KIA has launched its facelifted Sorento seven-seat SUV range in Australia with more front-wheel-drive variants based on the 3.5-litre petrol V6 engine, ahead of the family wagon’s public debut the Sydney motor show next week.
Previously the six-speed auto- and 2WD-only 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine was available only in base Si trim, but Kia has added mid-spec SLi ($40,490 plus on-road costs) and and SLi Navigation ($41,990) variants.
Kia expects the new petrol SLi will become the Sorento’s volume leader, whereas most customers previously went for the top-spec, all-wheel-drive diesel Platinum.
Kia Motors Australia (KMAu) senior product manager Jeff Shafer said the expected boost in petrol Sorento sales was in due to the fact that more than half of Ford Territory and Toyota Kluger customers opted for 2WD variants.
Mr Shafer said he expected the extra petrol variants to help push monthly Sorento sales toward 400 units, compared with the recent average of 270, while continuing to take advantage of the fast growing SUV segment, which is up 26.3 per cent year to date and has seen Sorento sales rise 19.7 per cent.
Reshuffled pricing of carryover variants means entry to a Sorento range is now $500 more expensive at $37,490 for the petrol Si, while the range now tops out $1200 higher at $50,390 for the diesel Platinum.
On the other hand, Kia has cut the price of the Si diesel by $1000 to $38,990 (manual) and $40,990 (auto), while the price of the mid-spec SLi diesel has been slashed by $3000, to $43,990.
As before, the only variant available with a six-speed manual is the Si diesel, and engine outputs remain at 145kW of power at 3800rpm and 421Nm of torque (between 1800 rpm and 2500 rpm) for manual diesels, with torque boosted to 436Nm on (six-speed) automatic diesels.
The petrol V6 continues to pump out 204kW at 6300 rpm and 335Nm at 5000 rpm, but combined fuel use across the range has been slightly improved, meaning manual diesels now sip 6.6 litres per 100 kilometres, automatic diesels use 7.3L/100km and petrols consume 9.8L/100km.
Representing more than the average mid-life update, the new Sorento may not look radically different but it retains only the outgoing model’s bonnet, roof and door panels.
It is built on lighter yet stiffer and stronger new underpinnings – shared with the new Hyundai Santa Fe launched here last month – resulting in petrol variants being up to 93kg lighter than before.
Despite the all-new platform, the new Sorento's exterior dimensions and wheelbase remain the same, apart from a 10mm lower ride-height that Kia attributes to the overhauled suspension setup.
Kia claims to have improved legroom by 30mm for centre row occupants and 9mm for rear occupants, while cargo space remains at 258 litres with all three rows of seats up, 1047 litres with the third row folded and 2052 litres with both sets of rear seats folded.
As is now usual for Kia products sold in Australia, the Sorento was put through a local ride and handling development process, and the company claims that has delivered a “premium European” driving experience.
KMAu national marketing manager Steve Watt said the tuning exercise required engineering cars to cover thousands of kilometres in the Victorian Alps and Sydney, and that the Sorento was benchmarked against the Ford Territory for cruising comfort and the BMW X5 for dynamics.
Standard safety equipment across the Sorento range includes an alphabet soup of electronic acronyms, six airbags and three-point seatbelts plus adjustable head restraints for all seats.
Front and rear parking sensors plus LED daylight running lights are new to Si, and all Sorentos get a bigger 320mm front discs, up from 298mm.
Dual-zone climate-control, cruise control, Bluetooth for phone and audio streaming and a tilt and reach adjustable leather multi-function steering wheel are on the standard equipment list, along with a six-speaker MP3-compatible sound system with USB and iPod connectivity.
Standard equipment includes electrically adjustable exterior mirrors, two 12-volt power outlets, trip computer, 60/40 split-folding centre bench seat with a flip-down armrest with cupholders and a third-row 50-50 split seat that can folded flush with the boot floor.
All models now have electric power steering, front fog lights with static cornering lights, while Si models ride on 17-inch alloy wheels and have black cloth upholstery.
Upgrading to SLi adds a digital speedometer with integrated multi-function display, a reversing camera, a 4.3-inch touch-screen for the audio system, leather upholstery, eight-way electric driver's seat adjustment, roof rails, ventilation controls for rearmost passengers and UV-resistant windows.
Also included are automatic headlights, a self-dimming interior mirror, alloy pedals and a FlexSteer system – enabled by the move to electric power steering - that offers three settings for steering weight, ranging from Comfort (lightest) through Normal to Sport (heaviest).
As the name suggests, the newly created SLi Navigation brings a seven-inch touch-screen satellite navigation system with SUNA traffic updates plus a premium audio setup with external amplifier and subwoofer.
Top-spec Platinum variants come with the sat-nav and stereo upgrade as standard and add an openable panoramic glass roof, keyless entry and start, rear privacy glass and a washer fluid level sensor.
In return for the price increase, Kia has added adaptive Xenon headlights, a memory function for the driver's seat, a four-way electrically adjustable passenger seat, heated and ventilated front seats, window blinds for centre row occupants, 19-inch alloy wheels and illuminated front door handles.
The new Sorento is covered by Kia's five year, unlimited kilometre warranty and five year capped-price servicing scheme.