At the start of 2011, our Honda Odyssey was approaching 200,000 kilometres, and was starting to develop some high servicing costs and reliability issues, so we decided to look for a suitable replacement. We looked at a Nissan X-Trail, Toyota Prado and Kluger, Mitsubishi Pajero, Ford Territory, Hyundai Santa Fe and a Skoda Superb. One of the major considerations was trying to decide if we still required a 7-seater, as we were a family of 5 (with 3 teenage children) and have extended family that no longer drive. In the end the Superb would have been my choice, but my wife decided that 7 seats was still a requirement.
By chance, I was driving past a Kia showroom and saw a bright, shiny silver SUV displayed in the window and decided to stop and investigate. At the time, Kia was considered the place to go when you wanted cheap and cheerful transport and not much else. I was instantly surprised by the Sorento’s build quality, features and styling and was informed by the salesman that this was the first car Kia had built under the direction of Peter Schreyer (a former Audi Designer) and it showed in spades. Much has been written about the miracles Peter Schreyer has performed at Kia - and now Hyundai - so I won’t elaborate.
Back in 2011, $50,000 was a lot to pay for a Kia. Workmates thought I was crazy to even consider a Kia and it was hard to convince my wife to even just look at the Sorento. Now in 2019, we still love our Sorento, with 135,000km on the clock and the drivetrain and the interior still holding up well. Fuel economy is something remarkable for a nearly 2-tonne vehicle, at low 7's (litres per 100km) extra urban, and 9’s if you’re a lead foot in the city. These are real figures, and not the rubbery Gov figures.
Turbo diesel torque and economy was a first experience for us in 2011 and we would consider diesel or hybrid in the future. The effortless nature in overtaking manoeuvres and climbing steep-grade hills while touring interstate make life on the road that much more enjoyable. The suspension tune is firm, meaning it’s well planted around the bends on a sealed road surface, but is a little choppy on gravel corrugated surfaces. The leather seats, climate control and standard cruise are great comfort features on the road. The Bluetooth, sound quality, connectivity and streaming ability still work well and are enough in infotainment for us at this stage. The small turning circle is great for a car of this size and makes short work of parking and street U-turns. The rear view camera and parking sensors are also welcome aids. At first, servicing costs seemed a little high ($350 minor and $550 major), but servicing a diesel does cost more and is still cheaper than most European petrol rivals.
During the warranty period, we have had a few issues. The battery had run flat even after everything was turned off, which was difficult to diagnose and took a 3-week period to get parts and rectify. Kia supplied us with a loan car for the duration of the repair (with some push from the lease company). There were also issues with a blinking headlight, second row folding latches difficult to operate (replaced), and a folding key broke, due to poor design (both sets replaced). These faults were all rectified at no cost to us, so in general Kia has been good to deal with. In 2019 technology in cars has come a long way, especially passive safety systems and infotainment. Now that Kia has a 7-year warranty it makes for a compelling case to choose another Kia vehicle in the future. Maybe a Cerato GT or Sportage SLI.