The Kia Sorento has always been a firm favourite at CarAdvice, its blend of practicality and refinement a standout in a crowded large-SUV segment. We know there’s an all-new Sorento coming later this year, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider snapping up a current model, especially if you can nab yourself a sweet runout deal.
To sweeten that deal, the Korean brand has introduced the 2020 Kia Sorento Black Edition which, as well as some pretty sharp pricing, adds some styling flourishes to keep it fresh and contemporary in the face of an imminent new model.
There are just two Black Edition variants on offer: one diesel, one petrol. Price-wise, they sit between the SLi and the top-of-the-range GT-Line. The all-wheel-drive diesel, with its 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel making 147kW and 441Nm, wants for $52,690 drive-away – $1500 more than the list price of an SLi, but a whopping $7K less than the GT-Line. Although, with the most recent round of drive-away deals, you can get into a Black Edition for $1000 less than the SLi.
On test here, though, we have the front-wheel-drive petrol with its 3.5-litre naturally aspirated V6 that comes in at $49,190 drive-away. Again, it's $1500 more than the corresponding SLi and $7000 more affordable than the GT-Line's regular pricing, yet still $1000 below the V6 SLi's current $50,190 drive-away deal.
So, how much black do you get with a Kia Sorento Black Edition? A lot, as it turns out. The most obvious are the 19-inch gloss-black alloys that look the business, especially against our test car’s Snow White Pearl paint (a $595 option), one of four available colours – Silky Silver, Aurora Black and Clear White are the others.
The black theme continues on the grille, roof rails, and side mirror caps, while front and rear skid plates also score the blackout treatment. Tying all that black together are standard-for-this-edition shadow-chrome lower door trims, ‘ice cube’ LED fog-lights (which look very cool), a panoramic roof and privacy glass. That’s a decent level of embellishments on top of what was already a compelling large-SUV proposition.
Kia has always been known for stacking its offerings with standard equipment, and this one is no different. On top of the Black Edition inclusions already outlined, this Sorento comes standard with leather-trimmed seats, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with native sat-nav, DAB+ radio, Bluetooth connectivity, dual-zone climate control, and a six-speaker audio system that is actually pretty decent.
Safety tech highlights include autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, hill start assist, front and rear parking sensors, and driver-attention alert. It misses out on blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, as well as a 360-degree camera, with those features reserved for the GT-Line.
External features include LED daytime running lights (although not LED headlights), electric folding mirrors and a shark fin aerial.
Slip inside the Sorento Black Edition and you’re immediately impressed by the quality of the cabin. The design is thoughtful, everything is ergonomically laid out, and the use of materials is top-notch, right down to the subtle inclusion of piano-black accents. Some carmakers go overboard with the glossy stuff, but Kia’s designers have come up with just the right amount of highlights – a discreet strip on the dash allied with some smaller areas on the doors. Soft touchpoints abound throughout.
The leather-trimmed seats look and feel good, too: supportive, comfortable with decent bolstering, and ideal for longer highway cruises and road trips.
Everything is thoughtfully laid out. From the dash-integrated touchscreen flanked by physical switches on each side, to the simple but effective climate controls, there is a simplicity to the layout of the cabin. An understated aesthetic that looks and feels more premium than the Black Edition’s pricepoint suggests.
The leather-wrapped steering wheel, for example, feels nice in hand and frames simple analogue driver displays. Nestled in between is a 3.5-inch TFT screen that can scroll through basic information or display a digital speed readout. Simple.
Convenience items include a couple of 12V outlets and a single USB plug up front, a pair of cupholders, bottle holders in each door, and a deep central storage bin with a removable tray for smaller items.
The infotainment system is familiar, and while the user interface is not the latest and greatest in terms of presentation, it all works seamlessly and intuitively. Apple CarPlay, too, is quick to fire up, and once on the go it worked without fault.
The second row is befitting a large SUV, with ample toe, knee and leg room, while head room isn’t significantly impacted by the presence of the Black Edition’s panoramic roof. That glass ceiling lends the entire cabin a light and airy ambience, no matter the row you’re seated in.
Second-row conveniences include air vents, two cupholders, and bottle holders in the doors, while devices can be kept primed with a single 12V outlet or USB point. There are ISOFIX mounts on the outboard seats, as well as three top-tether anchor points.
The second-row seats slide fore and aft (60:40) to free up space for third-row occupants, yet still leave a decent amount of leg room even in their most forward position.
