Review: Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDi SXL
Johannesburg: So significantly has the Kia Sorento changed through its four generations that it could almost be accused of identity fraud, in a good way of course.
The first generation, from the early noughties, was basic but rugged, while gen-two went the more refined unibody route while offering great value. The third iteration, launched in 2014, introduced a more sophisticated design and impressive on-road refinement.
And now we have the fourth-generation Kia Sorento, which takes another decisive step upmarket. It is certainly a lot more interesting to look at now, and those crisp lines imply that the South Korean brand is hoping to lure buyers away from sportier and more premium SUV options.
It has also moved upmarket in terms of positioning though, with pricing ranging from R809 995 to R994 995.
Interior and practicality
While the base EX models ship with an 8.0-inch touch-screen infotainment system and conventional instrumentation, the SX and SXL variants bring a more modern flair with a 10.25” infotainment system and 12.3” TFT instrument cluster.
But it’s not a digital overload as Kia has provided separate electronic controls for the climate control system and you’ll also find some conventional buttons next to the touch screen, which serve as shortcuts for key functions.
The cockpit has a more upmarket look and feel to it in the new model, and while it’s not quite at the same level as the more premium vehicles its trying to emulate, it’s a decent effort nonetheless.
One big advantage that the Kia Sorento does offer over many of its price rivals is a large seven-seat cabin that accommodates 187 litres worth of luggage, with all chairs in place. Fold the third row, however, and you have up to 818 litres to play with.
Rear legroom in the middle seating row is generous and accessing the third row is rather easy thanks to an electronic folding mechanism. This back row is big enough to fit an average-sized adult or teen, but they will have their knees in the air as the seat is positioned fairly low. These occupants do at least have climate controls and USB ports at their disposal, which you’ll also find plenty of in other parts of the cabin, along with generous storage spaces for drinks and other odds and ends.
The previous-generation Kia Sorento impressed us with its on-road quietness and refinement, and the new model builds on this strength to make it a particularly comfortable companion for long-distance journeys.
Built around a new platform, the vehicle boasts a 4% stronger body shell and a heavily revised, fully independent suspension system.
This provides a ride quality that is comfortable on most surfaces, however it did feel a little firm and bouncy over harsher surfaces and a short rutted dirt road section that we subjected our test car to. It’s certainly not uncomfortable, even on compromised surfaces, but it could have been a bit cushier. Perhaps Kia should consider air suspension to elevate it to a more premium level?
Performance and economy
Under the bonnet we find a new 2.2-litre “Smartstream” turbodiesel engine, featuring an aluminium block that helps make the engine 38.2kg lighter than before.
The engine produces 148kW at 3800rpm and 440Nm between 1750 and 2750rpm, which is enough to provide adequate and relatively effortless performance. Keep in mind that even though the new model has lost some weight, it’s a really large SUV, tipping the scales at 1941kg.
Given that, fuel consumption is reasonably good. While our test car averaged around 10 litres per 100km around town, after resetting the on-board trip computer for a 100km freeway journey, we saw a figure of 7.6 l/100km.
Value and specification
The Kia Sorento is available in three specification flavours, with the base EX+ coming in at R809 995 in front-wheel drive guise at the time of writing (June 2022) and the permanent all-wheel drive variant commanding R849 995. The midrange SX requires a stretch to R914 995 while the SXL takes things up to the million-rand mark at R994 995.
In terms of features, the base EX+ comes with leather seats, with electric adjustment upfront, dual-zone climate control, an 8.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, auto lights and wipers, electric tailgate, LED headlights and 18-inch alloy wheels.
The SX adds a larger 10.25” touchscreen, digital instrument cluster, heated steering wheel, wireless phone charging, 19-inch alloy wheels and a suite of driver assistance gizmos such as Around View Monitor, Lane Keeping Assist, Blindspot Monitor, Forward Collision Avoidance and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
The SXL gives you all of that plus a 12-speaker Bose surround sound system, head-up display, Smart Cruise Control, upgraded driver’s seat with memory function and a panoramic sunroof.
Most buyers in this large SUV segment flock to bakkie-based body-on-frame models such as the Fortuner, Everest and Pajero Sport, which do offer superior off-roading ability.
But if hard-core trails are not on your to-do list then you should seriously consider something like the Kia Sorento, which offers superior luxury and refinement as well as a more practical interior.
Sure, it has become a bit expensive, but as far as large SUVs go, the new Kia is a very desirable option.
FACTS: Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDi AWD SXL
Price: R994 995 (June 2022)
Engine: 2.2-litre, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel
Transmission: 8-speed automated dual-clutch
Drive: All-wheel drive
Power: 148kW @ 3800rpm
Torque: 440Nm @ 1750-2750rpm
0-100km/h: 10.7 seconds (claimed)
Top speed: 190km/h (claimed)
Fuel use, mixed use : 6.8 L/100km (claimed)
Fuel use, freeway: 7.6 L/100km (tested)
Fuel use, urban: 9.8 L/ 100km (tested)
Boot capacity: 187-616-821-2011 litres
Kerb weight: 1941kg
Towing capacity: 2500kg (braked)
Fuel tank capacity: 80 litres
Warranty: 5-year/unlimited km
Maintenance plan: 6-year/90 000km