The new 2015 Kia Sorento range has a lot to live up to. In a time of unprecedented global growth for the brand, the outgoing model set new standards for the Korean brand. Loved by buyers who appreciated its reliability, running costs, flexibility and comfort, the Sorento delivered plenty of value at a very reasonable price point - just as we’ve come to expect from the South Korean manufacturer.
As you will have seen if you’ve read our entry level petrol review, the range as a whole impressed Alborz at launch. You can read that launch review here.
You can also read our full 2015 Kia Sorento pricing and specification guide here.
As you’d expect, the Platinum model is fitted with the full gamut of standard equipment and you can see that full model breakdown in the pricing and specification story. Rest assured, there’s nothing you need that doesn’t feature as standard in the Sorento Platinum. Our recent review on the entry-level Sorento petrol model illustrated value for money at that end of the model range too.
Australians have a peculiar penchant for the range-topping model of any given variant; even more expensive luxury marques show the same sales trend. It's a strange predilection that isn’t necessarily mirrored around the world, but it means there will be scrutiny in the specific direction of this top-specification Platinum model against the models lower down the tree, and the Platinum model it replaces. In other words, it needs to deliver.
Finished in snow white pearl, pricing starts from $55,990 plus the usual raft of on road costs, and like the Si petrol model we tested, this high specification model features only one option: premium paint for $595. That brings pricing to a starting point of $56,585 before the extra costs.
The 2.2-litre diesel engine features an electronic variable geometry turbocharger and generates 147kW at 3800rpm 441Nm, between 1750rpm and 2750rpm. The six-speed automatic gearbox seems perfectly matched to the diesel engine, such is the ratio spread across the power band. With peak torque available so low in the rev range, and holding on until 2750rpm, you’ll find the Sorento is flexible around town, getting up to city speeds without ever feeling like you’re working it too hard. The transmission itself is getting on now, and most manufacturers in the SUV segments are going with more than six ratios, but the Kia's six-speed does the job admirably.
The ADR fuel claim on the combined cycle is 7.8 litres/100km. That in itself is impressive when you consider you’re talking about a full-sized, seven-seat SUV, but even more impressive is the indicated real world figure. I saw an indicated 8.3L/100km after my five days behind the wheel. With the majority of that driving around town, that real-world return is nothing to sneeze at.
Stepping out of the petrol Sorento model straight into the turbodiesel is an interesting exercise. The petrol engine, which isn’t a puny under performer, suddenly feels a fair bit less effortless after you’ve driven the diesel even a short distance. There’s a low-stress sense to the way the diesel attacks any given task that makes it very hard to argue against. Likewise the AWD system when compared to the FWD system of the base model: while there’s nothing inherently wrong with the FWD model, the AWD version just adds an extra sense of surety that makes the Sorento Platinum that much more enjoyable to drive.
Step into the driver’s seat and a few things become immediately apparent. There’s quality leather trim, less harsh plastic than the old model and an insulated feeling when you thud the door shut. The leather front seats might be cold initially in winter, but they are heated, which is a welcome addition, and you’ll wonder what you ever did without a heated steering wheel in winter as soon as you’ve accessed the Sorento’s just once.
Fellow road tester Matt Campbell suggested after a weekend behind the wheel that the new Sorento’s infotainment system isn’t quite as intuitive as he’d like, and he’s right. It’s still miles ahead of many, but we’ve come to expect the South Korean manufacturers will release systems that are completely idiot-proof. The Sorento’s system isn’t quite that, despite being easy enough to work out.
Matt also used the full seven seats (as well as the luggage space) over his weekend with the big SUV and reported back that comfort levels were high and the Sorento didn’t register as being fully-laden from the driver’s seat. Some SUVs can start to feel sluggish when you load them right up, but the Sorento didn’t feel that way at all thanks to the torquey diesel engine.
The Sorento is a clever SUV in that it feels much roomier inside than it both looks and feels outside. Especially when you're the driver, the Sorento never feels ungainly or too large for the city, which means it will make for the perfect family hauler. It's big, but it doesn't actually ever feel clumsy when you're crawling around town. The subtle changes to interior design and packaging in the cabin, have stepped the Sorento forward from where the outgoing model already was. In driving terms, I enjoyed piloting the Sorento around the CBD, even down tighter laneways. It’s quite nimble and the steering system, which is light at low speeds, makes tight manoeuvring and reverse parking a breeze.
The Sorento’s ride around town deserves mention, especially given the comfort it delivers despite riding on 19-inch wheels and tyres. The tune is bang-on for around town and highway running, which should be right where the Sorento plies its trade most often. The 19-inch rims are shod with chunky 235/55/R19 tyres, that have a solid enough sidewall to assist in this ride comfort factor.
The Sorento impresses with its seven-year warranty and the highest ANCAP rating for an SUV. Continue to have your Sorento serviced at an authorised Kia dealer and you also get seven years of free roadside assistance to go with that seven year warranty. New Sorento also comes with seven years (105,000km) of capped price servicing. Total price for the scheduled services over that seven year period is $3487.00.
While I had the two Sorento models back to back, I had lengthy conversations with four current owners - one of which is my father, so he doesn’t really count. Two neighbours have top spec current models, while the other owner has an entry level petrol model. The owners I spoke to are eagerly looking forward to trading up to the new model sometime within the next six months.
The feedback I had from all three was that Kia has delivered handsomely in terms of reliability and ownership, as well as providing a versatile family SUV - we’re talking families of two and three children specifically. All three won’t even bother looking at other brands, such has been their experience with the outgoing model.
While Kia no doubt wants new buyers to consider the Sorento, existing owners are often even harder to impress. Having had a good close look at the new Sorento, they were all impressed with the styling externally, but more specifically the cabin changes and feeling of quality inside. While there’s no doubt that the new Sorento has a lot to live up to, I’m convinced it is primed for the task.
Photography by Glen Sullivan.