The third row is accessed kerbside, and is easy enough to access with the second-row seats in their most forward position. Once entrenched, third-row travellers will be pleasantly surprised by the amount of space. Sure, it’s not lounge-like, but for a seven-seater SUV it’s decent enough, and better than a lot of others we’ve sampled over the years. There are a pair of cupholders back there, as well as air vents and fan control to keep the summer heat or winter chills at bay.
Both the second and third rows fold flat, 40:20:40 for the second row and 50:50 the third, to reveal a decent 1662L of cargo space. With all three rows in use there’s a meagre 142L, but that’s the price for lugging seven people. The boot floor does lift up to reveal a small cubby to hide your valuables, while a full-size spare wheel resides under the car.
The Sorento’s well resolved and nicely appointed interior is matched by the refinement of its road manners. The 3.5-litre V6 atmo petrol under the bonnet proves a worthy source of motivation. With outputs of 206kW (at 6300rpm) and 336Nm (at 5000rpm) sent to the front wheels exclusively (only the diesel is AWD, remember) via Kia’s eight-speed conventional automatic, the Sorento is an eager and willing family hauler.
Power delivery is smooth and linear, the Sorento moving away from standstill at a brisk pace. It’s a refined unit, leaving you feel you always have enough on tap for those moments when you need it, such as overtaking or merging into traffic.
The eight-speed auto works seamlessly to ensure you’re always in the right gear for the situation. Shifts are barely perceptible, with smooth transitions between ratios on the move. There’s no hesitation, no lag, no lurching, as you’d expect from a torque converter transmission. Torque steer? We didn’t experience it.
Out on the highway, too, the Sorento settles into an easy and effortless lope. It never feels stressed or as if it’s working away too hard. At 110km/h, the V6 settles into a 1600rpm rhythm, quietly humming away. Ask for some more effort for an overtake, and response is instant, the auto shifting down a gear or two and working in tandem with the V6 petrol to offer a decent burst of acceleration that is at once predictable and smooth. The Kia barely raises a sweat.
All of this plays along to an accompaniment orchestrated by Kia’s local engineers who – like their Korean stablemates from Hyundai – have perfected the art of tuning the suspension to suit our local conditions.
With MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link set-up at the rear, the Kia Sorento runs freely and smoothly, even over the worst acne Sydney’s roads can throw at it. The minor stuff is so inconsequential, you wonder if the road you’re on has recently been resurfaced, while larger imperfections are traversed with the calmness of a hostage negotiator in full flight.
Bigger obstacles – speed humps, large potholes and the like – similarly offer not much in the way of a challenge, the Sorento negotiating them and then settling back down with a refinement usually not seen this side of a $100K starting price.
And it does all this with a quietude that belies its sub-$50K price. Road noise is well isolated on all but the coarsest of coarse-chip surfaces, while the sound deadening Kia has employed to ensure a serenity inside the cabin works a charm. The cabin remains a place of quiet introspection, if that’s your thing, or a place where you can hold a conversation on the highway without having to raise your voice. It is, in a word, refined.
Kia claims the Sorento will get by on 10.0L/100km of 91-octane on the combined cycle. A solid week behind the wheel combining urban, suburban and long highway runs returned a reading of 11.8L/100km – a decent return against the brand’s claim.
One area some large-SUV buyers like to focus is towing, and here the news is average at best, with the entire Sorento range rated at 750kg unbraked and 2000kg braked. Downball weight is rated at 100kg. If towing is your priority, then consider this carefully.
All Kia Sorentos wear a five-star ANCAP rating awarded in 2017, the agency giving it a total score of 36.62 out of 37. Of course, this variant does miss out on some key advanced safety tech as already outlined, but there’s enough under the skin of the Black Edition for peace of mind.
Those looking for buyer surety will be comforted by Kia’s seven-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty that continues to lead the way for new-car consumers in Australia. Servicing intervals are every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first, and will set you back a total of $3081 over seven years or 105,000km of motoring.
The Kia Sorento represents the epitome of the urban SUV: large enough to carry seven in comfort, but not so large that it dwarfs the environment it spends the bulk of its time in. The Black Edition, with its sharp looks and refined road manners, adds some edgy style to what is already a compelling package.
And while the all-new Sorento might be just around the corner, there are still plenty of positives in exploring the current model, especially if you can nab yourself a runout bargain.