

               Ateco, ahhh yes. But let the clingers cling. That’s all they have now! Besides the truth ruins a good story for the haters! 

          • Karl Sass

            Good to know you’re enjoying your car Sumpy. Tell your neighbour to get a liquid injection lpg conversion : )

          • Don Quay

            Clinger? Gee, that’s pretty lame, even for you. Besides, wasn’t he that bloke in drag from MASH?

          • Don Quay

            Yes, I know the history of the Carnivals with the old Rover engines, but it doesn’t really matter who sold the cars. They were Kia’s responsibility and they built them, I’m pretty sure the hundreds of owners left with dud engines don’t care about whether it was Kia or Ateco. If Kia didn’t support their customers or distributor it reflects badly on their brand. But as you say, lately they have had no major problems, but the image and mistrust still lingers with many. When they have their next major issue, and they will, I will look with interest to see how they handle it.

          • Sumpguard

            Given that they are now owned by Hyundai and they have one of the industry’s best service reputations I won’t be losing sleep on it. By comparison the service of your beloved ford is absolutely woeful. 

        • ABCDEFG

          The previous Carnival model that had major engine problems were the Carnivals with the Rover 2.5L V6 engines, “controlled by Rover”. Some of the later ones had the 2.7L V6 engines were Hyundai engines “controlled by Korea” had no problems. The current shape Carnival with 3.3L and 3.5L V6 engines are Hyundai engines and have no major known issues..

          • Don Quay

            I don’t know what you mean by “controlled”. The Rover V6 was built under licence by Kia to Rover’s specs, just not built very well. If Kia built and supplied the engines, it was their responsibility. Yes the later Hyundai engines haven’t had the same issue, but that’s not the point , is it?

          • http://www.caradvice.com.au/ Alborz Fallah

            Actually the Land Rovers at the time which made use of the same engine also showed similar issues but yes, that whole affair was poorly handled. As I said, it has been over a decade and going by all the data in the last 10 years, Korean quality is now on par with the Japanese, plus you get a five-year warranty, so I am not sure what the concern is.

          • Sumpguard

              There is no concern. Don just can’t let go. It eats him up that KIA are currently one of the world’s fasted growing companies. 

  • Labryz

    Have to say I actually prefer the look of the Santa-Fe. This is the first time since Peter Schreyer took over the designing that I actually prefer the look of the sister Hyundai version. 
    I think Hyundai are catching up with their designs which should seem them continue to grow in popularity. 
    Thought still not 100% sold on the interior of the Santa-Fe. I think Kia still has the better one there.

  • Chevrons

    So Kia used the Territory for road quality but if “it’s easier to get into than most other 7-seater SUVs on the market” they definitely did not use the Territory as a benchmark. When I researched 7 seaters, the third row access in the Territory was terrible.

  • James Cortez

    If you want a real, capable 4WD get a cherokee boys. Affordable, reliable, good looking. This Korean  will leave you stranded & you will regret buying a sissy 4WD which has no low ranger gear.

    • Sumpguard

      You almost had me until you said reliable! I was a fan of the cherokee and nearly signed up to the diesel. Latest reports out of a caravaning forum aren’t so great and they are from real people, not a salesman . Jeep as a company has a very checkered history for reliability and it is still under a cloud. By contrast KIA’s reliabilty record the past 7 or 8 years is exemplary!

         You should make sure you are informed before posting bias tripe. This is an SUV by the way. Not a 4×4. The Jeep is a competitor for the landcruiser not the Sorento.  The fact you mentioned Korean highlights the underlying resentment in your post.  

    • Paul Sj Kwon

      Reliable Jeep. Really?

      • Robertjusher

        Jeep is not offering 5 years warranty…..

  • Steven

    I’d be interested if I could buy a 2.2d, 4WD, A/T Si with ventilated seats. Cooled seats seems like such a great idea yet you’re forced to pay an extra $10k for the privilege. Plus I’d have to pay more for tyres (17″ vs 19″ wheels).

  • Ilovecars

    Have you seen the crash test results on a new Jeep Grand Cherokee, woefull.  The dummies head hit the steering wheel as the belt mounting broke.  It has also failed the elk test, the worst result since the little Mercedes rolled over.  They are telling people not to buy the Jeep as its dangerous.  All this info is available to view online.  We were going to get a jeep till I did some research.  I would never buy one.  It went up on 2 wheels at 60km/hr when serving.  I have a 5 year old Santa Fe and have only had 2 faults in 150,000km, door locks and a clock spring in the airbag.  That is all everything still works as new.  The shock absorbers are still going well, I can’t believe how good this car has been.

  • Brett

    We’ve had our 2010 Sorento for almost 3 years and it has been great. Not one issue with it after 35,000kms. We did a Melbourne to Sydney and back road trip just after xmas and it drove like a dream.  These cars are still a bit of a hidden secret as some people have badge snobbery issues and don’t give them a chance. Reviews like Alborz’s are slowly changing that. I don’t know how long we’ll have this Sorento for but won’t hesitate to upgrade to the newer model when we finally decide to get another car.

