As our family grew, we were looking for a practical seven-seater towards the end of last year (2014). Living in a regional area, with occasional dirt trails, we were looking for a SUV, but not a true offroader with truck-like dynamics.
We test drove the Ford Territory, Nissan Pathfinder, Mazda CX9, Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, and Toyota Kluger. None of them seemed quite right at the start - Territory was too dated, Pathfinder, CX9 and Kluger were gas guzzlers, Santa Fe seemed poorly put together, and we were just not sure about Sorento's reliability.
Decided to short-list the Kluger and Sorento, and in the end, bought the Sorento Platinum.
Performance and Economy
145KW and 436Nm is enough power and torque for a vehicle nearing two tonnes. Like most diesels, it is noisy about town as it runs from standstill and accelerates upto 60 km/h. But the highways are really were it shines - were it never seems like it would be short of puff.
Fuel economy is excellent. About town it averages about 10 l/km, and on the highway it sits at about low 6s, even when fully loaded. We easily got about 1100 from one tank of fuel on the highway. And all of this is just as the engine is still new and running in.
436 Nm is enough to tow 2 tonnes. But the towball weight seems to be quite low at 100 kgs. One thing we did notice is that the rear suspension sags quite a bit, even when not towing, but when the boot is loaded/all seven seats are occupied. I don't intend to tow anything at the moment, but if anyone is considering the sorento and towing is one of the requirements, then they might need to invest in aftermarket tow- kit/springs.
Cabin space and Comfort
I would like to be very clear here - At less than 4700 mm, Sorento is not a big seven seater. In fact, it is probably the smallest seven seater you should consider if you want to use all seven seats. Kluger is much more spacious compared to this, but Sorento is more nimble and easier to handle. Sorento is perhaps best suited for people with a moderate build, with moderate head and leg room in all 3 rows.
Sorento is very comfortable, but this has more to do with the fact that this is top grade model. The features are listed later on in this review.
Technology and Connectivity
We have had no issues with the bluetooth at all. The pairing was simple and the calls are very clear. The SatNav is easy to operate - nothing too fancy - just things which work as they should.
Price and Features
A big plus for the Sorento is that the new model was due in 2015, so we knew we could get a good deal on the older model. We got the top-grade Platinum for less than what we would have paid for the mid-grade GXL Kluger. Kia were doing a deal on runouts - so we got the nudge bar, weather shields, mats, side-steps, cargo mats, tow bar - all at no additional cost. What ultimately allayed our fears about reliability was that Kia had just announced an increase from 5 year to 7 year warranty.
Being top grade, it has all the features one would ever want, and more. Panoramic sun-roof, heated and cooled front seats, Folding mirrors, auto dim rear view mirror, built in sun shades, Xenon lamps, DRLs, Satellite Navigation, Rear view camera, Keyless entry, and the list goes on.
Ride and Handling
It is a high riding seven seat SUV. Enough said.
No, seriously, the shorter wheel-base is a little bumpy, and the 19inch wheels (235/55 R19) with lower profiles don't help. (I do not understand why the car companies insist on putting bigger wheels on higher grades).
A big positive is the adjustable steering weight- which some people say is a bit gimmicky, but I have felt it to be quite useful. You can select between three modes - sport, normal and comfort. Sport is good for highways and is quite heavy. Normal is good for everyday driving, and comfort is very light - I don't use it that much, but I can imagine people getting used to it.
We are very satisfied with the purchase. A few years ago, I wouldn't have given Kia a second look, but they have come a long way. My advice to anyone looking for a seven seater SUV is to decide what you want - if you like the smooth power of a petrol V6 and don't mind filling up often, Kluger and Pathfinder are perhaps ideal. On the other hand, if you like the grunt and economy of a diesel, consider Sorento or Santa Fe, especially with the new model of Sorento out.