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Driven: Updated Kia Sorento touches down

Suave Sorento: Kia has updated its seven-seat Sorento SUV to keep it fresh against the likes of the Mazda CX-9 and Toyota Kluger.

Refreshed Kia Sorento arrives with key changes from $42,990 plus ORCs


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19 Oct 2017

KIA’S updated seven-seat Sorento large SUV has touched down in Australian showrooms with key improvements to safety, driveability, styling and comfort and convenience, starting with the petrol Si from $42,990 plus on-roads.

Speaking with GoAuto at the launch of the updated Sorento this week, Kia Motors Australia (KMAu) chief operating officer Damien Meredith said the brand was not chasing a large sales increase with the refreshed model, but rather incremental growth.

“I think we can get five to ten per cent growth out of it,” he said.

“We’re pretty confident we can jump it up one more plateau to 420, 440 (sales per month) and we’d be pretty happy with that.”

The Sorento is currently selling an average of 400 units per month, representing a 15.5 per cent increase year on year, enough to make it the fifth-best selling model in Kia’s line-up behind the Cerato, Sportage, Rio and Carnival.

When the third-generation Sorento landed in mid-2015, Mr Meredith predicted that Kia could sell around 500 per month, but following its release expectations were tempered.

Despite its lift in sales in 2017, it still trails behind other large SUVs such as Toyota’s LandCruiser Prado and Kluger, the Holden Captiva, Mazda CX-9 and Hyundai Santa Fe as well as ute-based competitors including the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and Isuzu MU-X.

Prices have risen slightly for the seven-variant range, which still consists of three front-drive, V6-powered petrol versions, as well as four all-wheel-drive, turbo-diesel four-cylinder options.

All variants have increased in price by $1000, except for the entry-level Si petrol, which has gone up by $2000, and the flagship, diesel-only GT-Line, which has increased by $500.

GT-Line is only available with the diesel powertrain as it has only been developed for all-wheel drive, and Kia only offers the V6 in front-drive guise.

The once range-topping variant, the Platinum, has been deleted, while the old Si Limited grade is now known as the Sport.

For the update to the Sorento, which launched in its current generation in mid-2015, Kia has focused on four different areas in which to refine and improve its flagship SUV, to help it compete against the likes of the hot-selling CX-9 and Kluger.

The first area is safety, with the Korean car-maker introducing autonomous emergency braking, automatic cruise control, driver attention alert and lane keep assist as standard, the latter of which replaces the lane departure warning system.

Flagship GT-Line variants are also bolstered by blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, a 360-degree camera and adaptive headlights as standard.

Driveability has also been given a boost, with Kia engineers identifying a number of areas around ride and handling, as well as drivetrain changes that required improvement.

The biggest change over the outgoing Sorento is the switch to Kia’s in-house eight-speed automatic transmission, which has been rolled out across the range to replace the old six-speed unit.

Petrol variants gain a new, larger engine, with the old 3.3-litre V6 eschewed in favour of a 3.5-litre donk, resulting in a 7kW/18Nm power increase, up to 206kW/336Nm, which has also resulted in a rise in fuel economy of 0.1 litres per 100km, to 10.0L/100km.

If the 3.5-litre V6 sounds familiar, it is because the new mill is the second iteration of the Lambda I V6 first brought to the Sorento range in 2012.

The 2.2-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder mill is carried over from the outgoing model, and continues to produce 147kW/441Nm with a combined fuel economy figure of 7.2L/100km, down 0.6L/100km thanks to the new eight-speed auto.

About 70 per cent of private Sorento sales have been for the diesel, while fleet buyers have favoured the petrol versions.

Of the private diesel sales, the most popular variants have been top-spec versions, which Kia initially thought would show down.

The new Sorento gets an extra drive mode in addition to the usual eco, comfort and sport settings. Called Smart, the new mode is designed to automatically adjust settings to suit different environments.

Revisions have also been made to the Sorento’s rack-mounted power steering for improved feedback, as well as a tweak to the locally tuned suspension including enhanced sub-frame and rear mounting bushes, for greater ride comfort and stability through corners.

Comfort and convenience is another area of focused for the new Sorento, with the latest 8.0-inch (up from 7.0 inches) touchscreen infotainment system across the range, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability.

SLi and GT-Line variants gain a ten-speaker harman/kardon surround sound system and a 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster display, while features such as heated and ventilated seats, heated steering wheel and gloss black trim are reserved for the GT-Line.

More soft-touch plastics have been added to the cabin, while boot space has increased courtesy of a 20mm extension in vehicle length.

Exterior design has also been tweaked slightly over the outgoing model, primarily in the front fascia and rear bumpers.

Headlight design has been revised, with the daytime running light strip now positioned at the bottom of the headlight cluster instead of the top, and three main lights inside the cluster instead of two.

Kia’s signature ‘tiger-nose’ grille has been revised on the Sorento, as have tail-light, front bumper and rear bumper design. A new range of alloy wheels are available, while the colour palette has been updated.

The GT-Line gains LED front foglights as well as a number of exterior flourishes including newly-designed 19-inch alloys, unique side steps, red brake callipers and dual exhaust tips.

2017 Kia Sorento pricing*
Si (a)$42,990
Sport (a)$44,990
SLi (a)$46,990
Si (a)$45,490
Sport (a)$48,490
SLi (a)$50,490
GT-Line (a)$58,990
*Excludes on-road costs

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