  • Grahamp

    Well done Kia! You listen to your customers. Kia Australia have brought out a heavy duty tow pack (available from February 2013) that includes up rated springs that returns the tow ball load to 150 kg. The pack costs about $1000. Have an appointment to test drive an SLI today.

  • Kpc5

    yes but toyota has to be serviced every 10000 do your suns

  • Joe P

    I have just had 3 months with my Kia Sorento V6 Sli with gps…It’s an absolute fantastic car!
    Powerfull,smooth and pretty economical. Everything works well…gps great…fantastic quality stereo and bluetooth. So glad I did’nt get the Ford Territory…bland by comparisson and more expensive.
    The Mazda CX9 was the other option…but the new model got hit with the UGLY stick! That droopy new face….No Way! also more expensive and less toys!
    If Kia keep making cars like this, I ‘ll definately keep buying them!

  • Grimm

    I have now had my Sorento SLi for 2 weeks and love it. Buying this car was by far a great experience. The salesman was great, the service exceptional and I as a customer felt well treated. I have to agree with Joe P if Kia keeps producing quality like this I to will definitely keep buying from them. Its a well balanced car.

  • rv66

    I received my Sorento SLi petrol in October 2013, and for the first 3000km was loving it.
    However,
    on trying to go home from work one day, I a was getting a loud and
    large ‘thunk’ when trying to put the car into gear. The NRMA and a tow
    truck had to come to the rescue. Kia would not offer a courtesy car
    straight away.
    First they thought it was the ‘valve bodies’ that feed
    fluid into the transmission. After a week (during which time the dealer
    and Kia couldn’t work out how to get a warranty clearance done – problems with the computer lodgement of the job), they
    changed them only to find no resolution. They then decided it was the
    engine control unit. At this stage I got a courtesy car.
    The computer changeover worked, although then they had to re-program the keys (and another trip to the dealer). All up the car was off the road for 10 days.
    When
    searching the net about this problem, a surprising number of people
    have had the same issue with the Sorento and Sportage (and Hyundai’s
    too). There was even a big recall in the states about 2 years ago. Some
    cars develop this thunk while driving and decelerate to a stop on the
    road.
    I saw no reference to this issue while I was (extensively)
    researching the Kia, as I have previously been a ‘badge snob’, and only
    ordered the Sorento on the basis that Kia’s are now ‘reliable’.
    I would be interested in hearing from anyone else about similar issues.

  • Gary

    I am wondering if the kluger is the way to go. We want the space and awd capabilities. .. Although we won’t use this all the time, but would like when needed. The Kia sorreto is better fuel economy and I’m not sure if I am making the right decision- though the diesel has got less pull than kluger and less space

Kia Sorento Specs

PLATINUM : 2.2L DIESEL TURBO F/INJ - 6 SP AUTOMATIC - 4D WAGON
Car Details
Make
KIA
Model
SORENTO
Variant
PLATINUM
Series
XM MY12
Year
2012
Body Type
4D WAGON
Seats
7
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
DIESEL TURBO F/INJ
Engine Size
2.2L
Cylinders
DIESEL TURBO 4
Max. Torque
436Nm @  1800rpm
Max. Power
145kW @  3800rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
74W/kg
Bore & Stroke
85.4x96mm
Compression Ratio
16.0
Valve Gear
DUAL OVERHEAD CAM
Drivetrain Specifications
Transmission
6 SP AUTOMATIC
Drive Type
ALL WHEEL DRIVE
Final Drive Ratio
3.913
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
DIESEL
Fuel Tank Capacity
70
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
7.4L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
1959
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Height
1710mm
Length
4685mm
Width
1885mm
Ground Clearance
184mm
Towing Capacity
Brake:2000  Unbrake:750
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
RACK & PINION - POWER ASSISTED
Turning Circle
10.9
Front Rim Size
7x18
Rear Rim Size
7x18
Front Tyres
235/60 R18
Rear Tyres
235/60 R18
Wheel Base
2700
Front Track
1618
Rear Track
1621
Front Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Rear Brakes
DISC
Standard Features
Comfort
Auto Climate Control with Dual Temp Zones, Power front seat Driver, Power Sunroof
Control & Handling
18 Inch Alloy Wheels, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Electronic Stability Program, Hill Holder
Driver
Adjustable Steering Wheel - Tilt & Telescopic, Cruise Control, Leather Steering Wheel, Multi Function Steering Wheel, Parking Distance Control, Power Steering
Entertainment
CD with 6 CD Stacker
Exterior
Fog Lights - Front
Interior
Leather Upholstery
Safety
Dual Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking, Head Airbags
Security
Central Locking Remote Control, Engine Immobiliser
Other
Service Interval
12 months /  15,000 kms
Warranty
60 months /  999,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
29-I-13
Country of Origin
KOREA